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Prologue: The River

By the River she sits and lets the cold, ice water wash away her every sorrow of the magnified world in the form of tears; they are tiny silver droplets which catch their pleasing light from the sun; they change colours as quickly as a chameleon does: the tears ease their way slowly down her pale white cheeks, untouched by the taint of mortal men, unkissed by the heavenly god Phoebus; she is a sad one who bemoans her sadness and no one understands the confounding grief she ventures into, the torment and terror she does not speak of. The colours change- first with purple flints; now pink, now blue, now orange. A wondrous sight. It is like magic when you come to think of it. The sunlight is filtered through the little cracks in the lush green canopy of the overpowering trees. Why overpowering? Maybe because they seem so much bigger than a mere human sometimes. Maybe they have been on the earth longer than humans have, like the bristlecone pine called Methuselah in California. I think it is the oldest living thing in the world; it is almost 5000 years old. Amazing.                  

It is a hot afternoon, but there is no heat or warmth in her soul. Insects are buzzing around and a locust sits on a leaf and watches its surroundings fade into oblivion. It is a hot afternoon but there is no heat or warmth in her soul. It is cold, like ice; like the fleecy white clouds in the deep blue azure skies above. If you reach up your hand to touch those clouds, they will cling to your fingers like pieces of silver metal. And no matter how hard you shake, even if you try to wash them off under running water, if you try to scrape them off with a little garden spade that your little puppy had run off with before, it does not come off. It is like Super-Glue and it sticks to your fingers. It will freeze your hands and other parts of your anatomy which it chooses to freeze. It is cold. How ironic. The weather is hot and wanton.                  

There is a breeze; it is the gentle kind of breeze that all romantics and poets and such speak of; the kind that passes by you with Zephyr floating on its wings and breathe delight into your senses; the kind that playfully clutches at a lady’s hat ringed with a pretty posy of fennels and columbines and other flowers we may not even begin to name; it is a lovely, cool breeze in hot weather which yearns to soften the age and plights of the heart. Breezes make us younger sometimes because we dream. And when we dream, we close our eyes and imagine. Imagine things we’ve never imagined before. But sometimes we overlook this simple gesture. In our anguish and despair, we overlook many things. Yes, we do! Sometimes we forget, too. We forget to lift the toilet seats after we use, we forget to cancel the newspapers when we go on vacation, we forget it’s almost dinner-time when we’re out having a jolly good time, we forget it’s time to go home and sleep when we’re at the bar, having Bailey’s and Jack Daniels and getting pissed drunk. She overlooks this gentle breeze.                  

There was a legend once that everything which fell into the River would be carried along on the waves on timelessness by a strange mystical creature, a lovely nymph they named Monty. How the name came about, nobody knows, but it is only a name. She would sift through everything that fell and if she liked something which fell, she’d keep it for herself and grant the person who dropped it in, deliberately or not, a little wish. But it is a different kind of wish; it is not of the material sort. You must therefore wish for things inanimate, in the sense that they must be intangible. Simple enough. Of course, this is a myth. But people sometimes choose to believe in myths rather than reality.                  

Hence, she weeps into the river and hopes that her tears will be treasures to Monty. It is precious tears, and why, you shall see.                  

Cool and clear is her mind. Cool and clear is her heart. She knows what she wants, and she cups her palms, leaning over the river bank; the long green grass tickles her face and grazes her soft cheeks, one long blade strays into the shell of her right ear; it tickles. She scoops up the water and splashes it over her face with one fleeting movement; her eyes are closed, her lashes are touched; it drains her of her sorrow; it gives her new life and refreshes her soul, bringing a placid smile to her red, red lips. Her lips are red, not from lipstick, but from the blood that flows within. She drinks deep and the water trickles down those red lips. Her drinking is significant because she not only drinks the water, but also drinks in the life-force of what is dearest to her, and all other energies which are channelled into the long, flowing River. Drinking sustains life.                  

It is a River which stretches for miles, nobody knows exactly how far it stretches. She believes maybe for a hundred miles, but who really knows? I think the surveyors have omitted to measure this River, because it need not be placed on a map, no travellers will follow or plot their course with reference to it; this place is in the epicentre of isolation, as it is; it is an insignificant River of no commercial value, no money-making ventures. So why the hell should the surveyors measure it? So they didn’t.                    

This River is made up of a lot of tears. From different people. Different types of tears. But all of them salt tears, of course. People who cry come here and cry into the River so they won’t flood their own homes with tears. People who lose their loved ones cry and come here to cry so that they can suffer in silence and not let the world mock on them in their grievances and pain. People who seek to renew their life, make compellable changes in their souls cry and come here to cry into this discovery of meanings. It is a meaning not many may understand. Sometimes only the preternatural will. But she is not preternatural. She is human, flesh and blood, three-fourths water, one-thirteenth blood of her weight. Maybe she is preternatural, after all. If she is here, she must be.                  

