Manuel and The Two Hearts

9. The star and the peacock

The death of Manuel brought munch sorrow on Bohemond’s house. The people were whispering in discontent. Suspicion of foul play and court intrigues hanged above every member of his family. To assuage the growing clamour the king ordered the building of a massive mausoleum for the young man. Once this was finished, on his tomb stone the king laid the small, shining star that Manuel had snatched from the bosom of the cold sea, an eternal reminder of the youth’s beauty and virtues.

Isabella would visit the imposing mausoleum every day, floating like a pale ghost among the marble statues and praying in a frenzy to chase away the pain and the guilt that tormented her day and night. She blamed herself for what had happened and never recovered from the loss of her love.

As for the queen, she never had it better. Young Manuel had been punished for his impertinence and all her misdemeanour lay buried with him under a heavy stone slab.

A year passed and, apart from a few bards and drunkards, the city almost forgot all about Manuel and his troubles. And, as people had to go on with their lives, the dashing Isabella was soon to marry a new suitor, a prince from Edessa, a neighbouring kingdom, thus forging a new alliance of the crusaders against the many enemies that surrounded them.

*

It was a night and a thick fog surrounded the monument where Manuel body rested, when the iron door opened with a rumble and two light steps barely touching the hard pavement of the mausoleum rushed towards the stone coffin. A tearful Isabella kneeled right next to the tomb and uttered:

“I am sorry, my love, for all the torments I caused you and for the sad ending I brought upon you. You deserved better and I will have my punishment in this life and the next. It is always the innocent and the good that pay the price for all our sins while the rest of the world gloats in its vanity like it is the best thing there can be. I… I came to bid you farewell for in just a few day I am about to be betrothed to another man. The will of my father and the needs of my country compel me, and I must accept. But know this, my dearest Manuel, you will forever be my one true love. Rest well, and don’t return to this world of sadness before the end of days, when I am sure you will come flying down as one of God’s angels.”

Isabella trembled and choked in tears, but then, the lonely star that was flickering on Manuel’s tomb flared up and spoke to the startled girl:

“I hope those tears of yours are tears of joy. Life gives has many wonders but there is nothing like the one of resurrection. Daughter of Antioch look around you! In all the darkness there is hope and there is light. I would have spoken earlier to you, but I had to know the depth of your devotion. Nothing Manuel has done was in vain and he received the greatest gift of all in the shape of a peacock. For you see, that peacock is the bird of God one who has power over life as well as over death. So, go now, waste no time and ask the bird to bring you Manuel’s soul back from the great beyond. ”

The star’s light suddenly faded away and Isabella stood there in awe for what she had just witnessed. The girl then ran like the wind out of the mausoleum and into the palace, seeking for the wonderful golden bird and when she found it the bird puffed its tail and sang.

Isabella asked the peacock to do what the star had just told her. The dazzling bird looked at her with indifference, just like any other bird would have done, but after just a few moments it spread its wings and flu away, high in the sky until it disappeared from Isabella’s sight. The peacock passed beyond the clouds, beyond the stars, and beyond the fire that surrounds the world and arrived in a place where there was nothing and from that nothing it picked with its beak an invisible seed it then took back on the Earth and left in on Manuel’s tomb. The seed bore its way to Manuel’s body and planted itself in his heart. Then, the tomb shook and its heavy slab cracked like a nutshell. 

The next day, carrying the wonderful peacock on his shoulder Manuel appeared at the court. Horror and amazement gripped the whole city. The church bells tolled once again, for their hero had now defeated even death itself. The time for retribution had come.

Summer Dream

Let us elope into the summer, my love,

Across the wide plains, beyond the high mountains,

And there I will build us a dazzling new home

With statues of marble, arches, and fountains.

We’ll hunt earthly beauties and bind them in chains,

We’ll hunt them on horses with fiery manes,

The gods in the sky have all fallen but one,

Let’s sail on the ocean and fly to the Sun.

Manuel și Cele Două Inimi

8. A treia încercare

Manuel tocmai aflase că iar trebuia să plece la drum, de data aceasta la curtea marelui sultan al Rumului. Ce avea să aducă de acolo era un trandafir sfânt ale cărui petale, odată atinse, îi sileau pe oameni să spună întotdeauna numai adevărul. Dar această floare era foarte bine păzită și nu erau mulți cei care s-ar fi aventurat să o ia de unde se afla.

