Reincarnation— noun. The rebirth of a soul in a new body.
When Naim was two and a half, he started talking about people that the family did not know. A man named Aehan, who walked with a cane. And woman named Amir, who sang loudly in the kitchen while making labaneh.
As was the tradition, his parents started searching for who these people might be.
Naim was six years old when he was brought to the home of Aehan and Amir, in their village of Majdal Shams. Naim had never been to this village. Never seen the small streets that wove up the side of the crooked hill. And yet he pulled at his mother’s hand impatiently as they got nearer to the home with the cracked cement stairs and the blue painted door.
“This is the house!”
Since just after its founding in the 11th century, the Druze tradition has been officially closed off to outsiders and proselytism has been prohibited. Since that ban, the Druze population has continued to exist solely based on the continuation of its previous generations. (pewresearch.org)
There are 143,000 Druze living in Israel and the West Bank.
You cannot convert to Druze.
The Druze believe in reincarnation, or the transmigration of the soul.
Naim, Aehan, Amaal, Amir and Asad are Druze.
“What gift did you bring your grandmother after your service in the army?”
Naim scratched his forehead and slumped back in his chair, not attempting to hide his confusion.
“I didn’t bring my grandma anything.” Naim replied. “I brought my grandpa a cane.”
This was all a part of the test.
Aehan walked to the closet and pulled out 4 canes. Naim told them it was the one with a rubber bottom. The one that he had carved the initial F into.
It was true, at least, that there was a cane with a small carved F. And that Asad had given that cane to his grandfather after his service in the armed services.
They pulled out a family album and asked Naim to pick out three photos. He picked one of Asad in the army, one of Asad as a little boy, and one of Asad’s sister, Amaal.
Aehan’s son Asad was shot by a bullet that belonged to a gun that belonged to a settler outside of Golan Heights.
The irony, to have lived through his military service, and have died on a walk.
Aehan was not a lean man, but he took up very little space. He propped his shoulder against the wall of the small kitchen, and watched the women of the Parent’s Circle show a group of visitors how to make stuffed grape leaves.
Today, one guest had taken particular interest in him. He very seldom shared his story.
“I am often asked if my belief in reincarnation makes the death of my son easier” he confided in the inquisitive girl.
”The answer is no. In many ways it makes it harder to know this boy, who is alive, but who is no longer my son.”