A short story by Agnelo Pires…
IT’S futile to brood over one’s troubles. The gorgeous sun of bliss never, never rose in my heart. The buds of promise didn’t flower. Today everything looks empty. Why to buoy up extinguished hopes when the future looks so swarthy?”
With these words she broke up as a curtain of salty tears drew over the brown tinted pupils of her starry eyes. Then she again spoke under her breath, “The genial chirping of the birds has faded into nothingness. Even the bracing wind that once zoomed to its full measure have lost all its fragrance. What was once all rosy in the garden of my life has suddenly withered away. I had pinned all my hopes on you Alfred, now, whom shall I blame?”
No sooner did she cease her lugubrious song than a flood of tears rolled down her cheeks. Something has been chocking her. There have been no one here from whom she could stifle her tears. And she knew there would be no one in this world on whose shoulder she could lay her heavy head and seek solace. She harbored no regrets losing all the finest people in her life as winning only one person was everything . And he was Alfred, her love’s young dream.
But today this place was wearing an unusual attire. Lonely as a broken winged bird.
Time stands witness to the much hyped belief that it is love that can do anything that’s never been done. And it is love that can win anything that’s never been won. There was a time when she might have been patiently listening to such an immortal philosophy. But today there was no room in her heart where she could have stored such treasures of love. We can just imagine the fairy tales but can’t quench the thirst of our eyes, which long to see the truths of this world. To say one thing and translate it into action has as much a difference as the sky and the earth.
Her flaming cheeks always wore some sort of splendor, at least until now. But today she had had not even a ghost of a smile on her face. She wore the livery of grief. She looked sullen. And so am I. Downcast. In my own melancholy world, ghastly waves nevertheless lap the shore. This garish shore, which still looks like a long chain of white pearls around the neck of a mighty ocean. Hadn’t Alfred’s cruel deeds pricked her heart, she would have praised this shore to the skies even today as she did on all her previous countless visits.
‘Both’ of them have been visiting this shore frequently, hand in hand, heart in heart. And today it was quite staggering to see her come solitary on this shore, in slow motion and in heavy steps.
I did not forget ‘that’ day as I undress my memory-lotus. I vividly remember her last visit which summed up the brighter and the darker side of the coin of her life. The setting sun has been shining like a golden disc as it exuded rays of exultation. The whole panorama looked stunning to me and to them, like a colorful landscape painted by a professional artist. And as usual the two ‘doves’ came to this shore and sat cheek by jowl, on the sands.
“Alfred, it would be difficult for me to live here without you. I have broken my family ties because of you. And so also the norms and rules that are laid down by our society. Unlike the Western world, a live-in relationship is like a forbidden fruit in our village and in our society. Now since everyone knows about our love and our relationship for over a couple of years, I beg you not to leave me high and dry and not to forget me once you take up a job in the gulf. You are my only beacon of hope, Alfred”, she spoke her mind as she beheld into his eyes with bated breath.
“Well, Diana, you have got to wait for a few months. I shall try my best to send you the visa from Kuwait as soon as possible. Soon we will be together once again and our joy will know no bounds.” His words stirred a nest of hornets in her heart. “That sunny day is not far away when I will lead you to the altar, I promise you Dianam,” Alfred assured her. A dream was painted in technicolor and a promise was written in stone.
With a promise to marry her soon, Alfred left for Kuwait. With every passing day that seemed as dark as a dungeon, a feeling of uneasiness began enveloping her as Diana was waiting for the visa with an endless hope. Days and months passed but the visa failed to shine like a diamond of glee. It never came. What came was only a boisterous blizzard in her life. Alfred had been distancing himself from her.
Soon there were no calls, no messages and no contact. Diana was caught between the devil and the deep sea looking at the events that were unfolding before her eyes. She was running out of money and it seemed to her she was running out of luck as well. And suddenly the news that Alfred had married his employer’s daughter broke her heart. The news had spread like a wildfire and had become the talk of the town where she lived. It gave her a nasty jar. She could sense the fingers of shame pointed at her by everyone. For Diana’s family, the honor of the family gained an upper hand rather than Diana’s life itself. Her plight threw her on the thorns of a dilemma. A knotty question stormed her mind. Is there a way forward or is it to live or to die? Beyond a shadow of doubt there was no hope to live, which is what she must have thought.
Alfred had extinguished the lamp of Diana’s future. The tribulations, the sorrows, the frustrations, the deceit, and the loneliness had been more than her flesh and blood could stand. A line of disgrace was drawn for her in the sand. There seemed only one thing to look forward to and that was the ‘waiting death’. And here on these very shores, the deathless death waited with its jaws open to swallow her.
A stupendous train of fading sardonic memories flashed before her eyes. Those days of togetherness were no more alive. There was no hand in this world to lit the candle of comfort and sympathy in her heart. I realized today she came to this shore never to come again. She moaned, she wept never to moan or to weep again.
With eyes suffused with tears she bewailed, “O God, forgive me, bless my soul and bless Alfred…too.” I could hear the siren song of her soul. She knew that the waters of the Arabian sea have been waiting for her. Poor me! I could do nothing, absolutely nothing. Her tears, her death melted my heart away although I am one of the waves of the Arabian sea.
(The writer is a Konkani writer and a Goa State Youth Awardee)