JOHN HELD no fear as a digger of graves, though each time he shoveled the burial soil, which resonated a sound akin to mashing one’s fist against a thick layer of sand, cold shivers would still trouble his skin.
On his last tug of the shovel, John turned his back and witnessed what seemed to be his mother and father. He then felt a peculiar atmosphere— as if the wind became colder to the touch and the candles scattered across the cemetery burned fiercely as their flames danced to the rhythms of the wind. The stiffness of his fingers died down and tears began to flow along his cheeks.
“Kanina ka pa ba nababahala?” the mother started.
“Hindi naman masyado,” John responded in a low tone, “nakababagabag lang isipin na ako ang naghuhukay ng pinakahuling kanlungan ng mga bangkay.”
“Kung buhay pa ang mga nakabaon sa ilalim ng lupang tinatapakan mo, laking pasasalamat ang huling ipapahayag nila sa’yo.”
“Dahil sa ginagawa mo,” the father interrupted, “nakikita natin ang mga lapida kung saan naka-ukit ang nga pangalan ng mga yumao pati ang kahabaan ng naging buhay nila. Wala lahat ang ito kung hindi dahil sa’yo, anak.”
John turned his back to contemplate the many tombstones. Then, the wind had worn out and the candle lights fainted. His hands, now firmer, wrapped around the shaft of his shovel. Once more, he continued digging on the eve before All Souls’ Day. F