by Naresh Kumar
Beneath a pine tree
A young woman lay suffering on her deathbed, her stillborn baby lying against her chest. Her young husband crouched close, stricken with grief. His beautiful wife crooned a lullaby to her dead baby, her voice growing fainter as death drew near.
Finally, she looked at her husband and asked him to bury her back East, beside her dead mother. Choked with grief, the young husband agreed. But after his wife lay still in death, her husband could not bear to be parted from her and their dead child. He had them buried together beneath a lonely pine tree on a gently sloping knoll near their home, where he could visit the grave. As spring drew near, fragrant wildflowers bloomed across the knoll and the small grave.
One night, the husband threw himself across the flower-strewn grave, head buried in his arms as he tried to control his grief. As he lay there, the stillness of the night seemed to deepen. A light breeze tousled his hair and swayed the branches of the pine tree. At that moment, he heard a soft voice crooning a lullaby. He started upright, searching about for his wife. He heard a gurgle from an infant, a happy sound of contentment.
Then the breeze died away, and the branches of the pine tree stilled. Then a shining light seemed to descend from the dark sky and hover over the young husband and the small grave under the tree. The husband heard the singing again, and the happy laugh of a small child. And then there was darkness.
The husband went home that night with peace in his heart for the first time since the death of his wife.
People say that on dark, summery nights you can still hear the young mother singing a lullaby, and hear the happy chuckles of her tiny child.