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Quintus Senevibandara Athaudha

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10 / B 73 Raddolugama, Sri Lanka

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The Silence

by

Quintus Senevibandara Athaudha



It was a coincidence.

She stepped back.
"It's you", she said.

I was stupefied.
A tide surged and lashed on the beach.

My lips wouldn't open.
I stared at her eyes.

They were open
like two windows without bars.

I could feel the tremor of the earth
below my feet.

Two plates were converging at each other
and I in the fault line.

She closed her eyes
and , I, my eyes too.

A silence reigned outside.

I stepped to a side,
She followed instinctively.

We walked side by side
Our little fingers touched softly
except when we paced
to avoid the fallen dry "Bo" leaves
scattered on the cobbled road.

We walked
side by side
our bodies barely touching
like two *"Bo" leaves
floating down stream in the **"Yoda ela".

I stopped,
At*** "Shanthi Vihar Inn"
and looked at her.

Then we entered
and sat down
at a table laid with a white cloth.

She placed her elbows
clasping her palms in prayer
covering the middle of her face.

I could see her trembling.

We waited, waited , waited
until she murmured,
"But you never said__.."

I pulled out my thin wallet
and drew out a weather beaten tiny white envelope.
On it, was the word "Devotion"
in her own handwriting

I crept my trembling fingers in,
took out the lock of hair.
and placed it on my palm

Her lower lip quivered
Her head collapsed
on the white table cloth.
My fingers stroked her hair as if untouching.

"It's because I was too elder"
"It 's because, I loved you so much,
"It's because I wanted to posses you in my heart for ever
that I didn't tell you so"

She listened.
She listened to the silence
To the silence that kept us apart.

Then she raised her head.
Tears rolling down her eyes,
opened her handbag.
She heaved a sigh.
"It' s thirty two years since we parted,
the pen I wrote down your poems
has never run dry"
She placed it lightly on the envelope.

We listened to the silence
With our eyes closed.
For a long, long time.

*"Bo’ a sacred tree for Buddhists:
**’Yoda Ala’-an ancient canal in Anuradapura of which the gradient of water is a mile to an inch .The name brings reminiscences of an ancient irrigation culture in Sri lanka
*** A vegetarian hotel situated near the UN office in Colombo