The sun was gone. The night had taken over. In the stillness of the valley, he sat on a rock by the banks of the Southern river.
She was lying on a wooden raft. Very weak and almost breathless, but still radiating beauty and elegance. For a long time, she had waited for him.
He moved closer to her. He had many questions, and they all came at once.
He opened the conversation, and she obliged.
He asked why the sound of the ocean waves were loud and yet they were still very lovely to hear.
“So I can summon you and bring you close to me whenever I want.” she said
He asked why the sands were made of earth, separate from the sea that it holds.
“So you can still walk on your own ground, pave your own path, explore my world with your own two feet, plant your garden, ride your carriage and build your castle.”
He asked why the wind floats within the air and whispers in his ears.
“To let you know I am near, and to let you feel my presence even when you are with the sun, basking in her glory…letting her kiss you and touch your skin, and make you blush… even with all that, I am quite certain my fresh breeze will give you more pleasure.”
He asked why there were clouds in the sky.
“To hide you from the sun’s glare when she has a fit and when she tries to hold on to you with her fatal grasp, the clouds are there to protect you… so you dont burn … so you can breathe.”
He asked why the tides were sometimes high and sometimes low.
“When the tides are high, they can lift you from the shore and take you to the far end of the ocean, a place that no one has seen. Some call it paradise, I call it my heart.”
He asked why there were stormy seas.
“To make you strong enough to reach me. The rough seas will always remind me how far you have gone to reach my paradise.”
He asked why there were stars in the sky.
“So they can keep your eyes off the raging sea and dazzle you like diamonds would.”
He asked why she needed to take him to paradise.
“To let you see who I really am… Only my paradise can do that.”
He asked why the moon came out only at night.
“So you will know that I am there when the world turns dark.”
He asked why the sea always had the moon’s reflection.
“The moon is my face and when my face meets my ocean, you can hold it and kiss it and I can do the same for you.”
He asked why she wanted to meet him at night.
“So you can see my true light, for true light only lights up in the darkest places. It's the light that glows... the light that never burns.”
He asked why they can only make love in the waters.
“So I can let you float and dance in it too…So you can heal and drink from me….for my waters can heal and quench your every thirst.”
He asked why dawn came after the night.
“So you will know that I still have hope. Hope in me and you….Hope in my present and future... Because you will not last in my waters. You will either drown in your own worries, or sail away in the city of vanity, or throw your waste at me. You will always need to leave me.”
He asked why it rained.
“So you will know when I long for you, and so you will know when I weep for the days that I would never see come to life again. I will let my tears cleanse the earth, so you will know that my love is pure. “
He asked why there were rainbows.
“The seven colors, they represent the seven continents. So you will be reminded that you are not only white or black. You are yellow, red… and you can be a mix of many colors of the rainbow… So you will know that I will recognize you in every color, and I will accept you in every color… So you will know that only when your colors become one will you soon understand the beauty of my soul.”
“But why only after the rain?”
“Usually people come together as one only after the rain.”
He asked why the ocean had turned into many shades of blue.
This time, her tone had changed. She looked at him with sadder eyes for over a minute before she answered.
“So that you will see my hurt and understand that it goes deep. The many shades of blue are the many sorrows I cradled, in search of you… The darker shades are the wounds I took after you sailed further away from me. When you threw your waste at me. When you poisoned me with your black wine , the wine you believed was made of gold.”
He stopped for a moment, after hearing what she had just said. In his mind, he wondered why it had all sounded so familiar to him.
But she knew history so well. She never forgot. Although she was deeply saddened by the loss of a memory, she answered every question faithfully. He must remember everything, she said to herself.
He had one last question. The most important question that led him to search for her.
He asked why the animals had left the earth, save for a few, but the few left dying as he spoke. He asked why many like him have fled to the caves, why the ground shook, why the waters enveloped the earth and turned to ice, why the greens have disappeared, and why the world was slowly getting dark.
“So you will know when it is time to search for me. True enough you had found me” she said.
He was beginning to remember now… piece by piece. He wondered why his soul did not search earlier.
“Many times I called you when I had started to weaken.” she recalled. ”When the sun pierced through my skin and burned my paradise. When I could no longer breathe from your smoke. When your black wine started to kill the fish…the birds…When you gave me the drug that you said would cure me, but instead it contaminated me. Many times. I called and every time, I was left with no answer.”
And it all dawned on him. He began to remember the day her clouds had kept him safe from the sun, how the wind blew in his direction when the scorching heat of the sun came to burn him, how he was lifted by the waves of the ocean, how he braved the rough seas, how the stars really looked liked pretty diamonds while he journeyed to her paradise…to her heart.
And he began to remember her lovely face, her light that glowed in a sea of darkness.
He remembered the dance, the touch, the kisses… he remembered her love and how it healed his ailing soul.
And he remembered too, the day he got restless and sailed away in search of the gold wine… He remembered what he did to get his hands on it… and how he didn’t have a care for her when he spilled it all over her.
He looked at her with a surge of guilt rising from his chest. At her deathbed he knew now how much she needed him. He couldn’t believe how he could possibly forget. But what’s done is done, and the past is teaching him a painful lesson.
He stood on a frozen river and lit the last candle in prayer for a dying soul. And, as if someone had whispered to his ear what to say next, he began to speak, this time with a stronger voice.
“It’s not too late. It's not the end yet.”
“I’ve given up the fight. can’t you see?” She said, with a tone of defeat.
“NO!”, he said….now with even more conviction and heart.
“Not if I can help you.” And he leaned forward to hold her.
He soon realized how much she had meant to him… he loved her, with all his heart he needed her too. He wanted nothing more but to make her feel this love, even if this was the last chance she would ever witness it.
If I can remember everything, I will not lose her. This was the only thing his mind was telling him at that moment.
Suddenly, tears emerged from her eyes. Warm tears that flowed down her brittle skin, her pale body, touching his cold feet and permeating the freezing ground he stood on. Her tears did not stop from flowing and it seemed to have melted the icy trail it touched. The candle he lit just a few minutes ago will be dying soon.
Fearing that she was now in extreme pain and that he would be losing her any moment, he lifted her and carried her in his arms, embracing the woman who always looked after him. The very reason why he was still alive... But not for long if she goes away.
She really was the world to him. She was everything to him, all he ever needed.
“Why are you crying this way? Tell me… please....”
His voice now marked with desperation.
“I’m not crying my love… ”
She said, with a faint sparkle in her eye.
“… I’m healing.”
~ o ~
More stories and Reflections
First published January 17, 2011
Photo by Renjith Krishnan