Saturday, July 05, 2008

Going On




The Alchemist, p. 121-124:

Fatima appeared at the entrance of the tent. The two walked out among the date palms. The boy knew that it was a violation of the Tradition, but that didn't matter to him now.

"I am going away," he said. "And I want you to know that I'm coming back. I love you because..."

"Don't say anything," Fatima interrupted. "One is loved because one is loved. No reason is needed for loving."

But the boy continued, "I had a dream, and I met with a king. I sold crystal and I crossed the desert. And because the tribes declared war, I went to the well, seeking the alchemist. So, I love you because the entire universe conspired to help me find you."

The two embraced. It was the first time either had touched the other.

"I'll be back," the boy said.

"Before this, I always looked to the desert with longing," said Fatima. "Now it will be with hope. My father went away one day, but returned to my mother, and he has always come back since then."

They said nothing else. They walked a bit further among the palms, then the boy left her at the entrance to her tent.

"I'll return, just as your father came back to your mother," he said.

He saw that Fatima's eyes were filled with tears.

"You're crying?"

"I am a woman of the desert," she said, averting her face. "But above all, I'm a woman."

Fatima went back to her tent, and, when daylight came, she went out to do the chores she had done for years. But everything had changed. The boy was no longer at the oasis, and the oasis would never again have the same meaning it had only yesterday. It would no longer be a place with fifty thousand date palms and three hundred wells, where the pilgrims arrived, relieved at the end of their long journeys. From that day on, the oasis would be an empty place for her.

From that day on, it was the desert that would be important. She would look to it every day and would try to guess which star the boy was following in search of his treasure. She would have to send her kisses on the wind, hoping that the wind would touch the boy's face, and would tell him that she was alive. That she was waiting for him, a woman awaiting a courageous man in search of his treasure. From that day on, the desert would represent only one thing to her: the hope for his return.

* * *

"Don't think about what you've left behind," the alchemist said to the boy as they began to ride across the sands of the desert. "Everything is written in the Soul of the World, and there it will stay forever."

"Men dream more about coming home than leaving," the boy said. He was already reaccustomed to the desert's silence.

"If what one finds is made of pure matter, it will never spoil. And one can always come back. If what you had found was only a moment of light, like the explosion of a star, you would find nothing on your return."

The man was speaking the language of alchemy. But the boy knew that he was referring to Fatima.

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