Totuși, Manuel înlătură încă o dată toate fricile și călări peste munți până când, într-o zi, ajunse la porțile orașului în care pătrunse pretinzând că era un negustor persan.

Când se lăsă noaptea Manuel se strădui să afle o cale în interiorul palatului, dar oriunde se uită oștenii înarmați până în dinți stăteau de pază peste tot pe zidurile cele înalte de piatră. Un pătrar de lună argintie răsări și pe cer și lumină întunericul, îngreunând și mai mult sarcina lui Manuel.

Dar apoi, ca de nicăieri, mugetele unor goarne au cutremurat aerul miezului de noapte. O oștire numeroasă tocmai ce venise cu împăratul lor din Constantinopol, înconjurară orașul și au început să semene groaza printre locuitorii cetății. Cum se putu oare ca o oștire atât de mare să treacă nevăzută de toate iscoadele sultanului? Dar acum era mult prea târziu pentru asemenea întrebări. Orașul trebuia să se apere. În confuzia care urmă, mulți dintre paznicii sultanului părăsiră palatul pentru a lupta pe zidurile cetății. Atunci, acel simț neobișnuit pe care Manuel îl dobândi când își sacrifică ochiul, îl conduse la o mică ușă din spatele palatului. În graba lor, oștenii care au ieșit pe ea o uitaseră descuiată. Manuel a intrat pe acolo și a început să umble prin palat ca și cum ar fi cunoscut fiecare colț, fiecare coridor și fiecare încăpere. Așa a ajuns, nevăzut de nimeni, să găsească sfântul trandafir ce era ascuns într-o somptuoasă curte interioară decorată cu stâlpi, arcuri înalte și patru fântâni minunate. Sub lumina lunii larma luptelor se stinse în depărtare. Tot ce Manuel putea auzi acum erau fluieratul câtorva greieri și susurul leneș al apei din fântâni. Trandafirul era în mijlocul curții, împrejmuit de un ramurile sale spinoase. Avea o singură floare măreață și strălucitoare, aflată în inima acelor crengi încolăcite. Pentru a ajunge la ea, Manuel a trebuit să treacă printre acei spini, care îi zgâriară și-l înțepară până la sânge. Ah, Manuel, de ce puterea ta de-a vedea lucruri te-a părăsit tocmai aici?

Băiatul a cules floarea, ascunzând-o la piept. Apoi, a ieșit din palat așa cum a și intrat și, reușind să treacă de ambele armate, se coborî pe zidurile cetății, fură un cal și călări înapoi spre Antiohia.

Odată ce trecu de porțile cetății a mers la Isabela și dădu floarea. Era o dimineață frumoasă de vară. Fata-l privi pe încântătorul Manuel și, nepăsătoare la toți cei din jur, îl îmbrățișă cu dragoste. Dar la numai câteva clipe după aceea un tremur cumplit îl cuprinse pe Manuel azvârlindu-l la pământ. O spumă groasă și albă a început să-i iasă pe la colțurile gurii și tânărul se răsuci de durere. Cuprins de disperare, Manuel o privi pe Isabella pentru o ultimă oară, strigându-i numele, apoi, după câteva minute cumplite, a murit otrăvit de spinii otrăviți ai trandafirului sfânt. Acesta a fost adevăratul secret ce păzea minunata comoară a marelui sultan.

We Are Light

Come, let’s buy a cat and play with its instincts,

It will go chasing, we will be happy,

And once we’ll get bored with all of its frisking,

Alice, my dear, we’ll buy us a puppy.

We’re weapons for others and die in their fight,

But something reminds us we’re more, we are light.

The Piano

The Piano

I dreamt I played a piano,

I stroked its strings of gold,

My fingers then got numb,

But with my lips I told

The stories of my songs

With notes turned into words

And with a pen I pinched

My voice’s golden cords.

Our kind is made of strings

That vibrate at the sight

Of what inspires us,

And fills us with its light.

