A Grave In The Woods

They fought bitterly most of the days now. They had no willingness to want to overcome their bitterness towards each other. The words they said to each other had no mercy for the other’s sentiments. One such day she cried tears that ran deep etches into her heart and ran out the front door. She had had enough of the hurtful words he hurled onto her and she didn’t want to live under the same roof anymore. She first ran through the woods with feet as light as lightening. She threw caution into the air and didn’t see the thorny shrubs that tore her skin or the poison ivy that grew around the dense forest pathway. She just knew she had to flee away from him and away from their painful past and that afternoon two years ago which changed everything for them.

Her feet slowed down gradually as she neared a small graveyard in the woods not even encircled with the most modest fencing. She plucked some wild flowers and her feet stopped at a small marble grave where she knelt down and tears filled her eyes. There on the black stone surface were engraved words, “To my son David, one year wasn’t enough for us to love you and yet it is enough to keep loving you forever, Sarah and James.” Two years had not erased that pain of when they had laid the still body of her one year old son who had died in an accident.

She had been nursing him when James called out to say he would be gone sometime in the orchard to see how the oranges were coming up. She had made a pot of steaming tea and then thought of giving a flask to James as well. Her infant was sound asleep in the cot and would be fine while she quickly went to give tea to her husband. She had done this before and had found the baby safe always. But she had taken time to get to him and then James needed some help so she had stayed a little longer. When she returned she saw smoke in the sky overhead and wondered what was happening—Oh! Not another fire in the forest!! She suddenly leapt into a run and found a crowd of people—neighbors, firemen from the town and strangers, all huddled together in confusion, indecisive about what next to do and panic seeing the fire. Some people were shouting for help, “The house has caught fire!!” was when it dawned on her what was happening. Then a small voice inside her said, “This couldn’t be happening, little David was inside!!”

The house was fully ablaze by the time she caught her wits about her with a fire bigger than she had ever seen. There was no time to go call for James and whatever had to be done had to be done by her. She put on her coat tighter around her, covered her hair with the woolen scarf and entered the thick blanket of smoke and fire.

People stopped her from going into the house. A fireman caught her by the shoulder and shouted, “Ma’m there is nothing left in there worth saving, it’s all gone.” “My poor David!” Sarah thought and ran into the fire. It took her a long time to reach where David had been sleeping. She found him alright but not the way she expected him to be, the fair handsome baby that he was. She fainted at the sight. When James and the firemen found her they found her covering a fully burnt body of an infant using her entire body. “My poor David,” she murmured for days in the hospital where she herself was recovering from her burn injuries.

She wept all over again crouched there in that graveyard as she put the flowers on her son’s grave. She loved him and she would always love him. She would hold him in her heart for as long as she lived. She would never forget anything about him. He would be her son forever.

She felt a hand rest on her shoulders, the same hands that had held her after she lost David. Together Sarah and James looked at the grave for a long time and walked hand in hand slowly through the woods to their home. Somewhere someplace sunshine fell on them making everything beautiful around them all over again.

The love for their son who was now dead and their pain at losing him would bind their love forever.

*The essay is written by Urmila Chanam.

*The writer works in a British Multinational Company in Bangalore.

(Courtesy: The Sangai Express)

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