Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Conversations With The Flowing River

Taj Mahal complex reflected in Yamuna River at sunset. Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India
She came to sit once again, on the banks of the flowing river, and spend the night under a starlit sky. The summer breeze caressed her hair and played with her senses. The jasmine spread its fragrance as a token of love to the night.
She wanted to talk to her lover.
Hello, she said, “I have often wondered what to call you. What is the name that you are known by?”
“I have none,” replied the river, “And neither do you.”
“My name is Esther,” said the girl, smiling.
“Esther is beautiful but you are more than beautiful. Tell me one name that can contain you, or define you. Try.”
No answer.
The breeze blew away the debris and uncovered the pure, blissful calm of the night. The river smiled.
“Fine, try to call me a name,” it challenged.

The breeze blew randomly & embraced her in a hug while making small ripples in the water.
“You may call me passion,” said the river, “But in me you will also find your tranquility.”
“Some call me the force of life, I am impulse and joy,” the river laughed, “Yet I am serenity, peace, depth, I absorb you and your thoughts and carry them with me.”

The girl pondered on these sentiments. She had never understood love. Whenever she had attempted to understand, define, or contain love, it had eluded her.
Let the river flow on. There was no need to give it a name.

The night was caring and alive. A thousand unspoken words were whispered. “Can any communication contain more meaning?” she wondered.
“How can I take you home with me?” she asked.
“Try,” urged the river.
So she bent down on the sparkling, silver water, played with it, splashed it on her face, and filled her small container with some of it.
She carried it home, and placed the container on her sideboard with care. She went about her daily chores and returned in the evening, tired and spent, and sat down beside the jar full of river water. She stared it for a long, long time, seeking, waiting...
But there was no sparkle, no ripple, no lust, no freedom, no force, and no love.
The river had lost its essence in her attempt to possess it.
That night, she returned to the banks of the river, angry and hurt.
“You deceived me!” She cried, “I cannot own you, you do not belong to me.”

The river answered, “I never deceived you, I asked you to try. It will take many lessons but you will realise one day that only by not trying to possess me, can you belong to me forever, and I to you. The moment you try to limit, contain, define or possess that which is indomitable and free, your love is doomed.”
“Where do I find you then?” she pleaded, “I cannot come here to see you every time, I have places to go.”
The wind blew away her scarf and the stars twinkled with amusement. The river smiled.
“You will find me eternally with you, where you are, outside the space and time of the world.”

She spent the rest of the night in silence, soaking in the wisdom of the Himalayas carried by the river on its journey to the ocean. And then she fell asleep.
When she awoke, the sky was a reddish tinge, birds were chirping in excited anticipation of a new day. The river flowed on, full of new visions to be carried to new banks, far away.”
Her soul was refreshed, her thirst was quenched.
“Who are you?” she asked.
And as she said the words, the sky woke up and exploded into a festival of colours and sunshine brought warmth to her heart.
She could see herself in the moving stream of water, impatient, yet still.
“I am what you see,” said the river, “I am a reflection of your soul that is both restless and calm. I am undefined, like you, and that is why they call me Love.”
The girl got up, she had understood just enough to savour the essence, and not even try to give it a form.
Let the river flow on, she resolved. And then, inexplicably she felt herself to be light and free and loved ...all at once.


  1. Powerful and a beautiful tribute to love!

  2. "The river had lost its essence in her attempt to possess it."

    This reminds me a bit of a rag doll I read about once. Just as a dam cannot stop the river from flowing for very long, the rag doll dances again.

  3. A sublime piece that speaks from the soul, this is beautiful JM.
    I have always believed that Love is an act of Faith. If you try to lock it, it breaks free.
    And my favorite by line about faith: Faith is being sure of what I hope for, and certain of what I do not see. Faith too, is an act of Love.
    Awesome post!

  4. So, I get a glimpse of the essence of love here. You continue to enlighten me. Thanks for that.

  5. What can I say, but the Yamuna river (which I have now seen) makes for a wonderful metaphor, in this story. It is a bit like the Jordan River in its mythical stature.
    As always, wonderfully conceived and executed.