it was a couple of minutes to sunrise; a dawn so picturesque it out-rightly demands a poet’s attention. What an unusual day, thinks the poet who incidentally, happened to be at the shore that day. We’ll call her V. which is short for Vea, which happens to rhyme with Sea, which is why she was named so; because it was rumored she was the daughter of a coral nymph and a mortal female, which the God’s claimed, was the most breathtaking union the universe was ever to witness.
What an unusual, unusual day. The wind was so cold it pricked, yet the water was so comfortingly warm as though someone who had driven a long, long way to get here, were to take a warm, welcoming bath in it. It must neither be too cold, nor too hot – just the right amount of softness to make it feel like home. It is imperative this feels like home.
V. sprawled out on the shore, unbeknownst to what this day (which wasn’t yet a day, merely a germinating duplication of it) was to bring, with a group of people she loosely termed ‘friends’ for the mere sake of it; who were only vagabonding strangers a couple of minutes ago and came to V. of all things, as unprecedented gifts of a divine morning. One of these ‘friends’ (I can’t settle for an unquoted friends, for how incessantly this term is tossed about and therefore has lost all its meaning) casually strummed a ukulele, to the pace of the rising sun, as though this moment was divinely engineered (which honestly it was. why else would the diabolic sea be so unprecedentedly welcoming?); which is precisely when J. enters.
I would tell you her name, as I told you V.’s but God forgive me, its too pious a word. Believe you me, the sun rose as though only for her; the water chastened as though her spirit, all so powerful, silenced them; the winds flew in towards her as though to clasp her, for only the touch of her skin, that was so old and ancient, yet breathtakingly divine, could convince them of the existence of something so ethereal. J.’s hair was stunningly white as a proof of the years she’d spent on such menial soil. Why must she be here, in this catacomb of inferior beings? She is definitely god-like, think the envious wind nymphs.
J. looks at V. of all people. Their eyes find each other so effortlessly, as though they were long-lost childhood ‘friends’ (lets settle for an ‘allegiance’ which demands far greater loyalty than love or friendship, which, I’ve noticed, is all we ask for from a friend or lover, which in essence, are one and the same thing – love and friendship). No uneasiness, no awkwardness, in this eternal stare. Not nearly like a crossfire – merely a sweet exchange of softness and eternal bliss. J. walks towards her.
V. offers her a drink, ‘here
‘Do you always drink?
‘Don’t complain. Isn’t today absolutely unusual?’
J. sips on the bottle, ‘Come, lets take a swim’, she holds out her hand.
V. softly strokes J.’s fingers, ‘Must we?
‘Come, it’s been a long, long time’
They walk to the sea. J. undresses to her bares. V. smiles, can you believe this is how all of us truly are – bare, raw, trying to cure ourselves of this mortal affliction?, she contemplates.
‘What does this feel like to you?’, V. asks.
‘Home. Which, for the last 1000 cursed years, is the only place I wanted to be in.
V. sighs. Thank God she’s not shallow
‘Is thousand years not hard to believe?
‘I presume you were waiting for something. Possibly, this moment. Therefore no, even a thousand more would sound reasonable. Don’t you know what love makes us do?
‘What does this say about you and me?
‘Nothing more than how we (by which I don’t mean us in particular, but truly all of humanity) were originally destined to live. It is imperative we love, which is also to say that it is imperative we ally. For to call it love, would undermine the colossal quantum of energy that the human heart is. To ally is a law, that most of us have learned to bypass. But God knows, it is the closest we’d reached to piety. Was I always so philosophical?
J. laughs comically, so you know we’ve met?
‘If not, were you to love me so?
‘were I to love you so?
‘Do you know what they say about me?
‘Do you know what they say about you?, J. follows almost instantaneously.
‘Do you believe it?
‘V., I’ve lived for a thousand years. There are not many things I can’t believe. Would you believe me if I told you I was present, at the colossal congregation on your birth. Your mothers–
‘How old were you?
‘I was 23.
‘Have you dyed you hair?
‘Listen to me, V. almost pleads, to an invisible force that has flooded her conscience with heavenly torment and nostalgia, that love most inherently tends to bring, ‘what does this say about my death?
‘Nothing more than how you (by which I don’t mean you in particular, but truly all of humanity) were originally destined to live. It is imperative you die, which is also to say, to die is a law, which you choose every time, despite all my begging, not to bypass. Which is why I come back every 100 odd years. I’ve learnt this is my curse–
‘Can’t you tell? (almost annoyed) Don’t you know, what you like to call ‘allegiance’ also brings this-eternal torment, of all things? Let us settle. I will call it love, which is what it truly is. Which brings me back every goddamned time. God, do I wish you’d stay for once!
‘Have I always been a runner?
J. laughs hysterically as though V.’s question should have been predominantly understood and not deliberated over, as though V. had trespassed risky terrains, ignited a painful memory.
‘Many claimed the Gods were envious of how magnificent what we had was. They wagered on how long you’d stay. You know the Gods, always immoral. And so their speculation reached me, and sowed fire in my heart, which was really very tender, and burnt in this cursed heat. They pricked its soft embers to ask ‘can you make her stay?‘
I begged on my knees, fell headfirst on the cold floor, where whatever was left of my dying heart bled eternally, much like this sea that will flow till the end of time, to ask you to stay. Say, must love always ache like this? Say, did I ask for much?
‘And so they laughed at my childish foolishness – staking a claim to your vagabonding spirit, and cursed me with a thousand damned years on this mortal wreck, where everyone is so reckless with the things that matter. Have you any idea how much you mattered? A thousand years in pursuit of this, which is not merely a singular feeling, but a whole damned lifestyle the heavens had promised me with you. An eternity in Elysium, feasting on all wonderful ambrosial concoctions, and occasionally something spicy. And on golden evenings, which really seldom come, you would sing a song in your deep, husky voice, that will remind us of your mothers and the perennial sea, which is when we’ll both shed a tear and toast to their glory.
‘You would ask me then,’am I what I am because of these two women?’
and I would say,’what are you,really?’. and at this point, you would laugh, and the dying autumnal trees would sway as though to laugh along with you. For every entity in this world adored you. Every entity longed for your ‘allegiance’, which was the most pious of desires, for it was their last.
And as you laughed in this way, I would want to kiss you.
And maybe in a kinder world, I would. I would kiss you like I’d die if I didn’t.
And in this kiss,
you would find a reason to stay.
All images © 2018 Sanjukta Bhowal