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A River

A River

Artwork by Ukrainian artist Karina Syrotiuk

It was between dawn and dusk. We were lying somewhere in the forest. The grass bristling our bodies. The wind touched our faces and away. The warm touch of one another’s hands. The water of the river going along in a slow manner. The rustling of the dead branches. The bark of a dog from a distant place. She had a yellow beanie on that hid all her hair except a strand that was visible to the eye. Her eyes closed. Water drops coming from her eye and meeting the last drop becoming a small river. I cleaned each river as it came. But it kept coming. The other side was untouched as it could not be seen by me. It had become a pure river. A river of pain and hurt. A river of lament.

I did not utter a word as I did not have any to utter. If I had asked why are you crying? I would deceive myself by putting on a blinder. If I had said don’t cry I would have taken away her freedom of letting her river become alive. If I had said don’t worry it is going to be fine I would have lied for I don’t know if it will be fine. I chose to say nothing. The sky was a blank canvas. Only two stars could be seen. One bigger than the other. I took a break from cleaning her river. She put her second hand on my hand too. She started caressing it. The touch was gentle. Gentle like the beginning. Gentle like the first touch of a newborn. It was lost by both of us somewhere along the way.

Now there were tender bruises on our tender bodies. Velvet touch with a coarse intention. It was a silent roar. Cunning smiles for our innocent mouths. Icey looks from our soft eyes. A river of hurt from a river of flow. It was the edge of a cliff. We were the architects but our hands were too rough for the soft mud. I closed my eyes. She asked what I was thinking of. I opened my eyes and looked to the left. Another drop of water came down from her right eye to join the rest of the waters. What was I thinking of. To be frank, not too much. I was terrified of how little I was pondering. I said nothing and went back to the two stars again. The two stars were looking at us too. They were luminous but far from each other. Much like us.

I looked at her again. Eyes dry now. I asked her a question I had been pondering on. The only thing I pondered on lately. I asked why isn’t love enough? She opened her eyes but did not answer for some time. She saw it coming too. She looked unfazed as if this question was a natural one. One that had to be asked. That was the tragedy of it all. Perhaps she was giving it a thought. She could say anything and it wouldn’t have changed anything. Yet, she waited deliberately as if a response might make the stars closer. After a pause, all silent except for the yearning of nature, she said, maybe it’s never love, but something else under the facade of love. Maybe a longing for love but it’s not love itself. Maybe it’s the lament for all the lost love in our lives. Or our constant nature of rejecting love. Maybe love feels familiar, that’s why we call it love.  Or maybe love is enough but we become greedy. Or maybe we keep on sabotaging it because love feels foreign. But maybe… maybe it’s anything but love. She spoke quietly, almost in a whisper. Almost as if she is talking to herself. As if she had asked herself this question and now she was answering it. I said nothing.

We got up to leave after some time. I knew I might say goodbye to her or may not tonight. A lover she was. An other she was. A center she was. A mirror. A wonderful yet a tragic thing. But I also learned that I had become numb. Numb to the dreadful nature of the word love. We may forget this occurrence tomorrow. She may go on putting on an act. I may go on putting on an act. For it is easier to pretend than to face the distance between the two stars. It’s never easy to say goodbye. Perhaps that’s why we kept going. Perhaps both of us knew what both of us had lost. Maybe that’s why we tried to love each other. But we didn’t know what love was.


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