The Sound of Silence

The crying woke me. It began as one woman sobbing, then was joined by another, then another, until a chorus of wails pierced through the quiet morning. The cries grew louder, then settled into a mesmerizing rise and fall of raw emotion that left me transfixed. Was this some religious ritual, I wondered, thinking back to the muezzin call to prayers that echoed through every Muslim country at dawn. Or perhaps some ancient tribal custom to start the day?