The sky was gloomy, but being new in town, I decided to take a walk around the small town, which was my new home. The dim light of the sun was casting creepy shadows, making the whole town seem like a set of a 90’s horror film. There were only few people outside of their houses, mostly kids who were playing.
There was one kid that caught my attention. The kid, with an innocent smile on his lips, was looking at me. He slowly walked towards a road that I still haven’t checked. He beckoned me and so I followed.
The trees on the side of the road were looming over me. The sunlight was getting dimmer, making the whole situation creepier than it already was. I continued to follow the child, as if it was the most normal thing to do during my first week in a new town. The place wasn’t so bad though. It was really quiet, but it wasn’t a bad thing. It would actually be a good place to walk by during a Sunday morning.
The little game of follow-the-child came to an end when I realized he wasn’t in front of me anymore, and that the beautiful silence was replaced by the sound of a sobbing woman. If curiosity didn’t get the best of me, I would head home and forget that walk, but it did get the best of me. I followed the sound. In a while, I found that my feet brought me to a cemetery. As if I had no control over my body, I kept on walking towards the sobbing woman.
I cleared my throat loud enough to tell the woman that she wasn’t alone anymore, and with that, her head snapped to my direction. I was able to see her red, swollen eyes. I could see her attempt in looking presentable as she roughly wiped her tear-stained cheeks. I could see through those tears that she was once a pretty woman, but something masked it.
Silence hung over us. I had no idea if I should say something and if I had to do so, I didn’t know what to say. I could feel that she, too, didn’t know what to say to a stranger who interrupted her grieving. As the sunlight got dimmer, the silence grew heavier. In the end, I headed home and I could only assume that she did the same.
Almost every morning, I walked by the same road with a lot of questions in my mind. Who is that kid? Where is he? I still haven’t got the answers to those questions when a new question popped during my walk. As I passed by the cemetery, I heard the sobbing of a woman. When I checked, it was the same woman I saw during the first time I walked by that road. Why is she crying? Why is she always in the cemetery?
I passed by the same woman while I was in the market. Due to my obvious curiosity, I talked to the woman, “I’m Federigo, the guy from the cemetery.”
Silence hung over us for a while before she replied, “Oh. I do remember you. I’m Monna.” She offered her hand for a handshake, and so I took it. She still had that sad look on her face, which made me more curious.
As days go by, Monna and I started to talk more but I avoided asking her about the reason of her frequent visits in the cemetery. In Monna, I found the mother I never had as I never met my mother. I would help her with cooking, washing clothes, shopping in the market, or just talking over a steaming cup of coffee. She soon then insisted that I call her “Mama”.
Then there came a day when I felt like I had to ask her the questions that bothered me for quite some time.
“Why do you go to the cemetery every sunset and cry, mama?”
She set the plate of homemade cookies on the table and went inside her house. It made me felt as if I had offended her.
I was about to follow her and to apologize when she went out with a photo album in hand. I watched her sit on the chair across mine before she handed me the photo album. I took it and started to look at the photographs, my eyes widening as I see more of it.
“That’s my son,” she took a deep breath as if the next words were the worst ones she would say, “he drowned in the river a couple of years ago.”
As much as I wanted to speak, all I did was to nod. I did not have the guts to tell her that I saw her son that first time I saw her in the cemetery.
After that, I never opened up that topic again. Although, every time I walk by the cemetery, I visit her son and thank him for leading me to mama.