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The Little Mermaid - Part 5

posted Mar 2, 2012, 6:47 AM by Madhuri Sen

“Surili, …could you hand me the towel, please?” he yelled out from the bathroom. She broke off from laying breakfast.  Having handed him his towel, she hung around the bathroom. She loved to see him step out with his hair all mussed up, torso still glistening with water dripping off his hair. He never seemed to be able to wipe himself off well enough. She’d always towel his hair out further so that the water wouldn’t be all over the floor.

“I’ll back late tonight. Don’t wait up for me. Going out with the boy band,” he said. She looked up at him with a fond smile. “Sure,” she replied, “I have an early show today, so I think I’ll catch up on the movies I have pending on my list for a while.”

It was five years since the witch had handed her the knife…leaving her to choose to either destroy or be destroyed. Yash would come over almost every evening after that and leave late at night. He never stayed until the morning though and did not turn up over the weekend.  She had not spoken further to him about breaking off his engagement. The knife lay in a drawer in the bed side table. One night, she held the knife in her lap and watched it while he slept, before it was time for him to leave.  As she watched, an immense sense of pity came over her. He could not see nor value the intensity of her love. Was that his crime? Or was that his loss?  She had sought the love of someone who was deprived himself.  She was very gentle with him after that time.

“Yash, I would like you to have a happily married life. At least give it a fair chance. I want to give myself a fair chance too. So I’ll see you till the day you wed if you like, but never again after that. At least not like this.” She felt a deep sense of peace coming over her as she said this. She was ready for the sea again, to become one with its foam. She had released him.  Yash smiled, “You really think you can live without me? Our love is too strong to break like this.” She replied, “I loved you for who you are, as you are. I do not need you to complete my love anymore. It’s complete in itself.  I am happy that I had the chance to love you at all – but all love is not meant to be anything more than just that. You should find your way and I’ll seek mine. There will always be a place in my heart that will belong only to you, but it no more seeks a place in yours.”

The full moon rose early, the evening of the wedding. Surili stood at the balcony of her apartment and watched the sun and the moon, one setting and the other rising, passing by each other in one of those rare moments. It was a huge golden moon, towering over the world overwhelmingly. She had kept her evening free of all shows that day. When it was dark enough and the moon had already set, she walked to the sea by Marine drive and let the sound of the waves sooth her.  After having stood there for a while, she decided to walk the stretch till Chowpatty. She had the urge to dip her feet in the sea while she still had them. The sand on the beach was still warm and so was the water. She walked along the line in ankle deep water, where the waves met the sand. An occasional large wave would rise up and spray her face.  She smiled to herself. It was indeed a beautiful world. She was happy.

She lost sense of time and looked at her watch only when the crowd on the beach seemed to have completely disappeared. It was seven minutes past midnight. She had been waiting for midnight to meld back into the sea. Had the promise of the potion not worked?

“My potions always do what they are meant to, my dear.” Surili swiftly turned around, in surprise to face the witch who stood there with a dark veil covering her face. “Why are you here?  You were to come to fetch me only if I had Yash’s blood on my hands,” she asked with a puzzled expression on her face. “Has my father bought me more time?”

“None of that! You would have turned to foam in the sea only if the one whose love you sought got wedded to another. You did not seek Yash’s love any more. Moreover, your love for him had turned into pity for the weak man that you realized he was. Don’t you see that?”

“If you want to turn back into a mermaid, all you have to do is sink the dagger into the man whose love you have sought and failed to gain. Of course, you would still have the option of being one with the foam in the sea by tossing your knife away. Else you are now destined to live the life of a human; you will never be a mermaid again.” She cackled hideously with a twinkle in her eye, as she walked right back into the sea.

At first there were first frequent calls from Yash asking to meet her again, starting the day after he returned from his honeymoon. He had not believed that she would indeed insist on never seeing him anymore. As she stood firm in her decision, the calls reduced and then finally stopped.

Surili always kept the knife by her bedside. She had met Avik about a year later. Theirs was a relationship of deep bonding, beyond just the passion. She loved him deeply, but saw him fret for the girl he had left behind before her. In the course of time, he returned to the one he belonged to.

It was now over three years that Ray and she had been together. Her life seemed to be enveloped in the sunshine of his love. Each day was a gift.

He continued to tickle her, “You have to now tell me why you always keep that knife there and throw a fuss about it being moved.” She shrieked out with tortured laughter, “No, no. I will never tell you. I can’t.” “So you plan to murder me in the dead of night? Hah…caught you,” he said, incessantly poking his fingers into her ribs. “I can tickle too, you know,” she said waggling her finger mock menacingly. He pushed her back down to the pillow and held her with hands pinned under his on both sides.  “Please, Surili, tell me. I know that knife has some significance for you. Don’t you trust me to tell me this one thing?”

She stayed silent for a few seconds, then looking deep into his eyes said, “Suffice to say that it’s a souvenir, a mere decorative piece very dear to me.  A leftover from the time when I was yet to learn how to truly love…truly love without the expectation of any return. To rejoice in the love itself and to celebrate its reciprocation if that miracle happens; not try to snatch, demand or seek it from the other. Love that exists to only seek return or reciprocation in equal measure -  DESTROYS … either you or the other.”

“Even with the same person, one day I may love him more and another day less and someday as we grow into different people, not at all. The same may be with him for me. The power and pleasure of love is contained itself - in what it is today….not what it may mean tomorrow or can get one in return.  I feel I could love you forever and ever and you would too; but it is not possible to commit to you now that I will, neither could I believe it if you said you would. It’s only on the day that either you or I die that we would know if we did………love each other forever. Love is only a beautiful journey, never a destination.”

Ray grinned widely, looking lovingly into her eyes, “Such a wicked witch you are! …..forever speaking in riddles. What has this pompous ass like lecture on the nature of love to do with the knife, eh?” He continued teasingly, “That mumbo jumbo only sounded like you don’t really love me.” 

For those interested in reading the original fairy tale by Hans Christian Anderson written in 1836 please click through to