In the days before telecommunications

In the days before telecommunications, true love itself was enough. A woman left at home would close her eyes and the power of her need would enable her to see her man on his ocean ship battling pirates with cutlass and pistol, her man in the battle’s fray with his sword and shield, standing victorious among the corpses on some foreign field, her man crossing a distant desert whose sands were on fire, her man amid mountain peaks, drinking the driven snow. So long as he lived she would follow his journey, she would know the day-by-day of it, the hour -by-hour, would feel his elation and his grief, would fight temptation with him and with him rejoice in the beauty of the world; and if he died a spear of love would fly back across the world to pierce her waiting, omniscient heart. It would be the same for him. In the midst of the desert’s fire he would feel her cool hand on his cheek and in the heat of battle she would murmur words of love into his ear: live, live. And more: he would know her dailiness too, her moods, her illnesses, her labours, her loneliness, her thoughts. The bond of their communion would never break. That was what the stories said about love. That was what human beings knew love to be.

Salman Rushdie, in Shalimar the Clown.

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