Somaratne liked to go near the river and watch the water flow. When Somaratne went near the river and sat for hours, passersby thought that what he was doing was a waste of time. As for Somaratne, he didn’t know any other way of doing anything other than being absolutely involved in it. He was a master at finding solutions to his problems. He found these solutions when he went near the river and switched on his thinking cap.
When he went to the river, he always remembered his childhood. He recalled how mothers used to tell kids to think of flowing taps and rivers when they had difficulty in urinating. When a person urinates, the whole body relaxes and releases itself. Now he could relax and release himself without having to urinate. It took him a long time to master this technique.
He was often happy with himself, but there were days when he was not. He wasn’t married. When he saw married couples come near the river, jealousy popped up like lust in the mind of a perverted man. He had no other fault, but this flaw stuck out like a sore thumb. When he was jealous he couldn’t hide it.
Since recently, a couple used to frequent the river. They used to come there, but never held hands. Somaratne stole glances at this couple. They often spoke for hours, but most conversations ended in arguments. They didn’t seem to get along, but they gave no signs of breaking up.
One day, the girl came there before the boy. Somaratne was there and he smiled at the girl. She returned the smile with warmth. She sat near the river and was seen absorbed in thought. Somaratne had his jealous ways, but like all who came to the river, he didn’t disturb her.
The boy failed to come that day. She spent about an hour that day at the river and returned the next day as well. She was alone again. Somaratne thought he should speak to her. But he waited till she finished her little session near the river. When she looked up and got up to go, Somaratne said hello.
“Where is your boyfriend,” he queried.
“He’s not my boyfriend. Just a good friend,” she said.
Somaratne apologized. She said it was ok.
“I like to talk with you,” he said.
“Tell me,” she said.
“Where do you stay,” came the second question.
“Second Cross Street, Mandana Town,” she replied.
“Why do you come here often,” he asked.
“Can you get to the next question,” she said.
He knew he had asked a stupid question.
He looked at her observantly. She didn’t look uncomfortable being in his presence. He asked whether she liked to have a cup of tea. She said she didn’t drink tea. “Won’t you tell me your name,” he asked. “Madushi,” came the reply.
Somaratne asked Madushi what type of relationship she had with the man who accompanied him to the river. She said it was a brotherly relationship. Somaratne didn’t believe it. “It’s up to you to trust a person or not,” she said.
“I have a question,” he said.
“Ask,” she responded.
“Did you fancy him,” he asked.
“Yes and no,” she said.
Their conversation was punctuated by a brief moment of silence.
“I know you are confused,” she said.
She said that he was a good man, but wasn’t suitable for marriage.
“But then…… what happened,” he queried.
“I’ll tell you,” she said.
She said that he didn’t take liquor, smoke nor go out for parties.
“I didn’t want to be married to a monk,” she said.
Madushi said that the guy was spiritual-minded and didn’t tell a lie even to defuse a challenging situation. She said she hadn’t given him any hopes and used the period he was with him to observe men. Madushi was outgoing and didn’t want to impose any unwanted restrictions on her life. She saw that she was not going to make progress in life if she had started a steady relationship with him.
Somaratne didn’t see much of a difference between this guy and himself. He knew he had to change, but he didn’t know how. He knew that a person could change built in characteristics only a little, during one lifetime.
She excused herself and got up to go. He said he’ll remain at the bank of the river for some more time. The river had just enough water and what he saw pleasing to the eye. He thought he should find the right balance in life like the water in the river.