Algerian Proverb: When they’re Gone it’s Too Late

كي كان حي اشتاق تمرة، كي مات علقولو عرجون

Transliteration: Ki kan Hay chtaq temra ki mat ‘alqolo ‘arjoun

Literal translation: When he was alive he craved a date, when he died they hung a bunch for him.

When he was alive, hungry and poor, craving a date, no one offered him any help. Nobody cared about him. People saw him suffering and in desperate need of even such a small thing, yet they turned their eyes away. A date, which if they gave it to him, they would not even notice the absence of it. It would not make them poor or hungry. They would be unaffected by sharing, especially in such small quantities. Yet they still turned away.

When he died, those very same people, hung a bunch of dates for him. They cried and spoke of him highly, mourning for him and for his poor state. Now that he is dead, those dates mean nothing. They provide him no help, ease or comfort. Yet they hung a bunch. When it is too late. Much too little far too late. Why do they hang a bunch of dates for him now that he has died when they couldn’t even offer him one date when he was alive? For who is this charade for?

Why do people grieve so loudly for someone they gave no thought or care to when they were alive?

It is important to be mindful of one’s actions and words to every single person we come across. We have to help people in any small way we can, whenever we have the means or opportunity. Especially when we would expect or look for the same help if we were in that position we find other people in. When someone has died, it is too late to try and make yourself feel better for the lack of your help or action when they were alive. That is the only purpose it serves when people grieve so loudly and lavishly for someone they gave no time or help to when they were alive.




  1. That was such an incredibly written reminder, Jazakulkahu Khayran for sharing it! It really is sad how that seems to happen but your post truly was encouraging to remember we should try our best while we still can, to give feesabililah ~ ✨

    Liked by 1 person

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