Manuel și Cele Două Inimi

7. Cea de-a doua încercare

Câteva zile mai târziu, Manuel primi o scrisoare semnată de Isabela în care citi următoarele:

”Iubitul meu, tot ce îmi doresc este să fii alături de mine, dar rănile pe care infidelitatea ta le-au lăsat încă sângerează. Te rog nu renunța la dragostea noastră și dovedește-mi pentru a doua oară că în inima ta nu este loc pentru nimeni altcineva în afară de mine. Dragul meu Manuel, adu-mi o stea de pe cer și voi uita tot ce-a fost între noi.”

Zăpăcit, Manuel abia dacă mai recunoscu glasul soției sale în acele câteva rânduri și pe bună dreptate, căci ele fuseseră scrise la îndemnul reginei, care, după ce văzuse minunatul păun de aur, nutrea acum și mai multă ură pentru băiat. Dar această nouă sarcină avea să-l țină departe de ea și de fiica ei odată și pentru totdeauna, pedepsindu-i tânărului îndrăzneala și răzbunând-o pe regină.

Multe nopți la rând Manuel contemplă cerul înstelat cu nesfârșitele-i câmpii întunecate și constelațiile sale călătoare. Uneori, închizându-și ochii, credea că putea auzi o muzică venind dinspre ele. Dar cea mai strălucitoare stea dintre toate cele ce erau era frumoasa lui Isabela și cel mai clar sunet care-i fusese dat să audă vreodată fusese cel al vocii ei. Se întreba apoi cum ar fi putut oare să izbândească, cum ar fi putut să-i aducă soției sale ceea cee a-i ceruse.

Răspunsul îi veni într-o noapte senină când din nou privea înspre cer și văzu o mică stea ce căzu undeva în apus, scufundându-se în marea cea nemărginită.

Băiatul nu ezită nici măcar o clipă. Părăsi Antiohia în chiar atunci și ajunse pe țărmul Mediteranei în dimineața imediat următoare. Îndreptându-se înspre soare apune într-o barcă cumpărată de la un pescar, Manuel a fost dus departe de țărm de briza cea ușoară ce sufla peste ape.

De data aceasta nu mai fusese călăuzit de o umbră îndepărtată ci de lumina albastră a stelei ce izvora din străfundul apelor, asemănându-se razelor unui far scufundat, iar când într-un sfârșit ajunse in locul în care steaua căzuse în mare, privi în adâncuri și văzu un punct alb și singuratic ce se stătea pe fundul apei. Găsise ceea ce căuta. Manuel luă o gură de aer, se afundă în abis și înotă în miezul acelui fluviu de lumină ce venea din adâncuri. Era un drum lung până în la fundul mării și înapoi, dar băiatul înotă fără încetare până rămase fără aer în piept. Trezindu-se undeva la jumătatea drumului, Manuel începu să se sufoce și să se zbată cu groază. Nu mai avea cum să înainteze și nici nu mai avea cum să facă cale întoarsă. Fără nici o îndoială s-ar fi înecat, dar un sărut rece și neașteptat îl umplu cu viață. Când Manuel își reveni, era în brațele unei nimfe, care văzând că era în primejdie, îi sări în ajutor și așa băiatul a ajuns în sfârșit pe fundul mării unde, înghițită de apele sărate, steaua se stingea încet. Corpul ceresc era o sferă îndeajuns de mică încât băiatul să o poată lua în mână, dar lumina ei se împrăștia pe sute de mile în jur. Manuel a luat steaua și, tras din adâncuri de fermecătoarea femeie din tărâmul apelor, scăpă de o moarte cumplită.

