"Life is the price we pay for running away from death "
































































"Yes! I loved you, I love you, and always will. I don't know any of those different names or labels or types of love that they talk about. I am a lover, and I know just one love. The 'lover' that is the verb form of the one and only noun - 'Love'," exasperated he looked up at her. There was no response. She gazed blankly ahead.
 
He paused his outburst for a moment and calmly stared at her angelic features, so charismatic and pure like the garden of Eden before Eve stepped in there. The shine in her smile had the flavour of a thousand cherry blossoms. For years he had watched her this way, and yet she looked new every time. His musing was interrupted by the wind which shook her prismatic earrings and blinded him with bright sunbeams emanating from them.
 
"My love was never exclusive. I never expected you to love me alone. I just wanted you to love me genuinely and that whenever you were with me, you would be wholesome with me. Isn't that the divine form of love they all speak about and celebrate? I never questioned your feelings about others, or tried to spy on you or suspect your loyalty. Those things were irrelevant to me. I just believed that the space I had in your heart - the small corner, if at all - was always there for me. I may have been demanding, but I was never jealous," he paused for her response, but there was none forthcoming, so he continued, "so then why do you demand a different kind of love? Why is it that you want me to love you alone and nobody else? How is loving one person only, a greater form of love than loving many people the same way? Is there a limit to love? Is it like a material thing that is allocated to one person and will lose its value if it's shared?"
 
His eyes welled up. He was angry and desolate at the same time. He lay down at her feet. She continued to sit in her cross-legged position on the pedestal and didn't budge an inch, or move to his exhortations.
 
"I do feel an exclusive love, you know? Even though I love many, the love I feel for you is for you alone. You can never be replaced by some one else... Isn't that exclusive enough for you?" he was weeping now, "I don't understand how you measure loyalty based on numbers. What is the connection between loyalty and singularity? Loyalty is a qualitative aspect, that comes into question when one has to choose between opposites, not between apples and oranges."
 
His tears ran down her feet and started cleaning the dust off them. After a while, he could see her bare legs clearly. He clasped at them - caressed her ankle, then her heels, and then toes.
 
"And what about intimacy? Why did you find that wrong? Love brings closeness, and intimacy obviously follows. When I spoke my inner feelings, you never avoided me. In that respect, I didn't have another friend as patient as you. I felt you never judged me as a psychopath or pervert like the others did. If such goodness does not create a yearning for intimacy, then what does? What was wrong in feeling intimate? Was it wrong to touch your beautiful feet and run my hand up and down in experience of that intimacy? I did it very naturally. There was no pretext. Wasn't being genuine more loyal compared to pretending?" he started caressing her calf now, but as she had done before, she didn't look at him or smile in approval. She held a blank look, as if to scorn at him.
 
"If it wasn't through intimate touch, how else was I supposed to express my feeling of closeness with you? When we got closer, I thought it would help us open up more and, hence, help us in understanding ourselves better."
 
"If intimacy that led to touching in a love-filled manner was wrong, then tell me why has Nature designed sucking at a mother's breast as the first natural act of a human being? When I fantasized the same, it looked offensive, but when a child does it to the mother, it's blissful, is it? What separates me from a child? I am ignorant and innocent too. I am helpless and insecure and scared too. If the intentions in my mind are the difference, then how do you know the what are the intentions of the child? Has the child expressed it anytime? Just like the child, I yearn for acts that naturally satisfy my hunger. When a child does it, it's an act of love, and when I do it, it's abuse?" he looked up at her, hoping she would melt and bestow some softness towards him now. He had tried both channels of reasoning and emotional approach in order to get his message across, but the response from her was the same. Silence! and that too in a way as to snub him in his face.
 
He lay crying at her feet the entire evening and continued it whole night, while she sat in her posture, unflinching, always staring ahead. One wouldn't be able to say what was going on in her mind, but her face defied any emotion.
 
Early in the morning, just before the temple bells chimed, he got up, staggered out of the sanctum sanctorum, cleaned himself at the temple pond, and rushed home through the back door. It would be scandalous if the priests found him sleeping with the idol of goddess Saraswati.
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