The Woman with Many Faces
She would sing by the yellow lake, carving stories on the ever-changing canvas of the wet sand. She would mesmerize those who were fortunate enough to make her acquaintance. To find her in moments of dismay, men would pass legions of armies and travel countries. They all murmured stories about her; stories that would unleash pathways to separate worlds with each passing man. Men with ages behind them would exchange wisdom with her to give reason to her existence. Sadly, each one would return with a story of his own. She was the veiled poetry, and to each man, she gave a unique sense of peace. She was the woman with many faces.
“Tell me, how would you describe her?” I asked them all and to my surprise, not one of those fortunate men could be definite. Their stories would always be different, but magnificent.
“Tell me, would you describe her as a fable or a sonnet?” I asked the poet, for her beauty was his to write.
“A book she was, sire; insightful and omniscient. A book she was; remarkably parallel to the Shakespearean dreams. To hail her as a fable or a sonnet would be a sin, for the words that could bind her are yet to be born. If she were a fable, she’d be the grandest of them all. If she were a sonnet, she’d never cease to amaze. But she was neither. Like a book, she withheld inside her core, secrets of the ancient grand. If only she were endless, like the swift Brooke.”
If only she were definite, like death.
“But I only intend to mask her elegance in words. Ask the painter.” He exclaimed. “He claims to have discovered the colors that might capture her mystery.”
I turned to the painter for answers, then. To paint a woman with many faces is no job for a common man.
“Tell me, would you paint her as a queen or a harlot?” I asked him, as he tainted the canvas with his brush.
“Neither.” He exclaimed. “For a queen must never surrender to love like she did and a harlot would seldom be loved in this world of hatred. She was like a summer night; one that flaunted its dominance, for the mighty sun had to bow to acknowledge her. She was the light of the sun, sailing to the moon hoping for an endless flight.”
Ah, the men of art. They worship the imaginary, yet fail to cherish what lies before them.
“The men by the bars might give rest to your journey.” The painter said. “They merely greet their senses, but in moments of insanity, they rise.”
I wandered to the bars, far below the class of men that I was familiar with. Sometimes, men with no status are the wisest of them all.
“Would you say that she is real or a fantasy?” I asked a man with a cup full of wine and a heart full of misery.
“A dream, she was; delusive when she smiled. Without the slightest hint of the upcoming dawn, she talked for hours, only to give stories to the hearts that wandered. Boundless she was when drunk, like the outlaw winds; only more beautiful. Fantasia often lent joy from her, to satiate its hunger for ecstasy. In a sacred place, where an honest man would dare not scream, she dared to sin and never ask for forgiveness.”
He raised the glass and rejoiced in her presence, as I watched hope escape through my eyes.
A woman with many faces, she was. But to influence such men and render them hopeless, she must have possessed secrets of the Mithras, I thought.
In this search for the language of her existence, I grew tired. The woman, indeed, had many faces. A rare misfortune it was, to not have stumbled upon her. A fortunate mishap I believe, for I would’ve been just another man who would murmur his own story about her.
To the oracles, I must surrender then, I thought. In the wake of the rising agony that accompanied her stories, I had to.
“Come, oh troubled man. You seek answers, and in our lands, you shall find them.” They offered me the long awaited peace.
“Tell me, how do I describe such a woman who has no definite existence? She has many faces, I hear.”
“She was the blessed end, my son; the end where the poets began. Modest like a queen in a game of kings, she was worthy of her name. The men who shared their fables with you were troubled men, seeking solace in the arms of a woman. Their sentiments led to their destruction. She was merely a woman with the sun on her side and the moon beneath her fair skin. For men, she masqueraded as a rescue; an escape. In her embrace, they sentenced their fears, and their regrets to oblivion.”
“But why the different faces?” Impatience had me starving for answers.
“What a man admired in her was a mere reflection of what his heart ached for. She was no more than an interface between the men and their dreams. As significant as that may sound, she intended only to rise with those men, on pedestals so grand that whatever fears that plagued the men stood dwarfed. She bound the imagination of the poets in her skin and bones, for inspiration lied awake inside her. The painter still falsely claims to have found the colors to paint her. The men at the bars drink, only to rejoice and mask her memories whereas the pirates sail infinitely to the end of the world, in search for someone like her.”
Cursed was the first man who found her. Cursed were the others, who chose her.
“Remember, a woman always strives to bind the hopes of a man, spin them and weave them into something beautiful. And she was the finest of them all. She lent her dreams to those who wandered without one and upon encounters with men who had a dream, she offered to dream together. She did not have many faces, but the one. The one face that offered love to those who starved for peace; the one face that held the secrets of her many lovers. She had the one face; the most beautiful one. It was upon the men to admire her, but they chose to suffer for her. What path you shall follow is upon your wise judgment. I dare not inflict fear within your heart, for I believe that someday, a man shall possess all her secrets and love her for the woman she is. But that day has yet to come and until the dawn of such a day, men like you will rejoice and drink to remember her fondly; as the woman who had many faces.”