The Dying Swan
Sameer was crossing Interlaken on his way to Spiez. It was autumn and the myriad colours of the landscape filled his heart with an undescribable bliss. Sameer could never have enough of Switzerland. Different seasons had completely stunning makeovers and Sameer could never decide, which one was the most beautiful. His heart was also singing for, in a short while, he would be meeting Isabella, his lady love of the past decade or so.
Was it really a decade? Sameer was reminiscing how he had come on an exchange programme from his Junior College to Switzerland. He was staying in Zurich, with a boy named Lucas. It was during that ten days’ period, that Sameer met Isabella, a student in Lucas’ college. Both of them became good friends and she took both Sameer and Lucas to her hometown, Spiez. Sameer could not help falling head over heels in love with that pretty town. It seemed just out of a fairy tale with a huge lake, lush green meadows, beautiful houses and picturesque winding roads. There began a beautiful friendship between the two. The same year Isabella too visited India, under the same exchange programme. Sameer took her around a few cities in India, as part of the project, and found it very endearing to see how fascinated Isabella was by India. She specially was taken in by the warmth, care and affection that she saw people sharing with each other. Coincidentally, it was the festive season; Diwali, the festival of lights, was being celebrated all over the country. Isabella had never seen anything like that before. She said that she could feel the throbbing of life in the country. Sameer was pleasantly surprised to see that, unlike most others, Isabella had no reservations about the crowd, noise or pollution.
Since then Isabella and Sameer steadily carried on with their friendship. During the course of their education Sameer went to visit her quite a few times and Isabella too came down to India, to attend Sameer’s sister’s wedding. As luck would have it, after his education, due to his extraordinary credentials, Sameer got his first job in a Swiss bank, with a posting in Switzerland. He was posted in Bern. For both Sameer and Isabella, this was nothing short of a miracle. Isabella had become a ballet teacher in the University of Zurich while she was also a part time skiing teacher. Dancing and Skiing, both were her passion, so every weekend she would go up to the magnificent Alps and teach students there.
Sameer and Isabella would get only the weekends to see each other. Many weekends, Sameer would join Isabella up at the Alps. Isabella would try to persuade him to try skiing but Sameer had a great phobia of falling. All sorts of assurances from Isabella did not work to help Sameer overcome his fear. But Isabella kept on trying and finally she did succeed in getting Sameer on to the ice. Sameer could not believe the day he could ski all by himself and when a beaming Isabella came to him with her arms outstretched, he held her and proposed to her. Without even blinking an eyelid, Isabella accepted his proposal and the two danced in joy.
As the train sped past the beautiful country, Sameer smiled at the thought of how he and Isabella were living in their own land of dreams. It was now a decade since they had first met, and over this time they had come to know each other really well. The train halted at Spiez and Sameer jumped out of the train. He knew Isabella would be at her skiing class. She did not know of his coming and he wanted to surprise her. He reached the class. It was quite a rough weather that day. The weather forecast was not too encouraging, so Isabella had cancelled her class. She was about to leave the place when she saw Sameer. She could not believe her eyes and they fell into each other’s arms. They had a strong urge to ski together and ignoring the strong winds, they set off on the ice. Enjoying the rush of adrenalin, they went quite far out when suddenly the winds got crazy, snow started falling, and they got trapped in a blizzard. Neither could they hear, nor could they see, each other. Like a whirlpool the blizzard trapped Sameer and blew him away. Isabella somehow managed to come out of it and reach the base, but where was Sameer? The blizzard continued for the next couple of hours, before it subsided. It was white all over. Isabella was screaming out for Sameer, looking for him here and there, but to no avail. She called for the search team and informed his bank too, who also rushed a team of people to look for Sameer. In spite of extensive search, Sameer was nowhere to be found.
Isabella was devastated. Where could Sameer disappear? For days she would come at the same place, looking for any trace of her beloved, but Sameer was untraceable. Every single day she would ski around till as far as she could, her eyes as if reaching beyound their limits of vision. This continued for days, months and the months changed to years; Sameer was not found, yet time could not extinguish the light of hope in her heart.
Twenty five years glided by. Isabella never shifted her base. She continued with both her passions. She was a renowned ballerina in the country and she got many invitations from universities in different parts of the world to join them, but Isabella always refused. She could never leave the place where Sameer had left her. She somehow knew in her heart that he would come back one day, and come back for sure.
Today was the day that Sameer had proposed to her, so many years back. Something churned within her heart. She had to perform that evening, in front of a prestigeous, foreign delegation visiting her country. Suddenly she had made up her mind. That day was to be the last day that she gave any public performance. She could dance no more. She was to perform the famous solo dance ‘The Dying Swan’ that evening.The curtain rose and there she was on the centre stage. She was exactly like what the French critic Andre Levinson later wrote about the performance:
“Arms folded, on tiptoe, she dreamily and slowly circles the stage. By even, gliding motions of the hands, returning to the background from whence she emerged, she seems to strive towards the horizon, as though a moment more and she will fly, exploring the confines of space with her soul. The tension gradually relaxes and she sinks to earth, arms waving faintly as in pain. Then faltering with irregular steps towards the edge of the stage - leg bones quiver like the strings of a harp - by one swift forward gliding motion of the right foot earth, she sinks on the left knee - the aerial creature struggling against earthly bonds; and there, transfixed by pain, she dies.”
There was pin drop silence in that huge auditorium. The performance was magical and, after a few moments, the deafening clapping almost shook the walls. Isabella came centre stage to take the final bow. Intuitively, her eyes turned to the side front of the audience and got transfixed there. There sat Sameer, motionless. Their eyes met and Isabella could not hold herself any longer. She slowly sank to the floor and fainted.
Isabella opened her eyes to find Sameer sitting next to her, holding her hand in the dressing room. The unmistakeable love brimming in his eyes filled her with a warm bliss. Sameer bent down and took her into her arms and pressed her tight to his heart.Time stood still for both of them. No one seemed to be in a hurry to speak; they just held each other by that intimate touch that erased all the years in between.
Isabella sat wide-eyed listening to Sameer’s story. Sameer was exceptionally brilliant with numbers. When he got the job with the Swiss bank, little did he know that he had actually been planted there to do some decoding, to get information about his fellow countrymen, who had stashed away their illegal money in the bank. His country wanted the money back and a plan was made whereby, through his assigned job, with the help of another mole in the same bank, many important and needed information got transferred. By the time he along with Isabella, were lost in the blizzard, the Swiss bank was getting suspicious of him, so when the mole with the search team found him almost frozen under the snow, without broadcasting the news, he transported him back to his country and publicly Sameer was untraceable. Back in his country, he was given a high rank job but with strict orders of having nothing whatsoever to do with Switzerland or anyone there, for a period of twenty five years. Ironically, he was given no option but to accept his predicament. Needless to say, he was constantly and closely monitored. The orders were unfair to him but he simply had to follow them. Now the day that ban expired, he had taken the flight to Zurich, where he knew in his heart that Isabella would be waiting for him.
Nothing mattered any more to either of them. Each of them had been so sure of the other, out there, waiting, that finding each other again was even more magical. They sat there, looking at each other, with only love in their eyes, not allowing even a single other thought to intrude upon their space. The Dying Swan had explored the confines of her soul and had merged with her mate, who held her by her hand as gently as ever, and guided her to the horizon of love.