By unanimous vote, they elected me to be the one who was going to go back home and get some lunch. They were all adults with the exception of few children around my age. But those are direct descendants, I was the intruder, therefore, I had no right to protest. It never occurred to me to say I did not know the way, it was my first time there, I was not familiar with the terrain and the place was not exactly highlighted in the map (besides, there was no map) in fact, it was in the middle of nowhere and if I remember correctly, quite a long walk from where we came from. Why people had to wash their clothes in God’s forsaken place where the water was so brown and dirty the surface was adorned with floating unspeakable, I had no idea. But who am I to complain? I was only eight years old and knew nothing so, off I went.
It was a glorious day (like most days in that part of the world) the sun was beating down my neck and there was a slight breeze which I was grateful for it provided some respite from all that heat. I have chosen the path to follow from crisscrossing beaten tracks by feelings alone since I had no idea where to go. In my thoughts, I was more or less halfway when all of a sudden from one second to another it went dark. Not so dark that I could not see anymore where I was heading but dark enough to think that from noon the day shifted suddenly to a beginning of an evening. So far so good.
After few hundreds meter, I found myself on a sloping path that leads to a river. Some river. The water was ink black and the trees that were standing on its banks were twisting violently in the wind which for some reason did not affect other vegetation surrounding the area including the ones behind me. I will tell you this because it’s true. When one is so young and one’s mind is not yet corrupted one doesn’t feel easily afraid.
Though the situation might look bizarre to most people, to me that was just another day in paradise. I have been brought up not to ask questions but follow instruction blindly or otherwise, all the hell will break loose, so, I waded in.
There were various things in that murky water. All of them floating against the current. One was a small coffin which passed directly in front of me I could not resist opening the already askew lid. Lying inside was a small child of around five years old in a fetal position, eyes closed; I quickly replaced the lid and sent the box on its way.
I came out into an old abandoned cemetery. It was so dilapidated that some of the graves were broken and lying open. By that time, it was already raining so hard I was soaked through and through. I didn’t remember when it had started because I was so engrossed with the idea of reaching home and completing my task I didn’t care much about the rest.
Negotiating my way between broken debris, I felt the hairs on my neck suddenly standing up and I knew by instinct that I was not alone anymore. I looked up and saw a baby boy of around 6-8 months old, bald and naked perched on top of a broken high concrete wall, smiling malevolently at me, eyes blazing. Most people would run by then but not me, I started walking slowly in reverse instead keeping my eyes on the baby. What happened next will be forever engraved in my memory as long as I live. When I thought he cannot see me anymore even from his peripheral vision, I decided to turn around and was about to run when the evil-looking infant twisted his head and turned it around 360 degrees to my direction. My mind corrupted or not suddenly screamed at me to run and I did_ as fast as I could.
My feet brought me to the adjacent newly built memorial garden. I saw that there was a burial going on. I sought refuge from the rain under the rose bushes and watched. A very kind lady noticed me and came with her umbrella. She motioned for me to come with her inside the vehicle which was parked a few meters away. I refused. She begged, cajoled to get me out from my shelter for seemed hours to me, but in the end, she gave up and drove away with sadness in her eyes. She told me I was pretty.
The rain stopped and I hopped on top of the low wall surrounding the property to find my way home. I like walking in that small tight space. I pretended I was on a balance beam. After a while, a cat joined me. S/he walked on the front of me and once and a while throw me side glances as if to see if I was still following. When the wall ended, we both jumped off and I was amazed to find out that I was home! I never see the cat again.
To this day, I am still wondering… how things would’ve turned out if I have made a different decision in the past… like going with that (kind?) lady?