The River that Died
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“What is love to you?”

“Like a wild mountain river, emanating from a lifeless, cold, white glacier and making its way through the rough surface of a dense, steep, and arcane summit towards the plain of a green dale where it gains a melodious rhythm but loses its wilderness. It continues to flow in a drab, lifeless manner until it dies somewhere into a vast sea.”

“Isn’t it what they say that the river finally meets her eternal love when she merges with the sea?”

“Did she ever say that the sea is her only love? Maybe she wanted to melt into another river in between. But she was forced to change her way.”

“Complicated,” Tessa concludes, looking at the golden liquor in the crystal glass inside her grip, “Do you need another drink?”

“Nope! I’m okay. I’ll have one by myself,” I reply to a concerned Tessa, who has been watching me with squinted eyes throughout the morning.

Tessa has been sticking around both of us since childhood. She has been our playmate, neighbor, and college mate. It has been 27 years. And we have been inseparable. Until today.

“Don’t be hard on yourself and just quit it if you want.” she gulps down the rest of the liquor in one shot and puts the glass on the table with a little force, “I’m going inside. She may need my help.” she heads in without waiting for a reply.

I throw my legs sideways to break the stiffness from standing for so long. Marriage jitters may happen to anybody who is getting married and to anyone who is just witnessing. Like me, I haven’t been able to let my eyelids kiss each other since the day it was decided that the marriage was going to happen, and no matter what, we have to let each other go and maybe remember ourselves as the only enigmatic and magical time of our lives, which let us think that we are alive, even though it was just for a blink of an eye.

Marriage and my name are something that shouldn’t be pronounced together in one sentence. We are mortal enemies. We are sworn opponent fighters on the battlefield. All I want now is for this festive vibe surrounding the most unwanted marriage of my life to be over. I want all of this to be over as soon as possible, and maybe then I will confine myself behind closed doors and under the pristine white bedsheet on my bed, succumbing to my world of suffering.

The decoration was completed a while ago. I have been watching all of it with the expensive Bordeaux in my hand, standing at the end of the dinner tents while resting my back on the edge of a table. My favorite wine tastes bland inside my mouth today. The environment around me screams happiness and radiance, which I don’t want to be a part of. But some invisible force has tied my feet to the ground today, and someone inside my mind is continuously asking me to stay put, to see it through to the end. So, here I am, laughing at my fate and rethinking the decisions that I made that led everything to this day.

The sideways of the aisle is decorated with white wooden benches and stems of Calla Lilies put inside hanging glass vases marking the end of each bench. White and violet wisteria are hanging all over the marriage ground, giving the place a dreamy touch, and the way towards the altar is covered with petals of white roses. I feel nauseated as the smells hunt down and strike my olfactory lobe altogether. I realize something disturbing. I have never hated flowers so much in my life. I have never wanted to ruin the soft petals that wave their heads under the rays of the sun, while their happiness flutters all around them with so much vigor. I need a pair of scissors in my hand, and all I’d do is chop those petals from their stems mercilessly until they become a pile of hopeless dreams like me.

All the noises around me stop the moment I see her coming out of the white door and stepping towards the aisle with a lowered face. Clad in a white sequined wedding gown, a white veil covering her face, and a bouquet of violet orchids tied with white laces in her beautiful hands, the love of my life makes her way toward the man standing at the end of the aisle with the biggest smile on his face. The luckiest man on earth today.

The vows, the exchange of rings, the forceful kisses exchanged between the newly married couple, and the congratulating crowd around me stab my heart into millions of holes as I try hardest to put imaginary cotton on those wounds to stop the bleeding. Uncontrollable tears make their way down my cheek from the now hopeless eyes that once dreamed of a future with her.

A future that included white, crumpled bedsheets covering her flawless, ethereal naked skin under a mellow morning sun, when I would have continued to look at her face, thinking about what I did to deserve her love.

It included her dense and deep-set brown eyes falling upon my face when I would have continued to play with her locks falling in the softest curls, covering her slender shoulders.

It included morning quarrels with her when she would have complained about the pancakes being too sweet, and I would have hugged her from behind while apologizing that I should have stayed in bed and let her make breakfast.

It included a beach somewhere in this world where we both would have sat together on the warm sand under twinkling stars painted on a vast blue canvas, a limitless blue horizon meeting with the white waves of the sea, with cheap local beers in our hands, debating over whether eggs come first or chicken. Her head on my shoulder would have fallen after a while, when she would have continued to mumble, “Egg… no chicken… no… egg..” being drunk. And I would have smiled at her too pretty and pouted lips smeared with drool while finally surrendering to my desire not to kiss her.

It included me and Athena, my Ena. My life, whom I had worshipped since she appeared like a rumble of thunder and kicked the asses of the local bullies in our community playground, and when the too-shy me continued to look at that angel with wide eyes and bleeding lips. Since she extended her small, pink hands towards me and asked me to be friends with her. We fought over the corner of our hidden playhouse at my father’s garage, and she won as I put my hands down and sacrificed my favorite corner to her. Her laughter, her silly jokes, her kisses, and her hugs flooded my entire childhood, school days, and college life. I was falling deeply in love with her. And so was she until our daydream broke.

“Victoria…” my trance breaks with that magical voice, and I see her standing in front of me with that bouquet in her hands. “Vic… I got married. I got married to a man. Are you happy now?” her tears break the barrier that she has been holding onto since the day I firmly rejected her, denying my feelings.

We vowed to stay with each other until one day I understood that she needed someone who could protect her. She needs someone who can embrace her in his arms and say“I will protect you from all the evil things in this world.” I realized that she needs a man instead of a woman, the day I got beaten up in a bar while trying to protect her from the lecherous touches of the drunken bastards lurking around.

“Vic, we’ll stay friends. Right? You won’t run away?” she comes and hugs me.

“I won’t Ena…” I mumble incoherently while sniffing the intoxicating, lavender smell coming from her neck. “I can never leave you.” Lies.

“Vic. Take me away. I don’t want to be with him. He…I don’t want to be with a man Vic. I can never love him.” she rubs her runny nose on my shoulder.

“We will sneak out. Our hidden playhouse,” I smile at her beautiful, brown eyes while winking mischievously, “We are both girls. He won’t know a thing… right?”

We laugh at each other’s jokes. We both know the meaning of it. Honey-coated lies. She knows I will not see her waking up in someone else’s arms. I’m not going to stick around to see her with a man instead of me.

A river doesn’t necessarily always love the sea. Nobody knows that she craves to merge into another river flowing quietly by her side. Nobody knows that she loved a river but died unknowingly after falling into the depths of the sea.

Not every love story meets a happy ending. Some love stories have two women or two men searching for their way out of the fixed social norms made by people that, “A river meets her love in a sea. Not a river.”

I look at her face for the last time. The bouquet hangs low from her hand, while some dried flowers fall on the ground. Her face was smeared with tears, and her eyes were desperate, anticipating an upcoming devastating ending. I turn around and walk out of the place, leaving her behind, to let her flow towards the sea. I walk out like a river that has lost its way.

Another river that died an uncertain death.

-Sanhita, a pluviophile, blogger, reader, writer, and equalist. She is an out-of-age, old-school, hopeless romantic in this modern world, searching for a home to return to, that she calls “hiraeth”.

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