He took a deep breath, another deep breath, and paused for a minute. He held her hand tightly in his and spoke to her in a clear tone, ‘Emma. I love you. I will love you forever. You are the sweetest thing that happened to me. You will be in my prayers, in my thoughts forever. But what you desire, I cannot fulfil.’
Emma pulled her hand and a tear rolled from her cheek. ‘You do not love me.’ There was pain in her voice.
‘I do. But my definition of love is entirely different. Sorry, but I cannot do what you want. Not because I am scared of wronging my duty, but because I do not see that way. I am a priest, and I love you. Nothing will change that. To me, love is platonic. I am thankful that you showed me a different side of love altogether. Without you, it would not have been possible. It helps me now to understand God better and to serve him better. You are so lucky that you are gifted with such a beautiful face and a radiant smile bringing hope and love to all those who look at you, including me. I see God in you. I see his love in you.’
Emma moved forward and kissed him on his lips. Her lips touched his for few brief seconds, then she pulled her lips away. ‘Isn’t this love too? Do you feel my love in this?’ She asked.
‘Yes. I did.’ He replied looking into her eyes.
She kissed him again. This time, she allowed her lips to play with his lips. But he did not respond.
‘This is not love.’ He said withdrawing from her.
Emma sighed. ‘Come to me, and you would know what I am talking about. This too is love.’
For a minute Carlos thought he was somewhere else, but he quickly regained himself and stood up to leave.
He looked back at Emma and said, ‘My love for you is way pure. I don’t want to malign it. I want you as a memory of a pure, beautiful and innocent Emma who made me see another facet of life. You stand as an impeccable and divine goddess in my mind. And so you will, always. I love you, my dearest Emma. Wherever you go, I wish you the best of the wishes. You will be in my thoughts and in my prayers. I will pray for your happiness. I will also pray that you find a good companion who can return your love the way you want to.’
Early next month, Father Carlos Munevar confessed his obsession about Emma to the High priest, but before he could finish the entire statement, the high priest smiled, nodded and said, ‘I know already.’
Father Carlos was perplexed. ‘You do not understand Father. I sinned. I haven’t seen Emma after that. She never came to the mass, nor to the confession box. She is not answering my calls. I have hurt her. I gave her hope, and I took that away brutally. I gave her pain. I am the reason for her suffering.’
The high Priest patted on his shoulder, ‘Do not worry boy, she will be fine. One day she will understand your feelings for her. And if she doesn’t, then she has not yet grown up.’
‘I want to see her Father, once smiling.’
‘Don’t you see her every day, in your imagination, in your memories, when you pray, when you deliver the sermons?
‘I do. But I also feel guilty.’
‘You should not. I talked to her. She would do fine.’
‘You did? What did she say?’
‘None of your concern anymore.’
They were taking quick steps as they talked. The High priest stopped and looked him into the eye, ‘My dear Carlos, do not be guilty. You have loved her in the purest way. And I know you will keep loving her the rest of your life. You have understood love the way men do not understand. And that is fine. Loving someone is not a crime. It is a beautiful emotion that we humans are capable of naturally. But a lot of us have expectations, we want to be loved back with the same intensity we love. We become possessive, insecure and we hurt in all this process. I do not blame Emma. Her love for you is also true. And in love, we all get hurt at one point or the other, don’t we? And it takes time to understand the true nature of love. Love is all encompassing and an embodiment of God. Few people understand it quickly, few take time to understand. Let us pray for her. That’s all I can say. You have a bigger responsibility, and I can only assume that she understands that. She probably will never meet you. That is what she said. The two wonderful people you both are, I know you will keep loving each other until the end of your life. You will pray for each other and you will wish happiness to each other.’
Father Carlos nodded. It was best for Emma that they do not meet. And the High Priest was right, he would never stop loving her.
The High priest would always tell this story to his protégées, clergymen, and pupils and also include in his sermons. He would sum it up, what he called the devil’s language: Sometimes, the devil comes in the purest form to shake your beliefs and divert you from your path of service. It would come as love to fuck you. You be undeterred, and you will see that it has got itself fucked up.
Father Carlos Munevar became the High Priest in the next three years. There wasn’t a single day he did not think of Emma or prayed for her.