The rain had fallen hard throughout the morning, adding the perfect background to the sombre mood of our family as we drove in silence to the cemetery where we would lay our uncle to rest for eternity. As we alighted our respective vehicles, the rain slowing down to a sprinkling, we could see the mud that awaited us. I glanced at my new, shiny shoes for a second, mentally shrugging off the mess that awaited us. Mud can always be washed off I thought.
The quartet of gravediggers had already been hard at work opening the family plot to receive its third member. These men, with their loud voices, barking orders about how to shovel, where to step, how long before their task was done, provided the only consistent noise in our vicinity. They were a rag tag of men, in their early 40s or 50s. It was hard to tell because of the layer of dirt that covered them from head to toe. No one could escape the mud, typical of this area in Trinidad. Red, clayey soil that was thick and heavy and stuck to the shovels and shoes of everyone.
Z and I clung to our roses, given to us by our uncle's wife to rest upon the closed grave at the end of the burial. We barely looked at each other, deep in our own memories, fearful that eye contact would open a floodgate that we preferred closed at the moment. As usual, I led the way, testing the path for my sister, gingerly skirting the muddier parts, coming to stand successfully in front the now closed grave. My rose upon the pile of dirt, I half-turned to put my hand out to Z who was making her way to towards me like a new-born goat. As she approached, I released her hand so she could go about the business of saying goodbye to an uncle of whom she was especially fond.
I could feel a multitude of eyes on us. We were a source of curiosity to many there. The "American" nieces who many had known as much younger children now all grown up. Z was oblivious. As she placed her rose on the grave, a voice boomed through the air.
"Your name is Maressa? You is Maressa?"
I looked up into the eyes of one of the gravediggers who was standing two arms lengths away from us, his gaze intent upon Z. I shook my head, mumbling no as one of our cousins, annoyed, tried to wave this persistent character away. Z might have begun to realize that the commotion had something to do with her but she turned and started walking away while our gravedigger, a would-be Casanova, was not to be so easily thwarted from his goal.
"Find me on Facebook," he yelled, to our turned backs as we walked away, "My name is William. W-I-L-L-I-A-M..."
Z with her suga'face, finding romance in cemeteries and breaking hearts of gravediggers since August 2013.