De îndată ce-au ajuns la suprafață el i-a mulțumit nimfei și s-a urcat in barcă, începând să vâslească înspre țărmurile răsăritene. Dar făptura marină nu-l lăsă să plece. Îl salvase datorită frumuseții lui deosebite, iar acum Manuel trebuia să stea alături de ea pentru totdeauna. Când Manuel refuză, nimfa scutură barca cu furie, amenințându-l pe tânăr că avea să-l sfâșie în bucăți. Știind cât de sângeroase puteau fi aceste creaturi ale mării, Manuel îi ceru iertare nimfei și-i istorisi povestea lui, apoi se jură că-i va da orice în schimbul libertății. La care nimfa îl privi în ochi și-i spuse:

”Bunul meu om, ceea ce-mi ceri este cu neputință. Nu este nimic să-mi poți da și eu să nu am deja. Dar pari să ai un suflet mai curat decât apa din care m-am născut. Acum știu că niciodată nu îmi vei aparține. De aceea tot ceea ce-ți dai este unul din ochii tăi, să-mi amintească de tine. Doar așa mă voi încredința de curajul tău și te voi lăsa să pleci.”

Și astfel, sărmanul Manuel și-a scos singur ochiul cel drept oferindu-i-l nimfei. 

Astfel eliberat, tânărul pe jumătate orb se înturnă în Antiohia. Dar cât încă era pe drum, ceva întunecat se strecură în inima lui ca și cum pierderea unuia dintre ochi îi dădu puterea să vadă lucruri ascunse și pentru prima oară băiatul putu să recunoască cauza tuturor greutăților sale.

Când ajunse în oraș ținând în mâinile sale Steaua cea albă și strălucitoare, se închină în fața curtenilor și apoi puse sfera cerească la picioarele reginei.

Nimeni nu a înțeles gestul lui în afară de Constanța, care acum simți cum ceva se schimbase în Manuel. Steaua a fost apoi alezată într-o cutie de fildeș și dusă în camera Isabelei, iar Manuel s-a alăturat din nou familiei sale. De acolo el i-a trimis Isabelei câteva rânduri. Răspunsul a venit trei zile mai târziu. Nu era cel la care s-ar fi așteptat.

https://poemefarastapan.com/2019/06/25/manuel-and-the-two-hearts-7/

Manuel and The Two Hearts

7. The second trial

A few days later Manuel received a letter which appeared to have been written by Isabella. The letter contained the following:

“My love, I wish nothing more than to have you by my side, but the wounds that were left by your infidelity are still bleeding. Please do not forsake our love and prove me for a second time that there can be no one else in your heart but me. Beloved Manuel, bring me a star from the sky and I shall forget the past.”

Dumbfounded, Manuel could barely recognise his wife voice in those words and he was right to do so, for the letter had been written at the queen’s urging, who, after seeing the incredible golden peacock hated him even more. But this request she now made would keep Manuel away from both her and Isabella forever, punishing his defiance and avenging her pride.

For many nights to come Manuel contemplated the beautiful sky, with its endless dark plains and its travelling constellations. Sometimes, when he closed   his eyes, he thought he could hear a music coming from above. Yet the brightest star of all was his fair Isabella and the purest sound he longed for was the one of her voice. He then wondered how to do it, how on earth could he bring her the star she wanted.

The answer came to him on the brightest night of all. Manuel was again gazing at the sky when he saw one tiny star falling somewhere in the West, sinking in the great sea.

The boy didn’t hesitate for one moment. He left Antioch that very moment reaching the shores of the Mediterranean on the coming morning. Heading towards the sunset on a boat he bought from a fisherman, Manuel was carried far away offshore by the light sea breeze.

This time he wasn’t led by a distant shadow but by the star’s blue light plunging out from below the waters like the beam of a sunken far, and, when finally reached the place where the star fell into the sea, he stared into the depths and saw a lonely white dot resting on the sea bed. He had found what he was looking for. Manuel then took a deep breath; he dived into the abyss and swam right into the stream of light that came towards him. It was a long way to the sea floor and back, nevertheless Manuel went on until he ran out of air. Hanging half-way below the surface, he started to choke and to squirm, gripped by terror. The was no way he could go on, no way to turn back. The boy would have drowned for sure if it hadn’t been for a sudden, cold kiss which filled him with the breath of life. Manuel came back to his senses to see himself in the embrace of a lovely sea nymph who jumped to his aid. It was because of her that he finally reached the depts of the sea where the star was being slowly extinguished by the salty water. The heavenly body was just a small orb he could hold in the palm of his hand, but the stream of light it diffused, spread for hundreds of miles around. The boy grabbed it and pulled by the enchanting sea woman he escaped a horrible death.

