I didn quite listen to the sermon of the village priest whose black attire was almost covered by his hefty rosary which hung loosely around his neck while his little glasses that protected his weak eyes stood on his thin nose without slipping off as he stood erect on the dry grass in front of his small congregation but kept my eyes peeled at the grave in utter sorrow and dismay. The pain in my head was so heavy that I couldn shed out a tear during the funeral service and buried my little body, standing in between two fat women while fixing my red eyes on two hefty men placing a tombstone at the rear side of the grave and I couldn say a word since the shock of her death had overwhelmed me completely. The small sympathizers slowly disperse as each of them pay their condolences to my dead mother immediately after the catholic priest ended his sermon, part of which I didn pay much attention to and went out of the gravesite to the village in order to resume whatever they had to stop for them to attended the small funeral but I remained behind and stood beside the grave for a long time sheerly shrouded in grief which had blotched out the cheerful smile I once expressed in front of my friends each time we had satisfied our pleasurable playful desire of swimming and hunting for fishes at the river.

The fast hours had trickled far into the evening and I didn even realize that the burning mid-day sun had shed its last light upon the surface of the earth, giving way for the darkness to envelope me completely and an enabling environment for the shrill noise of crickets as well as fireflies to thrive freely in the cold windy breeze but I ignored them all and stood without flinching to the coldness of the silent graveyard which was slowly seeping into my weary body, even the noise of the crickets and the surfing fireflies that begin to sway all around me wasn strong enough to distract the grievousness in my heart that forced my arid eyes to wet my face in tears, drooling downwards from the red tear-ducts to my lips. Minutes later, I was screaming in pain and sorrow while hot tears began to stream out from my eyelids soiling my cheeks and I moved a bit closer to get a clearer view at the tombstone that had her name skillfully engraved in bold fonts on it but the perception of the intrusive presence of someone standing afar behind two tall trees before the dense forests, fully cladded in a black cloak while his facial appearance was covered in a black hood, stopped me in my tracks and prevented me from kneeling beside it.

At first, I thought my eyes was playing tricks on me because of the pale light emitted by the sinking sun which inevitably covered the whole area including its long curvy scythe but the movement of the strange figure drifting further away from the trees down a sloppy ridge of thick grasses, made me realize that I wasn seeing a ghost or empty shadows. Fear and nervous anxiety gripped me profoundly as my scared eyes picked out his fast movements from the distant shrubs until the figure arrived at the graveyard, but still a couple of distance away from my trembling feet, and stopped patiently to see my reaction. It suddenly dawn upon me that I was all alone in the cemetery and I had spent a lot of time standing beside the grave which added more fright to my fretful visage that had replaced and eroded my earlier countenance of mournful grief when the stranger first made himself more visible.

I took two steps backward hoping to get into a perfect position to make my escape but the stranger still stood aloof in silence, watching me as if waiting for the right moment to strike just like a predator stalking a cornered prey and shifted myself away from the grave. This time, I really felt the cold chill of the wind which usually penetrate through our broken window of our old cottage during most late hours of the night but it was entirely different standing in the dark, at the cemetery with a total stranger whom I couldn see clearly and whose movements had been swift like the wind. For some time, I paused thinking the stranger would go away but to my dismay, the figure began to move, this time, approaching where I stood, much slowly than ever before and hasten his footsteps once again when he noticed that I was already running away towards the gate.

A sudden gush of wind blew past me after I had run past four other tombstones away from the burial ground and hauled me backwards before I fell to the cold grass which hurt my back and tainted my brown tunic made of rough animal skin leaving me in sheer agony while my furry hat fell off my head allowing my long hair to dangle loosely on my face but before I could get myself back on my feet again, the stranger had already caught up with me and was standing beside me. I tried to gazed at his face as I held my back, and groaned softly while I beheld his dark cloak but his face was completely masked by his hood making it impossible for me to make out his visage, even the darkness aided in making my clear sight vague enough for me not to decipher his looks though his figure was that of a man. I felt helpless at that moment with nowhere to run from the stranger whom I thought would have already carry out his hidden agenda for he surprisingly walked away from where I lay on the ground to the same grave where the casket had been covered by earthen pile of thick sand. The stranger head towards the grave, plodding slowly along the grass in reverence with an aura of black smoke covering his feet until he arrived beside the tombstone while I silently watched his back in sheer curiosity. The intrusive voice of the old woman brought my mind back from the past to the present as I got closer to the little boy who by now, was already licking a small portion of his cony ice cream ignoring his tainted jacket after recklessly spilling the liquid ice cream on it.

”– And he did that?! ”, the silent but coarse voice of the old woman retorted aggressively with a surprising outburst,

”Sure, maam. He took the cash from the car and ran off ”,

”Aww, thats so sad ”,

”It sure is ”. The black man spat out in reply.

”Did you go to the cops? ”,

”Nah, I decided to forget about. It ain worth fighting for ”,

His husky voice resounded deeply in my head as I strolled towards them but I chose to ignore it as well as the two oblivious adults and squatted in front of the young boy whose blue eyes fell on my figure immediately after he noticed my intrusion in his childish endeavor and curiously gazed at me with a perplexed look which clearly revealed his hidden intentions.

I looked at him and wiped off his soiled cheeks clean with my right index finger, ignoring the two adults who were still lost in their own world while the kid remained quiet wondering who I was but he didn squeal or make a sound of protest, nor did he withdrew from me when I caressed his muddled fawn hair before I left him staring blankly at my back as I went into the Chinese restaurant without taking a second look at his face which was completely stunned and astonished to have met a total stranger.

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