From the east to the west, never any other direction. Always from the east, towards the west. The clear waters softly meander down the side of this mountain, as they have since the days of our forefathers.
It’s sound is beautiful. If I could taste the sound, I would imagine it would taste like clouds. Mother laughed at me when I told her. Silly child, she says. But the smile doesn’t reach her eyes. She doesn’t say it, but Mama is worried that I will not get a husband because I am not like the others.
The trees by the river are high! If I could only climb them, I could see the whole valley!! But father forbid me from ever doing that again. So know, I must be content with only the whistle of the wind as the trees softly sway to a music only they can hear. I close my eyes and imagine myself moving, swaying ever so gently, belonging.
Mother wonders why I am always by the river. She sends me for water and nary does a word of complaint pass my lips, unlike my sisters who vomit reasons not to go without blinking. How do I tell her that the river speaks without sounding like the village idiot? How do I tell her that true wisdom lies in the river? She already regards me as a disgrace. That has to be enough for now.
It was to the river that I ran when Grandmother passed on. Everyone else was drenched in sorrow and no one even noticed my absence. I ran through the bush, not as careful as I should have been, but I paid no mind to the scratches . The river was soothing, flowing as it always did. Softly, gently, easily, as though it was any other day. But it wasn’t! I got mad. I got so mad, that I started flailing rocks, as though that would disrupt it’s flow. How dare it flow like I hadn’t lost the only person who understood me? How dare it?! It should have run from the west. Just for a day. Or the water should have ceased to flow all together. It should have stood still, apalled by the loss of a great woman.
My tears flowed into the river that day. My cries were swallowed by the gurgling water and carried away in the wind. I was comforted.
By this river, I have cried.
By this river, I have laughed.
By this river, I grew up.
By this river, I grow old.
By this river, I knew love.
By this river, I live life.
By this river, this river that gives life, I give my life every day;old and tattered, and in return, I live life renewed.
Let the living waters flow over my soul.