She throws into the River a handful of leaves she has plucked from a tree in her home. They are bay laurel leaves and they twist as they fall into the River and the water sweeps them away fiercely, drowning them; you can almost imagine that if they were human, they’d be spluttering for breath, for oxygen. Of course leaves are alive, but not in the same sense as human beings. Of course not. And they do use oxygen, for photosynthesis; which, I guess, may be quite like humans since humans need oxygen to survive and if they didn’t have oxygen to survive on, they wouldn’t have the energy to photosynthesise, no? Of course, not photosynthesise in the same way as plants, but we all understand the technicalities that come along.                  

Anyway, they are bay laurel leaves and the water bears them along on its surface. She watches as they disappear in the distance and fade to nothingness. Which actually goes to show you how short life can be and that frail wisp you hang onto can be whipped off at once. Like one story about the Devil and his god-son. The Devil has a room full of candles, some are tall, some are short, some are already extinguished. His god-son did something which pretty much angered him, but the Devil had something in store for him. He showed the boy the candle of his life- it was a mere slow-burn away from death. Once the candle was extinguished, the boy would die. So the kid begged his old godfather for mercy and asked him to light another candle on top of it so that it could go on burning. Nobody knows if the Devil did this on purpose but I’d like to think he did; He is, after all, the bad guy; in holding the new long candle, in slowly lighting it, he brushed against the little one and it extinguished immediately. The boy died. Now see what I mean. I’m quite sure he did it on purpose.                  

Coming back to where the girl was, after throwing the leaves into the water, she whispers, “Monty, bring to me my heart’s desire.” It is expected that since Monty is a water-nymph, there is no need to elaborate on `heart’s desire’ because she would undoubtedly possess magical powers and hence, will know what subjective meaning the girl held.                  

It was once believed, if you read the Witches’ Almanac, that if you crumbled dried bay laurel leaves into a charcoal fire and chanted “Laurel leaves burn in the fire, bring to me my heart’s desire” three times in the pit-dead of night when no one in the world is awake but you, cleansing your mind and thoughts of all impurities and imperfections, the one you loved would be yours for life. You must also conjure up a picture of that loved one in your mind and make sure it is fixed, or the spell will not work. The girl, in throwing the leaves, does not do this, of course, but this is good enough for her. Sometimes you must deviate from the original path and seek other avenues. It is the way life is supposed to be led. What good would it do to keep yourself confined and not break away to discover new things you may wish to, and twenty years down the road, when you find yourself old and broken-down, living in a lousy, dusty station wagon with a nagging wife or alcoholic husband and three rowdy kids, you will say to yourself, “Why didn’t I do this? Why didn’t I do that?” And that means you’re regretting.                  

Regret is bad. The only people who regret are people who cannot find happiness in themselves. The girl regrets. What of, I will not say, you will see this for yourself in a little while. Regret is not good. It makes you weep and wail, it makes you think of things you should have done but didn’t, or perhaps of things that ought to have been done in a certain way but wasn’t. People regret all the time; they are not happy and content with the way their lives are going. Maybe they can change so that they won’t regret anymore. But then again, without regret, we’d never know whether we did anything right or wrong. The world would be too perfect if people never made any mistakes. What kind of world would that be? Utterly boring, I should imagine.                  

Now we will let the tale begin. The girl who sits by the banks of this River and lets her tears flow in them…..I think hers is a fitting tale to tell, and I think Monty should be kind enough to grant her her “heart’s desire”, whatever it may be. I think this girl’s tale will be that of love; maybe a love she has found and then lost, who really knows?                  

Yes, this will be a tale of love. Of simple love. Of the simple joys and miseries which we all take for granted. Look at her, she is weeping and her long, dark hair falls over her face. She looks almost like an angel. A pity she doesn’t have wings. She could have feathered wings, or maybe wings of a butterfly, shiny and gauzy if she is allergic to feathers. I know some people who are allergic to hens and birds. A sad thing, really, because they are quite lovely creatures.                  

You may say all love stories are the same. But none of them are, not even those tacky, B-grade movies with the predictable plots and endings. No two love stories are the same, because people are not the same. People in love are not the same. The differences must be distinguished. So, this is not just one of those same love stories. No, this is not a love story; this is a story of Love. You can decipher it in any way you want to.                  

Remember- this is not a love story; this is a story of Love. 

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