What we have now, in this moment, will it last forever?

Yes, love.

Do you promise to never leave me?

Yes, love.

Do you promise to love me forever?

Yes, love.

And ever?

Yes, love.

No matter what?

Yes, love.

In madness, rationality, irrationality, temptation, uncertainty, and through all ordeals imaginable?

Yes, love.

Will I find you here, at this exact spot, by the river, playing your flute ever so mesmerizingly?

Yes, love.

What about after I die? Will you still love me then?

Yes, love.

What if the whole world is against us? Will you fight for me?

Yes, love.

What if I’m in danger? Whose life is more important to you?

Mine, love. Because you are my life. He said, with an unplumbed calm in the tenor in his voice.

What about when you’re gone?

If you look close enough, I’ll be right there. Never so far that your lips can’t reach mine. If your eyes cannot see me, they’re fooling you. If your ears can’t hear me, they’re trying to trick you. If you can’t smell my scent from a distance, it’s an illusion. If you brush your tongue against your palate and can’t remember what my kiss feels like, it’s a dream. My existence is but a fragment of your soul and being. I am you. As you are me.

Not a soul stirred, not in the slightest. The river stood still, its matter unaffected by the sound of the flute, defying energy and obliterating the principles of disturbance. Nature had fallen asleep to allow the lovers their privacy. A gentle breeze did blow but only they seemed to be aware of it.

She looked into his eyes, staring at his soul. Her whole world lay in there, within him. He wasn’t lying. Each time he had answered truthfully. She was momentarily distracted by the tranquil breeze, gathering the bristles of his peacock feather, sequentially like the strings of a harp. In that moment, life, music, and the meaning of existence became clear to her. In that one moment, she stopped caring about everything.

*

He was gone. They all said he was gone. He had to fulfill the purpose of his life. The ironic travesty was that he was the purpose of her life. She hadn’t asked for all of him, she wasn’t that foolish but now there was none of him.

All those promises were false, all the uncountable hours spent near the river, enveloped, engulfed in each other’s’ seemingly endless embrace were gone with him. She wouldn’t exchange it for anything in the world. She would choose that time spent together over a lifetime of happiness even if she took a thousand births. It had been so perfect that if another breath were added to it, it would be tarnished forever.

There was brief moment of anger but it passed. It didn’t take more than a fleeting moment to understand what had transpired. None of it was false, he hadn’t lied. It had lasted forever, they were together, inseparable in soul and spirit.

*

Centuries elapsed. Land had moved. The river had changed its course and gone dry. The flute still filled the air with its melody, calming the beasts, soothing the plants, healing the wounds.

She was Radha, she was Rukmini, She was Mira. She was every gopi in every rasa, every lip that locked the other and every woman and he was every man and they were together in every moment of true love, every seemingly endless embrace between lovers everywhere that made time stop and everything around stand still. In that moment, she understood why her Kanha was never going to return, because he had showed her the way to be with her always. For ever, and ever, no matter what, even after death.

What she saw through his eyes, in his soul, what she thought was true was not a lie. The flute never stopped, the river was always there.

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