Migara de Silva is a 25 year-old Barrister, educated in London but currently living in Sri Lanka, who dreams of living in Manhattan to write. She is in the process of trying to get her first novel published. Her interests include but are not limited to Manchester United, Louis de Berneires, the Rolling Stones, and being generally unencumbered. This is her first publication.
There was a fence and it separated two lands. “Good fences make good neighbors”. I never understood that. There were two trees that grew on either side of the fence. They were the exact same tree except they were different trees. There was a house on either side of the fence. Sidath lived on one side and Maya lived on the other. They loved each other with a fire red. In short they were in love. They were at that place where everything is sexual and everything is a temporary madness. There were endless hoards of “I love you’s,” sighs like furnaces and pledges of death if the other should ever leave.
Then Sidath had to leave for a year to make his fortune. The goodbye was tender and the passion was intense like the sun. Off he went and Maya felt a pleasure in the amount of tears she cried. She was in love with him. She cried all day. And the next day. But the day after that she went back to trying to look pretty. “One must always look pretty while one is” she would say. She was as beautiful as the day is long, her limbs, also as long as the day is long glistened in the hot tropical sun. She did not want to be robbed of her youth.
She had many admirers. At first she wouldn’t even allow them to talk to her, she was in love. But eventually she yearned for compliments and breathlessness. So allowed them to visit her and bring her gifts. She never had the slightest intention of leaving Sidath for any of them, but what she thought of herself depended only on what everyone else thought. She needed to feel beautiful. It wasn’t enough to be beautiful. It never is. The men brought gifts and rumors of Sidath’s sexual escapades. Gradually they got to Maya. Even her best friends were talking about it. The village was alight with gossip. Her parents muttered in corners.
A year passed. Maya fell out of love. She married the richest man in the town. Sidath was unfortunate enough to come back on their wedding day. He moved into the house in which he had lived before he left. Maya’s house was demolished and replaced by a concrete monstrosity. The only thing that remained tying that land to the earth was that tree.
The years passed like flowing water. Sidath never married. Maya hated that tree. It reminded her of Sidath. She did not want to think of him. He slept with whores and he never denied it. But she also never asked him. They hadn’t spoken in 50 years even though the lived next to each other. “Good fences make good neighbors” and Maya’s husband had erected the best fence.
Maya could no longer bear the sight of that tree. While her husband was at the brothel she asked the servant boy to cut it down. It took him the best part of five hours to do it. The tree cried and screamed and then fell and splintered. The whole ground shook. As Maya’s tree fell so did Sidath’s. She looked up towards his house to see him standing on his doorstep, tears in his eyes. Maya’s heart broke.
“You were in love with me. Being in love is something any fool can do. As the saying goes, love is what is left when being in love has burnt away. You were in love with me but I love you. To me it was inconceivable that we should part and that’s why I never moved. Our roots, like these trees have become too entwined. There is no one without the other. It seems like you have discovered too late, what I always knew. This was one tree and not two.”