blog 99 the banshee comes for me

That dusk I walked among the wild roses of the ghostly ruined garden. I came to the unquiet grave of the shroud. I knelt down. I sang a dirge in English and then in Pashto.

‘I sing a dirge for a shroud.
Not for a woman for I know her not.
Not for a man for I know him not.
Not for a clan for I knew them not.
I sing a dirge for a shroud.

I sing a dirge for a shroud.
A shroud wrapping a woman alive
A shroud imprisoning a woman alive
A shroud burying a woman alive
I sing a dirge for a shroud.

I sing a dirge for a shroud.
A long black shroud once pale blue
a long black shroud of ghostly hue
a long black shroud damning you.
I sing a dirge for a shroud.

I sing a dirge for a shroud.
But I sing this Pashto lament for you
I sing this in Pashto to release you
I sing this in Pashto to liberate you.
I sing to free your soul from this shroud.’

I waited all night but saw nought but the moon riding the sky as I smelled the night blooming jasmine. I rose up at dawn. The smell of wild roses filled the dewy air. I turned to walk away. Then I heard a sound. I shuddered the way the young man shuddered as I turned around to see the banshee standing before me in her long black veil. Then she slowly, slowly, oh so slowly raised her long black veil and I saw her face. It was the face of a ten year old girl.

“I am so very sorry” I said.

She smiled. Then she tossed away the long black veil. She held up her pale face to the sun for the first and last time in her entire life. Then she smiled at me and walked away into the garden among the wild roses, vanishing into the dew of dawn. I looked down. Entangled in the spurs of my boots was the long veil. It was a shroud. I picked the shroud up. There was a small name tag. I read the name. Nicholson. I folded my shroud up very carefully the way one folds the nation’s flag. I told it back to my digs and put it at the bottom of my trunk for my funeral. The next day I was told I was being transferred to Fort Ghuzni in Afghanistan. It is 1841. I was 19 years old.

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