Ernest Dempsey — This May as I stepped in my home on a visit to my hometown, I hadn’t expected to find a grave inside my house. I never knew of one until the last time I was there. But it had happened and happened so secretly that I had not been informed by anyone on phone or by any means. So my discovery was, naturally, surprising. But it took me less than a second to connect to the spirit that oversaw the entire story.
My informant was my youngest niece that afternoon. As I sat having lunch after the tiring travel, the kid sat by me and talked to me, re-socializing after a month of separation. Telling me about home and people and events, she said, “We made a grave there in the yard,” pointing at the place with her finger.
“Grave? For whom?” I asked, a little surprised.
“The sparrow, you don’t know?” she answered.
“Oh, tell me about it”, I asked her. She started telling how a sparrow fell inside the house and died. So she and her sister and another child took the sparrow to the middle of the yard and buried it there. I asked her if she will show me the grave. She agreed.
So after the lunch, she led me to the place where I could see dried mud defining a small, roughly circular area, bordered by pebbles, with small twigs stuck at the borders and decorative fabric, discolored by rain, wrapped around them so as to “shelter” the grave as is done traditionally in the local cemeteries. I sat there with the child, silence connecting the spirits in and out of the grave and all around. All resentments of people abusing life and nature dissolved in the silent music that celebrated my pilgrimage in the house.
Later, I learnt that strong wind had blown the unfortunate sparrow inside our house and had it smashed against the glass window, causing its death. The three little girls were playing when the sparrow fell dead near them. They quickly got to her and tried to revive her but when told by the grownups that the bird had died, they decided to bury it as people are buried upon the final departure. This was the first funeral and burial of their young lives.
In the late afternoon, I once again visited the sparrow’s grave with the youngest angel. Wind had started to blow leaves and small, light things about the place. The decorative ribbons were blown off the twigs, leaving the grave surface bare.
“It is not good,” the child had a tone of religious commitment as she replaced the pale ribbons to where they were previously. She sat by the grave for a while, looking solemn in silence like paying respect to the deceased. I stood there, still, after taking a photo of the grave. Silence had its music and the wind sang us a song. Without embracing a ritual, my pilgrimage was complete. I held the hand of the angel to return to my world, though I never left the small shrine in spirit.