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The Unbearable Lightness of Being (part 4 chapter 21)

2006-08-22 20:21

  21

  She kept picturing the following scene: She had come out of the toilet and her body was standing in the anteroom naked and spurned. Her soul was trembling, terrified, buried in the depths of her bowels. If at that moment the man in the inner room had addressed her soul, she would have burst out crying and fallen into his arms.

  She imagined what it would have been like if the woman standing in the anteroom had been one of Tomas's mistresses and if the man inside had been Tomas. All he would have had to do was say one word, a single word, and the girl would have thrown her arms around him and wept.

  Tereza knew what happens during the moment love is born: the woman cannot resist the voice calling forth her terrified soul; the man cannot resist the woman whose soul thus responds to his voice. Tomas had no defense against the lure of love, and Tereza feared for him every minute of every hour.

  What weapons did she have at her disposal? None but her fidelity. And she offered him that at the very outset, the very first day, as if aware she had nothing more to give. Their love was an oddly asymmetrical construction: it was supported by the absolute certainty of her fidelity like a gigantic edifice supported by a single column.

  Before long, the crow stopped flapping its wings, and gave no more than the twitch of a broken, mangled leg. Tereza refused to be separated from it. She could have been keeping vigil over a dying sister. In the end, however, she did step into the kitchen for a bite to eat.

  When she returned, the crow was dead.

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