Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Letters to love

She sat under the tree on the hill, took out the notebook and began to write. Another letter to him, about life since the last letter. Her hand flew over the paper, struggling to keep pace with her thoughts. She paused once, wondering whether he would really be interested in reading about the shade of yellow that she had painted her bedroom walls in, or the new herbs that she had planted in the kitchen window of her tiny cottage. No, he would want to know, the voice in her head assured.

She looked down at the small valley below the hill, taking in the small, colouful roofs and the winding roads. Tiny figures walked about, going to school or work, engaged in their lives completely unaware of her observant eye. We must look like that to God, she suddenly thought. Pleased with the thought, she proceeded to pen it down.

She wondered what he was doing right at that moment. He must be in his office, with his back to the huge window, shouting at some nameless minion who had displeased him. She remembered how, at the beginning, she had never heard him raise his voice. The beginning was a wonderful place. It was where they had explored these mountains together after meeting on a hiking trail by chance. It was where they had been enchanted by wildflowers, the crisp, fresh air, and each other. The idyll was perhaps even more beautiful in her memory now. She remembered his glib talent for weaving dreams, dreams of a future with a grand house by the sea, a life where there were no empty moments. It had seemed something worth leaving behind the peace of the mountains for. After all, he had already taken her heart with him to the city.

She had tried. At the job which killed a bit of her spirit every day. At making the small, airless house that they shared a home. At being alive, even a little bit. At first he hadn't noticed her struggling. He was always busy, his eyes and heart full of the city, its noises and rhythms. The crowds, the jostling, the daily struggle for survival only energized him. Unable to return his enthusiasm, she retreated into silence. The one-sided fights and remonstrations started, and became a matter of course. He could not understand her, her unhappiness with his growing success. He didn't remember the last time she had smiled. He was sure her malady could be diagnosed and cured. His inability to do so led to another round of guilt-fuelled fights.He was becoming someone else, someone she couldn't love.

So she came back to the mountains. To where she could breathe again. Where a house could be small but still filled with sweet sunshine. Where people didn't jostle because there was nowhere to rush off to. She had feared being lonely at first, which is why she started writing to him. She realized it was easier to talk to him, to love him this way. Where he was just a memory, full of youth and hope.

She finished her letter, put it in an envelope and sealed it. She got up and removed the rock in front of the small hole in the mountain's face where the other letters were kept. A lot of letters, with all the love in her heart over the last decade. After placing the newest letter there, she sealed it again with the rock before going home.

The mountains would keep her secrets, and her heart.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

His True Story

He stirs slowly in his sleep, his body fully relaxed and entwined with hers. With the foggy vision of dream-filled eyes, he looks at her for a long time. The love of his life, lying asleep in his arms. It doesn't get much better than that.

He remembers the day he had first laid eyes on her. He had instantly recognized the soft vulnerability behind her mask of disdain. She had seemed cowed, afraid of the world. Her pride kept her back stiff, but he sensed the hurt that lay beneath. In this world that worshipped fair skin, her dark, glowing beauty had made her a target of scorn. The eyes betrayed the bewilderment that had hardened into anger; they spoke of the heart that somehow still held on to its softness.

She had been ill then, he recalled. Everyday she would have to undergo a ritual of cleaning and meditation that left her none too pleased. She knew that he watched her while all this went on; perhaps his gaze made her indignity worse. Whatever the reason, for a long time she had responded to his frank, open gaze with nothing but disinterest tinged with a faint whiff of hostility.

He cannot pinpoint the moment when he had tumbled headlong into love with her. It wasn't important anyway. He knew that she was the one he was destined for. He did not question these things anymore. He knew she was far from perfect. She would never be bound by notions like fidelity because she hadn't journeyed enough to realize that sharing bodies was also a form of worship. She would never be a good mother for their offspring: she was too wound up in her own fears, and wasn't fear another form of vanity? He  realized all her flaws, but they were just a part of the pattern that made her. He remembered, very dimly, once thinking that only perfection deserved love. He recalled, too, that perhaps, many lifetimes ago he had sacrificed love because the object of his affection had not proved worthy of the pedestal he had placed her on. Many lifetimes hence had cured him of these foolish human notions. He now knows that true love has no cause simply because it isn't an effect. He watches people around him still struggling with these notions. Most of them already know in their hearts whether they love or not. But in a world that prizes cleverness over honesty, most of them have forgotten how to listen to their hearts. Thank God, he shudders, thankfully at this stage of evolution he has left these things far behind.

He now remembers with amusement the slow, almost imperceptible thaw in her eyes over time, as she plucked up the courage to return his gaze. By then he had been sure of his feelings for her for a long time, but he knew she was still too timid, too fearful to reach out to him. And he wasn't about to wait another lifetime. So one day, when her attendants had left the door open in the midst of her daily healing ritual, he calmly walked up to her, gazed briefly into her startled, beautiful eyes, and started licking her thoroughly. He cleaned her gently, washing out the sickness, the sadness and the pain. He infused her skin, her being with his deep, unchanging love. Once she was clean, he pulled her to himself and settled her into his embrace. They fell asleep together, the first time in many times to come. When he awoke to see the light in her eyes, he knew that they had found their happily ever after.

She's still sleeping. Their children are curled up nearby. He licks his paws clean, breathes in a sigh of complete contentment, and goes back to sleep.

Note: Thanks to Elbee for the inspiring plot, and for the real-life protagonists, D and K.