Once they reached the surface, he thanked the nymph and jumped inside the boat, rowing towards the Eastern shores. But the sea creature sopped him. She had saved him only because of his unearthly beauty and now he had to stay with her forever. When Manuel refused, the furious nymph shook the boat and threatened the shred Manuel into pieces. Knowing how bloodthirsty sea creatures could be, Manuel asked for her forgiveness and told her his whole story, begging her to let him sail away. The nymph looked him in the eyes and said:

“My gentle human, what you ask of me is   almost impossible. But you seem have an honest heart, one that will never fall for me. That is why, I will let you leave if you to give me one of your eyes to remind me of you and to be an undoubtable proof of your valour.”

And so, poor Manuel gorged his right eye out and offered it to the sea nymph.

Once free, the half-blind youth went back to Antioch.  But while still on his way, something dark crept in Manuel’s soul as if the loss of that eye had given him a second sight and for the first time, he came to recognise the source of all his hardships.

When he reached the city, he bowed in front of the court and placed the glowing white star at the feet of none other but the queen.

Apart from Constance, everyone failed to understand the gesture. The queen sensed that somehow Manuel wasn’t the same anymore.  

The star was then sealed away in an ivory box and taken to Isabella’s chamber while Manuel re-joined his family. From there he wrote a short note to his wife. The reply arrived three days later, and it wasn’t at all what he had expected…

https://poemefarastapan.com/2019/06/25/manuel-si-cele-doua-inimi-7/

Manuel and The Two Hearts

6. The first trial

After preparing a swift departure, early on the next day Manuel left Antioch and went Eastwards. It took him many days, but once he reached the banks of the mighty Euphrates, he built a raft and floated down the cold, rapid waters, struggling not to crush into the massive rocks that stood in his way. As the river widened, the flow of water slowed down, slowly carrying him towards the endless, deep sea. And when he reached it, he kept on floating on the calm waters for weeks, but he didn’t find the beautiful island and its fantastic dwellers. Maybe it all had been just a lie meant to send him to his doom.

Then, one cold night, somewhere on the high seas, Manuel spotted a small outcrop. But by morning the distant promontory had vanished, and so did the boy’s hopes. What made things worse, his food and water were nearly gone. Yet, the next night he again saw that strange mound, looming in the distance. Feeling how his strength was flowing out of his body, he sailed for it. That was his last chance of getting anywhere. With the new daylight came another disappointment. Whatever that thing was, it was nowhere in sight. However, Manuel stayed on course, oaring towards the inexistent destination. And with every passing night the once small shadow reappeared growing larger and larger only to disappear in the morning. He had done well not to give up to desolation and stop from reaching it. It became clear that some sort of magic impeded Manuel from seeing the outcrop in clear daylight. And so, on the seventh night he finally arrived on the shores of an island, all covered with forests the like he had never seen before. Manuel crept inside those woods to see them populated with all sorts creatures having many odd shapes and ravishing, bright colours. There were fruits and flowers of incredible sizes, swarms of flying fish, giant reptiles and frogs, buffalos with magnificent, spiralling horns, two headed elephants, white deer, covered with gemstones, airy butterflies who dissolved into thin air like smoke, and all sorts of other unknown creatures.

The island was crossed by a network of small rivers, and all seemed to flow from one single place in its centre. Fade, eerie sounds came down the water streams, but as Manuel advanced deeper inside the forest, they became louder. He then found an open plain, and in the middle of that plain there was a pond, the source of all those streams. What was even more bizarre, on the pond there was a small island thronged by hundreds of peacocks. Their plumage came in all colours ant they were singing in a frenzy around a tall tree and perched on one its branches there was a radiant golden peacock. The bird spanned its metallic wings and chased away all the other peacocks, who rose in a dazzling swirl, spreading across the island. After that, the king of peacocks fell asleep.

*

Manuel sought the chance and swam across to that small patch of land, and crawling towards the three, he climbed on it getting as close as he could to the sleeping bird. But just before he could grab it, the peacock awoke and flu away on another branch, where Manuel couldn’t reach it.

The boy went down, trying how to find a way to catch the sly peacock, always thinking of his beloved Isabella who was waiting for him, far away in Antioch.

