There's a one-eyed yellow idol To the north of Kathmandu; There's a little marble cross below the town; And a brokenhearted woman Tends the grave of 'Mad' Carew,
While the yellow god for ever gazes down..*
She came to the grave early that day. Before the blazing Indian sun started across the brazen summer sky. She came sadly, clutching her sari around her, holding the yellow idol to her chest.
She glanced around.
She wanted to be alone. With Carew. The English soldier who had strode into her life and captured her heart, mind and soul.
No-one knew the longings of her heart when she furtively watched him those frst few times she saw him at the market.
She had busied herself with the few bolts of colorful material and copper pots and pans. Some curries. Jewellry she and her mother made at home.
Would he notice her?
Lots of soldiers visited the market. The English soldiers had little to do. Idle moments were spent enjoying the unusual vibrant sights and smells of foreign culture.
An Indian girl, she was not supposed to look at the foreign soldiers, let alone speak with them
The first day he came was no different than any other. But he was different.
He had noticed her too. The tiny, black haired Indian.
The flirtation had begun tentatively.
Smiles. A few words exchanged.
“Mad” Carew, they called him on post. The one that would do what anyone else was afraid of doing.
He once rode his horse at a full gallop at a brick wall, skidding to a breathtaking halt, a hair away from smashing himself and his horse against it.
“Just Carew again”, became a common shrug among the soldiers as they got used to his dare-devil antics and close calls with certain death.
Perhaps it was this spirit that held her captive. His smile and jaunty ways splashed like yellow sunshine on all the slate grey of her ordinary life.
She would slip off to meet him at night after the market closed, after a quick meal and chores around the simple family home were done. Sweeping finished. Water pots filled.
Mostly they went to the narrow river that meandered below the town., where the tiny cemetery for foreigners nestled near the river edge.
They would hold each in the pale yellow moonlight. Watch the deep shadows dance on rippling water. Listen to the wind whisper among the tall yellow grass.
It was a daring thing to do. She knew her father's anger if she was ever caught. But it was these moments she lived for.
The end of the day. Lying in the arms of her lover.
One day “Mad” Carew did not come to the market. Nor the next. No message to her. No meeting by the river.
Where was he? What had happened?
Yellow fever. The word spread quickly. How she longed to go to him. But she dared not. She was not one of the Indian girls who hung around the Army post.
The family god sat in her home. A one eyed yellow idol watching over the affairs of her household.
Carew had spoken briefly about his own God. But this little yellow idol was all she knew. She prayed. She burned incense to it.
Would it hear her?
“Save him. Save him”, she whispered.
“Don’t let him die.”
The yellow idol sat so still, his one green eye unblinking.
Just this one time could he help?
The medicine the Bristish sent for came too late.
Suddenly Carew was gone.
“Mad” Carew. The soldier who laughed at death. His final stand.
The yellow fever stared him down and won.
The little yellow god had neither seen nor heard.
The buried him there, the British.
In the small cemetery next to the gurgling river and tall yellow grass.
They put a marble cross above his grave.
Today she brought the yellow idol. His green, unseeing eye to watch over her Carew.
She leaned it up against the marble stone.
The one eyed yellow idol and the cross of the Christian God.
She had not prayed to Him, the Christian God.
She never knew she could.
* 1911, J. Milton Hayes, "The Green Eye of the Little Yellow God," http://en.Wiktionary.org/wiki/yellow
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