The perils of grading

There is this cemetery near our house and, near the cemetery, there is a playground Francisco wanted to visit.

Off we go, crossing the cemetery. Najuma and Francisco are ahead of me, he busy picking up pine cones, she pulling the wagon that Francisco insisted we take with us. I am distracted, reading the last few pages of a homework set I want to finish grading.

There is a wooden sort of plank on the ground. You see where this is going, don’t you?

Anyway, I did not even get to step on the thing, wafer-thin as it was. As I am putting my foot down, I realize the mistake. Gravity is a marvelous thing; it is the first thing I tried to teach Francisco, 3 years or so ago, how gravity works; this is just a practical lesson. Because the wood breaks and falls and I fall with it, 6 feet or so. Najuma said later that she heard a loud noise, a rumbling coming from the ground. She turned, and saw me disappear.

The two of them approach as I try to get up, and somehow manage to find enough strength to lift myself out of the grave. (As a kid, this is the sort of thing I never had enough strength to do. The one time I went rock climbing, it was what stopped me from reaching higher than I did.) Francisco thinks it is a game and wants to go down the hole as well. Crying ensues.

And that’s it, really. Somehow I managed not to injure myself. Except for a bit of dirt here and there, you cannot really tell anything happened (the pages I was reading are somehow neatly stacked next to the hole). We looked in vain for somebody, so they can cover the hole.

“Good thing you are not superstitious,” Najuma tells me.


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