My love is like a red, red rose
May 25, 2019-
It is Friday. The date is November 10 and it’s your birthday. It is the day you revealed something that changed my life, our lives.
“You had promised to tell me an important thing about yourself on your 16th birthday, do you remember?” I remind you as we sit on the edge of the cliff overlooking the great Pacific.
A long silence ensues and a distant unnoticed hum of the sea wafts through our ears. The melody is sad and melancholic.
“I have an incurable heart disease,” you say hesitantly, “within a few years my heart will completely succumb to the wrath of this monster of a disease and I will perish from this world.” You inhale a deep, gentle breath. And I watch you, silent and broken.
A shy breeze passes by, pushing strands of your golden hair astray to your almond eyes. You imperceptibly bow your head down a little and then with an enigmatic sweep of your slender fingers you tuck them elegantly behind your left ear. My heart is shattered. You can’t afford to lose her, I hear my heart mourn.
I won’t be able to survive without her, I say to myself. She is such a masterpiece! I have to find a way, there must be a way. I must save her. But I don’t know how.
“What are you thinking about, Carl?” you ask, reading my mind. You smile and there my heart breaks. I don’t reply. You lean towards me and hold my hand, pressing them gently, you whisper, “I love you so much.”
I still can’t speak. There are no words that can convey the sheer intensity of my pain.
I fall prey to an uncomfortable and noisy silence.
It sounds strange, doesn’t it? But sometimes silence is not silent enough and it can no longer offer you the solace you crave for, and you have to seek comfort in noise because sometimes it can be soothing. And when you utter those miraculous words “I love you so much” I get overwhelmed by an incomprehensible desire to shout, to roar like a wounded lion, and tear the thin canvas of silence to let the flood of noise pour into the moment.
“Do you know why this part of the cliff is known as the lover’s cliff?” you attempt to break the silence.
“Maybe because this place is very romantic,” I venture a quick reply, still craving for that thundering noise which would quell the inferno in me.
“There is a wonderful legend about it. My mamma told me when I was a kid,” you say with a childish twinkle in your eyes which sets me adrift on the clouds of imagination and I visualise you as a little girl. I can see you in a white fluffy frock running, almost flying from one place to another. There is a red rose twined reluctantly in your hair. And in your delicate nose, there is a small nose-ring. You are the perfect fairy.
“Long, long ago there lived two star-crossed lovers,” you continue, pulling me back to
reality. “The girl was a princess, and she was so beautiful that princes from all over the world undertook perilous journeys to ask for her hand. And the boy was an orphan who lived on this cliff, alone, in a little hut. Their love for each other was beyond this world. Every evening she came here to meet him and they watched the sunset together. Sometimes she spent the night with him, gazing at the stars. And one day she got pregnant.”
“What happened next? Did they get married?” I ask curiously.
“The news of her pregnancy spread through the kingdom like wildfire,” you continue. “Several stories were knitted to infuriate the king. Finally, the king learnt about her lover and sent his people to chop his head off. When they reached the cliff, the princess was with the boy. The king came and he tore his daughter away from him and got him
slaughtered and thrown into the Pacific. The princess wept and wept for her lover. After a week—unable to bear the pain—she jumped into the Pacific from this cliff to reunite with her lover. Mamma told me that every evening their spirits come to watch the sunset, and that true lovers can hear them sing.”
“Do you think the legend is true?” I ask.
“I don’t know,” you answer honestly, “and I don’t care whether the legend is real or not. What really matters to me is that the story makes me feel good. They say true lovers who die here get to befriend them. I want to be with them. I no longer fear death; I just fear the woe of parting from you.”
Two years later we get married.
On our first night, I hold you in my arms and dance to our favourite song. It is the most beautiful night of my life. “You mean everything to me, Mackie,” I whisper into
your ear as you rest your head on my shoulder. At midnight, you say, “my love is like a red, red rose,” and then fall asleep.
As time went by, the monster of your disease starts to devour you. Your golden hair turns pale and shadowy white. You grow weak and fragile; your body becomes thin like a skeleton and you become silent and sullen.
One evening you ask me to take you to the lover’s cliff. I carry you in my arms. “This could be our last evening together,” you say as the beautiful sun sets before us.
“I promise you that this is not going to be our last evening together,” I swiftly make a vow to you. You stay silent and continue to gaze at the sky.
“God is a great artist,” you utter, after a while, in a distant tone as if you no longer belong to this world. “Look! How extraordinarily he paints this world every evening.”
“And indeed, never has any painter created a canvas as dazzling and beautiful as this,” I say, awestruck by the sunset. As the sun sinks into the Pacific, the dark shadows start to crawl out and engulf the world.
The moonless, dark night starts to unfold. You ask me to bring a bottle of water from a nearby shop and when I return you are no longer there. I search for you for hours, but I cannot find you anywhere. I sit on the edge of the cliff where I had left you and stare into the darkness below. A while later, as I listen to the splashing of the waves, I hear broken lines of songs from the past drifting through the cold wind. It sends a sharp chill through me.
So, the legend is true, I speak to myself. And then I make out this familiar verse which you used to sing, “My love is like a red, red rose.” With this—everything: where you went, what you wanted me to know when you told me that legend on your sixteenth birthday and what you meant when you told me that this would be our last evening together—fell to its place.
I stand on my toes and shout, “I will keep my promise, Mackie! I won’t let this evening be our last together,” and plunge into the darkness, into the Pacific. “I’m coming for you Mackie, my love, my everything,” I yell. And then there is a deep, reverberating splash.
All silent. A new beginning
Published: 26-05-2019 07:00