" Rose Aylmer Whitmore
Died at the age of 20"
I stopped looking around for a while and stared at this grave longer than I should have. Something about this girl.. I felt sad about her death, though I never knew her. I tear my gaze away from her epitaph, but my mind was still pondering over her sad death. 20. I am 20. What had happened that she died so young? What did she look like? Did she think like other teenagers? I couldn't stop thinking, I just couldn't.
I reluctantly began looking the other way but turned back to see my friend gazing at Rose's grave. It scared me.. the way she looked at the grave.. as though it was someone she knew.
She read the epitaph over and over in her mind and turned to me with a sad face and said "i don't know why.. but I feel like I know her".
I was beyond petrified. I had a good mind of running away from that place right then because I knew my friend wasn't joking. She really was disturbed about this woman's death.
I took her away from there... Tried to talk about silly things to keep her mind off it but I knew she was still pondering over it. She said, "What if she needs help? No one should die so young. What if I was her, in my previous life or something?"
I can't explain how paranoia built up in my mind as she said this, while 1000-s of ghostly images raced through my much too imaginative mind.
We took three rounds of the cemetery, on a sunny winter afternoon. But, even as we left the cemetery, my friend turned to look back at Rose once last time, while I stole a glance myself.
We got home and before I could do so myself, my friend found out more about Rose and the amazing charm she had over the people who visited her "from beyond".
My friend found an article which said :" Rose Aylmer Whitmore, as a carefree girl of 17, used to stroll with the poet Walter Savage Landor, on the mountains and shores of Wales. Within a year of her arrival, she died of cholera at age 20 and Landor was heartbroken. Thoughts of the young Rose, came to the fore, in a famous ode dedicated to her, which was added to the tomb in 1910."
My eyes welled up as I read this and I knew how bad my friend felt about Rose and her dreams as a 20 year old which remained unfulfilled. I guess she was calling out to us... for help or for company.
May be it was just loneliness...
Now, all i remember of her are the lines we read, as we looked at her epitaph for one last time :
"Rose Aylmer, whom these wakeful eyes, / May weep, but never see, / A night of memories and sighs, / I consecrate to thee”
( For Madhu.. My very own RW )