Unearthing the Forgotten

Unearthing the Forgotten

In the heart of Angkor Thom, located in present-day Cambodia, ancient temples whispered their tales and lush greenery embraced the land. Here, Malina, a gravedigger, lived, haunted by an unspoken terror. She was a young woman with a timid disposition, her delicate eyes, like the startled doe in the meadow, forever widened with a concealed fear. Malina possessed an uncanny knack for sensing danger, particularly in the darkness. Aversion to darkness had plagued her since childhood, but she had managed to conceal her terror, as if it were a carefully guarded secret.

Born into a lineage of caretakers, Malina’s family had long held the responsibility of tending to the village graveyard. Her ancestors had embraced the role of guardians, ensuring the peaceful rest of the departed. It was a solemn duty passed down through generations. From a young age, Malina had watched her parents, with unwavering dedication, prepare the final resting places, their hands embracing the earth as they dug deep into the soil. Their reverence for the deceased was palpable like a melody whispered in the wind.

Malina’s father, a stoic figure with calloused hands and gentle eyes, had shared tales of the graveyard’s sacredness. He talked about the bond between the living and the deceased, illustrating how their spirits intertwined like the intricate network of veins in a majestic oak tree, sustaining the perpetual rhythm of existence and mortality.

Malina’s mother, a woman of quiet strength, had taught her the importance of empathy and understanding. She shared stories of individuals who had faced their fears head-on, emerging stronger, their hearts illuminated by the light of compassion.

Inspired by her family’s unwavering dedication and the tales that swirled around her, Malina felt drawn to continue the legacy. But a secret fear gnawed at her core, threatening to overshadow her desire to honor her family’s traditions. The darkness, an ever-present specter, whispered doubts and insecurities, making her question her own ability to fulfill the role of a gravedigger.

Yet, amidst her fears, Malina recognized the profound impact her family’s work had on the community. The graveyard was not a place of dread, but a sanctuary where stories of lives lived and lessons learned were etched into the soil. It was a testament to the interconnectedness of all beings—a reminder that even in death, one’s spirit continued to resonate, guiding the living along their own paths.

And so,  in spite of her fear of the darkness, with trepidation and determination intermingled with each other, Malina embraced her destiny as a gravedigger. Her hands, once hesitant, now found solace in the soil, connecting her to the departed souls and their narratives.

As Malina ventured into the graveyard each evening, her lantern casting a feeble glow upon the tombstones, she felt the presence of her ancestors, their spirits guiding her steps. They whispered encouragement in the rustling of the leaves, reminding Malina of her purpose amidst the darkness.

Her family’s legacy became her strength, her foundation. Their stories of compassion, courage, and unwavering devotion echoed within her, propelling her forward as she confronted her own fear of the shadows.

With every grave she dug, Malina challenged her fear of darkness, honored her ancestors, and embraced the interconnectedness of life and death. The graveyard, once a place of trepidation, transformed into her sanctuary—a realm of stories waiting to be unearthed, of lessons waiting to be shared.

Angkor Thom was renowned for its mysterious legends and the tales of spirits that wandered the night. The locals believed that the darkness held a palpable aura, something lurking in the shadows that could send shivers down the spines of even the bravest souls. Yet, Malina, who was ironically a gravedigger, had chosen to face her deepest fear head-on every single day. And in the depths of the darkness that terrified Malina, she discovered the profound beauty of her family’s legacy—a legacy of love, resilience, and the enduring power of embracing one’s fears to find purpose and connection.

Her life had become a precarious dance, teetering on the edge of the abyss. Each evening, as the sun dipped below the horizon, Malina reluctantly ventured into the graveyard to tend to her morbid duty. Armed with a lantern that barely cut through the murky darkness, she would carefully tread among the tombstones, trying to ignore the whispers of dread that clung to her every step.

One fateful evening, as Malina prepared to enter the graveyard, a torrential downpour swept across the village. The relentless rain pounded against the earth, turning the dirt pathways into a quagmire. Malina hesitated, her heart racing as she contemplated postponing her task until the following day.

“Surely, the dead won’t mind waiting a little longer,” she mumbled to herself, attempting to convince her trembling limbs. “The souls resting beneath the soil can endure one more night, can they not?” However, a sense of responsibility gnawed at her conscience. She knew that the deceased deserved a proper resting place, rain or shine. With a deep breath, she clenched her lantern tightly and plunged into the tempestuous night.

As she trudged through the waterlogged graveyard, her lantern flickering precariously, Malina couldn’t help but feel a chilling presence lurking just beyond the reach of her light. It was as if the darkness itself was alive, its tendrils slithering and caressing her fears. Amidst the sodden graveyard, where raindrops weaved a watery veil, Malina’s lantern fought valiantly against the murky gloom. Yet, tendrils of darkness, like spectral hands, seemed to tease her from the corners of her vision, stirring an ancient dread within her soul.

