Manikarnika

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I’d mentioned before, my dear, that this poor land on this horrible earth has never seen a tragedy. That after life: life. Death was only a pause, a line break before the next dazzling stanza of the poem : where fortunes change, lovers unite, and dead parents always return as beautiful infants. I know we’re characters in Darwin’s book — have you read Szymborska’s Consolation? — and don’t think that I haven’t watched popular Hindi films about reincarnation and couples that finally marry after many lifetimes of separation. I believe in them with all my heart.

But I’ve always known, even as a child. A fortune-teller had predicted after looking carefully at the stars that constructed me: this is it, my last. I can’t even return as a body for you to look at centuries later, I can’t leave my grave at midnight to meet you: ancient rituals command that I must be burnt to ash.

My love, I don’t have another life. Is this, then, goodbye?

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