Not long after, all the noises of the forest halted. Alone in that wilderness, Manuel started to be harassed by his body’s needs. Beleaguered by thirst, hunger and fatigue he first went to drink some water from the pond, but went he tried to take some in his palm, the waters withdrew under the ground. Hungry, he saw that the three was full of fruits, but when he grabbed one of them, the fruit withered away and turned into ash. Too tired to think about the bird, Manuel laid on the ground and thought of dozing off for a few minutes, but a voice came from under the grass and spoke to him:

“Young man, if you fall asleep, you’ll be swallowed by this island. All that beauty you see thrives on the bodies of those who hoped to catch the golden bird. Go back and never return to this cursed place! I was a man like you once. I came here thinking this golden bird would make me rich, that it would help me fulfil all my desires. But now, look at me, look what I’ve become. I am just a pile of soil and roots; defenceless food for the ants that crawl inside me. I feel their stinging bites, but I cannot defend myself. Don’t share my torment. Run away from here, for if you sleep, you’ll be always trapped in here, half dead and half alive, just like the me.” The voice stopped.

Manuel understood this was a task he could never accomplish. Weakened by the many nights on the sea, he closed his heavy eye lids for a moment and saw Isabella. It was just for her he had come so far. He sought no fortune, no fame. He lived only for his love. Alas, without even knowing he slipped into the sleep of death. When he realised that he had fallen into that never-ending dream, it was already too late. He felt the thin roots of the three piercing his skin and dragging him under the earth. He tried to fight them but had no more power. Hopeless, Manuel whispered his young wife’s name. The last thing he heard were some wings flapping above his head…

*

“Manuel, I only let myself caught in dreams, for dreams always reveal a man’s true nature, his deepest thoughts. Most of those who came here have tried to have me for their own vain desires. What they got instead was eternal damnation. But you seek to save your love and that I cannot vanquish. So far, I’ve met only a few mortals to be worthy of me. You’re among them. I free you from my course. Wake up!”

The boy opened his eyes and found the golden peacock sitting right next to him. His kind soul had saved him and brought the bird down to the ground.

 And so, the youth had managed to complete the task. But now he started to contemplate at his long way back. He had no more food and water, neither could he get them from that island. Then, like somehow it had read Manuel’s mind, the peacock shook its feathers and grew tenfold in size. Spreading its long, golden wings it shrieked and waited for Manuel to climb on its back. Once that happened, the two flew back to Antioch.

*

Imagine the amazement of all those living in the city when they saw the boy circling on the back of a giant golden peacock high above the lofty, slender towers.

Once the landed, the peacock returned to its previous size and was taken in one of the palace gardens, where he spent much of the days grooming itself and displaying its glittering plumage to the astounded people at the court.

 As for Manuel, he returned to his mother house and from where he sent a message to Isabella, waiting for her response. Tee poor youth hoped their troubles were finally over.

Relieved, Isabella, wanted to see him right away, but her jealous mother reminded her of the letter and persuaded her not to give up with such an ease. Manuel must have caught the bird out of sheer luck. There were better ways to prove his devotion to his wife and she will find them.

Manuel and The Two Hearts

5. The plot

The queen had adored Manuel since the first day she laid her eyes on him. In the beginning, her shrewdness had stopped her to make any advances to the youth, but after a while her love became stronger than her reason and she acted upon her whim. But once she realised Manuel would never bow to her and knowing that the consequences of her foolishness threatened her position at the court, she wanted to get rid of Manuel.

Ans so, one night, wrapped in a long, dark coat, she left Antioch and after a few hours ride she reached a small cottage found at the edge of a dark forest. She knocked at the door and from inside answered the coarse voice of an old woman who, once she recognised her guest, rushed to let Constance in. The queen had come to see her most trusted advisor, the most powerful witch in the Levant and told the old woman that all the charms and potions she got from her to seduce Manuel had failed. The only course of action left was to destroy the boy. Knowing her mistress as she did the witch agreed. She went to a desk, sat down, lit a candle, took a sheet of paper, a quill and some ink, then, by looking at the paper through a magic lens, she started to write a letter. Once finished, she handed the letter over to Constance telling her that the handwriting on the letter was Manuel’s himself and that the forgery was a love confession to a certain noble girl, who was well known in the entire kingdom for her striking beauty. The only thing the queen had to do was to show that letter to Isabella. The jealous princess would lose faith in her husband and the king would banish Manuel from the court for all eternity.