A clap of thunder jolted her from her thoughts, and she quickened her pace, driven by instinctual urgency. The storm intensified, rain pouring down in torrents, obscuring her vision. Malina’s mind raced with wild imaginings, her pulse racing in tandem with the tempest.

Then, from the corner of her eye, she caught a glimpse of movement. Her heart leaped into her throat, and she spun around, her lantern casting eerie shadows on the tombstones. But nothing was to be found—only the storm’s wrath and the intangible darkness, whispering secrets known only to itself. The rain and the oppressive darkness played tricks on her senses.

Unnerved, Malina shook off her paranoia and continued her work, digging a fresh grave with practiced efficiency. As she labored in the sodden earth, the storm raged on, a symphony of nature’s fury that seemed to echo her inner turmoil. She excavated the earth, carving a solemn resting place for the departed. With each scoop of mud, her heart harmonized with the rain’s steady rhythm, fear, and determination entwined like a delicate dance.

Suddenly, a voice called out from the darkness. “Hey, you there! What on earth are you doing?”

Malina’s heart leaped, her lantern flickering in synchrony with her racing pulse. Rain cascaded around her like liquid silver. Startled, she turned to find a man standing at the entrance of the graveyard, his clothes drenched and mud-splattered. He wore a wide grin on his face, despite the inclement weather.

“I’m sorry, sir. I’m a gravedigger,” Malina stammered, trying to compose herself. “I’m just doing my job.”

The man burst into laughter, his boisterous chuckles piercing through the storm. “A gravedigger? My, my! I never thought I’d meet such a brave soul on a night like this. You’re a rarity, my dear.”

Confusion mingled with relief, and Malina couldn’t help but smile in response. Her face softened, a crescent moon emerging from behind clouded doubts. The man’s infectious humor had momentarily shattered her fears, breathing a flicker of light into her darkness.

As they conversed, Malina learned that the man was a renowned storyteller, a weaver of words from a neighboring village. He had sought refuge in Angkor Thom due to the storm. Intrigued by Malina’s unique profession, he urged her to share her experiences, to delve into the depths of her fear and unravel its mysteries.

Through their conversations, Malina discovered that her fear of the darkness was not an isolated burden. The man revealed tales of his own anxieties and how he had overcome them, drawing parallels between her work as a gravedigger and his craft as a wordsmith. He spoke of how both professions involved unearthing hidden truths, be it in the physical world or within the recesses of the mind.

“But! Wait! Why! What? You’re scared of the dark, and you work in a cemetery? You can take up any other profession.” The storyteller asked with a puzzled look, unable to comprehend the connection between Malina’s fear and her chosen profession.

Malina hesitated for a moment before sharing her decision with her friend, but still replied, “I decided to take up my family’s legacy and become a gravedigger, even though I’m terrified of the dark. It may seem strange, but there’s a deeper reason behind it.”

Malina took a deep breath, steeling herself for the explanation. She nodded. With her determination shining through her eyes, she continued, “Yes, it’s true. But I have a strong desire to confront my fear and find solace within the shadows that have always haunted me.”

“Wow, that’s… incredibly brave of you Malina!” The storyteller’s confusion lingered, but he couldn’t deny the courage emanating from Malina.

“I am trying. I’ve always been drawn to the stories held within the cemetery. There’s a deep connection I feel with the departed souls, and working as a gravedigger allows me to honor their memories and preserve their stories for future generations.”

The storyteller nodded, beginning to understand the underlying motivation behind Malina’s choice, “I see. So, has working in the graveyard helped you conquer your fear? Won’t it make your fear even worse?”

Malina’s voice carried a mix of reflection and excitement as she talked about how her fear was gradually transforming as she delved deeper into the mysteries of the cemetery. Unearthing the forgotten stories of those who have long been gone has started to diminish her fear and replaced it with a newfound appreciation for the power and beauty held within the darkness.

The storyteller listened to Malina, intrigued, he couldn’t help but acknowledge the significance of Malina’s journey. He felt as if Malina had found her calling by overcoming her fear and becoming a storyteller in the process. Malina’s face lit up with a mixture of gratitude and determination.

The storyteller smiled. His expression shifted from confusion to admiration, “Wow, that’s… incredibly brave of you. Is there any other reason behind this decision?

“There exactly is,” Malina replied, taking a deep breath, preparing herself for the forthcoming revelation. “ By embracing the darkness, I’ve found my purpose. I want to bridge the gap between the living and the dead, shedding light on the forgotten tales of the past. It hasn’t been an easy journey, but I believe it’s worth it. I’m on a path of self-discovery and transformation, and through the stories I uncover, I hope to make a meaningful difference.”

Malina believed that by immersing herself in the very source of her fear, the cemetery, she could learn to navigate the darkness and ultimately find liberation from its grasp. Her heart swelled with gratitude as she realized the storyteller’s support. They became good friends.

