Lilly visits this grave, every year, on the same day. And he is there, like always. Today, however, the secret that was buried long ago shall finally be unearthed.
It is the 26th of October, I realize. The first rays of dawn creep into my bedroom. I freshen up and wear one of my black suits, though I know it will be of little significance.
Walking up to the dining table, I smile knowing the day means little to me. There she sits-my Mumma, all ready for our little drive. I hurry up with the breakfast, noticing the restlessness she is trying hard to conceal.
It is a warm day for the month. As we drive on to our destination, I notice the leaves withering off, just like the other years. The path seems unchanged. After all, there are very few travellers on this side of the town.
My wagon slowly comes to stop before a board reading, “Burial Ground”. It has become darker over the years. I remember coming here for the first time, hanging around Mumma. The board was white then.
I look across to Mumma seated beside and give her a smile. She smiles back. Mixed emotions of excitement and grief play across her face.
I help her out and lock the car though there is little need for that. My wagon looks out of place in the setting. The place has very few visitors with the new grave opened further up in town.
I walk with Mumma along a path which is slowly disappearing. There are mosses growing all around and we pass stones, big and small with stories buried under them. I notice withered flowers upon a couple of them.
“Wait here”, she says as we reach the spot that has been familiar for years. “Mumma, let me…”, my voice trails off as I know she won’t listen anymore. It is the same story every year.
She trods off leaving me behind. The sun plays hide and seek among the clouds. I wonder if graveyards were always this dull.
I watch as Mumma walks her way along the invisible path. She is becoming old and her legs are often failing her. But hardly does she care.
My Mumma, she has always been strong. I cannot remember the day she ran off with me gripped close to her chest from my monster of a father. I always imagine how difficult it might have been for her. But she never lost hope. Working as hard as she could, she brought ourselves a beautiful life, making me the man I am today.
A smile passes my lips as Mumma reaches the grave all by herself. She is not alone, I notice. It’s him again, mysterious Mr Gray. No, Gray is not his name; I don’t know what is. But I’m sure he keeps his Gray tuxedo every year for this day. He arrived much early and so did he every other year. I wonder who he is and as always finds no answer. Nobody seems to know.
Mumma stands facing the grave. Mr Gray stands beside her. They just have a brief moment of acknowledgement. Never have I seen them talking with each other. They don’t know each other, I suppose.
The grave doesn’t belong to my father. Mumma never visited him after she left and I don’t see a point now when he’s long dead.
But each year, she never misses this visit. The grave is named after Mr Albert. Mumma never talked about him. But the townsfolk does not like to shut up.
They tell me all kinds of stories about Albert and Mumma. I had a love story myself but I like theirs better.
Albert and Mumma were friends from the day they knew each other. Their fathers were business partners, more like friends. However, a contradictory decision in one of the plans turned them arch-rivals.
Even before any of these could happen, Albert and Mumma had realized their love for each other. Knowing this, my grandpapa made a decision he regretted till his death. He arranged for her marriage to some random guy.
Mumma and Albert planned to elope like in every other story. But before she could reach, Grandpapa’s goons had found him. In a fight that followed, he fell off the cliff.
I had wandered off to the cliff in the past and saw why his body could not be traced. It was dead-high. All Mumma was left with was the ring they had exchanged with their names engraved.
Today is the anniversary of the dreadful day. Every year, Mumma visited the grave built in his memory and replaced the flowers.
She stands there, silent. I count minutes, even though I know it will be an hour or so before she returns. I’m sure she knows each new moss that might have covered the stone.
When she has had her peace, she slowly stirs. She nods to Mr Gray and walks back. He is still at the stone. I wonder if he lives here by the graves to accompany each mourner who visits.
Mumma walks past me. She hardly acknowledges my presence. I know it will be a day until she starts speaking again.
I follow her. My phone suddenly rings. It’s from the office. I move further to find network. “Mumma, give me a minute”, I call after her.
I instruct the accountant who finds it difficult to handle things on her own while I watch Mumma find her way to the car. As I hang up on her, I hear a cough behind me. It’s Mr Gray. “Hallo!”, I say. He smiles and walks close to me. I don’t remember noticing that limp before.
“You are Lilly’s son, aren’t you?”, he asks. I nod, smiling. I had never got as close to him before. I can almost make out the scars that mark his face.
“What is your name, sir?”, I ask. He does not seem to hear. He smiles weakly and looks at the grave behind him.
He shakes hand with me and as he withdraws, his ring falls into my hand.
The name on it read, ‘Lilly’