Contented, Constance went back to the palace and the next day she approached Isabella in private. With tearful eyes, the queen showed the letter to the girl pretending it was a secret only the two of them and the guilty lovers knew. The ever-faithful Isabella was shattered. Her young mind was flooded with sorrow. Manuel had been her whole world and now that world came tumbling down. Convinced by her mother never to reveal where she got the letter from Isabella confronted her lover, asking him for a piece of his own handwriting. She then accused him of betrayal and showed him the forged letter. While Manuel was reading that unbelievable account of infidelity, that seemed to have been written by his own hand, his young face expressed both hatred and pain. The boy fell on his knees and swore on everything he held more holy that all that was a plot against his life and against their love. But everything he said fell on empty ears. The princess was treating him like he was a stranger. Manuel stood up and decided to fight for that love once more. He returned the letter to his wife and spoke:

“I can’t pull the seeds of doubt out of your heart. I don’t have the guile of those who framed me. If I was a different man, I would give up on you right now, but I am the one you have always known and cherished. I will undo this insult you received the only way I can.  Please, let me replant love we lost. Whatever you want from me, ask and I will give it to you. Until then I will leave this room and this palace, waiting for your decision. You will find me at my mother’s house.”

The boy walked out, leaving a confused and scared Isabella. Minutes later she dashed into the queen’s chambers begging her to help her save her love. The queen promised her to come with an answer, but that she needed some time to think about it. The next day Constance again appealed to the witch and when she returned to the palace, she looked for her daughter. She embraced Isabella and said:

“My sweet girl, a man’s desire comes and goes as quick as a summer rain. The one you love does no longer want you. His hot blood earns for another. But if you really want him back and if he is ready to prove his worth, find out that at the mouths of the Euphrates river lies a forsaken island. On that island there is a garden filled with flowers and beasts, the likes of which you’ll never find anywhere on Earth or even in the seven skies above. Now, in the middle of the garden stands a magic tree, and on its branches lives a wonderful golden bird. If your husband really loves you, ask him to catch that bird and bring it to you. What greater feat of devotion could someone ask for? The journey towards that garden is a perilous one, but it is up to him to venture there and regain you trust.”

The queen kissed her daughter and smiled. She knew from the old witch that such a task was impossible to achieve. That same evening, the princess went to see Manuel and asked him to venture into the unknown and bring her the golden bird. He agreed without a sign of hesitation.

Can We Really Break The Cycle?

Georges Seurat. A Sunday on La Grande Jatte — 1884, 1884/86. Helen Birch Bartlett Memorial Collection.
Art Institute ChicChicago

Can we start living outside the norms and obligations of societies, beyond the prejudices, the mass consumption patterns?

The only thing I can say about my life right now is that I am tired. Tired of running in circles, tired of running away, tired of struggling for things that will most probably never make me happy.

For many of us it is time to redifine their way we think, to learn the function of generosity, the role of a good, long break, to learn to say no when we have to, to cherish everything that life gave us, and to build with what we have. We live under the umbrella of fear and division, we live to serve others, constanlty ingest what we are given, never doubt.

We drag ourselves from one paycheck to another, from one loan to another. Every year we buy year new gadgets without even learning how to use the old ones. We travel to escape our lives, then we return to find ourselves trapped again. We try to evade life and death alike. In a world where everything falls into the hands of private bussineses, society will only feed basic needs, never ensure security to its people, never create free citizens. Is this what we’ve become so proud of? Is that what we actually need from life?

What can we do then?

Tackling social policies and cultural prejudices would be a part of the answer.

Living for a clear, achevable goal and having the right expectations would be another.

Telling the stories we want to tell, telling them out loud, and giving other people the courage they need, will always help.

Discliplining ourselves to push our own imaginary boundaries and find the strenght to pursue our dreams would be ideal.