Days turned into weeks, and Malina found herself opening up to the storyteller, unburdening herself of the weight she had carried for so long. With each passing conversation, her fear of the darkness began to wane, like the moon’s glow emerging from behind storm clouds. Malina, now emboldened by the storyteller’s wisdom, embraced her fears like a blossoming lotus in a moonlit pond. She shed her timid guise, becoming a harbinger of stories, infusing courage into her fellow villagers through her tales.

On a calm and starlit night, with the storm but a memory, Malina and the storyteller sat together on a hill overlooking the village. The silvery moon bathed them in its ethereal light, casting long shadows on the ground.

“Malina, my dear friend,” the storyteller began, his voice laced with admiration. “You have faced your deepest fear, toiled in the dark without succumbing to its clutches. You have traversed the chasms of fear, unearthing truths buried within the darkest corners of your soul. You have conquered the abyss within you.”

Tears welled up in Malina’s eyes, her heart swelling with gratitude, like a morning flower blooming at the touch of dawn. She had never expected to find solace in the company of a stranger, let alone conquer her fear. The storyteller’s words of admiration breathed life into her weary spirit, validating her journey of self-discovery.

“But remember, my dear,” the storyteller continued, his voice now tinged with mystery. “Sometimes, darkness isn’t what it seems. It can guard secrets and reveal truths, in equal measure.”

As his words hung in the air, Malina felt a shiver run down her spine. The cryptic message left her wondering if there was more to her fear than it actually was.  hat hidden truth lay beneath the surface?

Days turned into months, and Malina’s newfound courage propelled her to explore the world beyond her village. She ventured into the darkest corners of Cambodia, unearthing tales of forgotten spirits and unraveling ancient mysteries. With each discovery, her fear of the darkness diminished further, replaced by an insatiable curiosity.

One fateful night, while delving into an ancient tomb, Malina’s tenacious hands brushed against a hidden compartment concealed beneath layers of neglect. Her heart quickened, a fragile bird beating its wings against the cage of anticipation. Gently, she pried open the concealed door, and as it yielded to her touch, a room bathed in ethereal luminescence was unveiled.

Inside the hidden compartment, Malina discovered a worn, leather-bound journal. Its pages were yellowed with age, bearing witness to the passage of time. The faded ink chronicled the tales of a forgotten poet, whose words danced upon the parchment with grace and longing. It was a treasure trove of verses, carrying emotions of love, loss, and the resilience of the human spirit.

With trembling hands, Malina leafed through the pages, each turn unveiling a glimpse into the dead poet’s soul. The words resonated deep within her, striking chords of recognition and understanding. It was as if the poet’s spirit had found solace in the quiet solitude of the tomb, leaving behind his legacy, awaiting a kindred soul to breathe life into his forgotten verses.

As Malina read, a profound connection formed between her and the dead poet’s words. She felt the poet’s fears, his desires, his unspoken dreams coursing through her veins like an ancient river. The journal became her guide, leading her to new realms of storytelling and inspiring her to embrace her fears, weaving them into narratives that touched the hearts of the villagers.

With the poet’s verses as her guiding light, Malina’s tales transformed from mere stories into windows of the human condition. Her voice carried the echoes of the past, intertwining with the present, and illuminating the path to a brighter future. The forgotten poet’s words breathed life once again, finding resonance in the hearts of those who listened.

Armed with the poet’s journal, Malina became a guardian of forgotten tales, a bridge between the realms of the living and the departed. Her storytelling became a tribute to the poet’s legacy, carrying his verses like delicate petals on the wind.

Her newfound purpose, fueled by the poet’s words, brought a sense of closure and fulfillment to her own journey. Malina had not only conquered her fear of darkness but also discovered a treasure more valuable than any material wealth—the power of storytelling and the enduring connection between souls across time.

Malina’s tale echoed through the generations, intertwining her name with that of the poet, forever enshrined in the annals of Cambodia’s folklore. The hidden compartment, once shrouded in neglect, had revealed a literary treasure that transformed Malina into a luminary, a custodian of stories, and a testament to the transformative power of unearthing forgotten truths.

Malina’s legacy transcended her role as a gravedigger. Her story, like the ancient banyan tree rooted in the village square, stood as a testament to the enduring power of family, compassion, and the courage to confront the shadows that lurk within.
Connect with Penmancy:



Penmancy gets a small share of every purchase you make through these links, and every little helps us continue bringing you the reads you love!

Sharda Mishra
Latest posts by Sharda Mishra (see all)

One thought on “Unearthing the Forgotten

  1. The concept is very profound and explored in such an interesting way; a gravedigger as a storyteller truly shows how big a part of our lives and legacy stories are. The atmosphere building here is so good, I can nearly feel the fear and the creepy darkness. The use of metaphors and similies made the description of both characters and the setting very vibrant. Stories about stories are always great to read!

Let us know what you think about this story.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

© Penmancy 2018 All rights reserved.
%d bloggers like this: