By Christopher Zoukis Image courtesy www.haitixchange.com-
Death in paradise.
In a nondescript cemetery, small yet serene, there’s a grave. It was dug by a black woman named Defilee. Plunging her shovel into the moist earth, she would scoop the dirt out. But some always got by the blade of the shovel, so then she knelt, scraping and pushing the marbled dirt with her bare hands. She began to sweat, some of it trickling into her eyes, stinging them. She’d stop to wipe it away, using her wrist because of the dirt on her hands. Still, dirt got in her eyes. A vicious cycle: dig, scrape, sweat, sting, wipe, dirt in eyes – repeat.
When the hole was deep enough and wide enough and it had to be longer and wider than most to accommodate its intended inhabitant, she rolled the mutilated body into it. Then covered it with the rich, black soil piled in a mound beside the hole.
No one says so, but I suspect she performed certain arcane religious rites before burying the body. Vodou rites; perhaps she nailed a poppet and an old black leather shoe to a nearby tree, the little person (poppet) to act as a herald to the otherworld, the shoe to denote liberty and freedom since usually slaves went barefoot.
Defilee then erected a simple marker and left. Not a cross or a headstone, more likely she placed a group of white and gray stones in an oracular formation.
This is the real grave of Jean Jacques Dessalines.