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Since Maria had retrieved Amira, they lived side by side in a more compatible way. Each would speak at different times. Maria could now distinguish the two and choose which one would get a voice. Previously, she had trouble even recognising who was who. It was a satisfactory arrangement although both knew that, in the end, one of them was going to win. Although Amira was many times more powerful, it was part of the arrangement that she would not be allowed to come forward unless invited by Maria. Maria had to grow into Amira.

When Amira first entered Maria, Amira acquired all of Maria’s memories, tendencies, longings, and pains. She also took on the collective memories, tendencies, longings, and pains of humanity, as we all do. Amira had to work with what she had inherited and Maria had to learn to want Amira freely. There was no hurry. The destination was sure. The timing was up to Maria.

Gabriel was back. Maria asked him what he had been doing in the city.

“Not much,” was the extent of Gabriel’s reply.

He was back, but he was back in a different way. He was more directive. He, sometimes, got angry with Maria. It wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. It meant that he trusted that she would still be there.

Sometimes, when he wanted to put her in her place, he would say, “You are young. You have barely been away from Waldmeer. You have never even had a boyfriend. No offence, Maria, but there are lots of things you have no idea about.” To make sure that she got the point, he added with less restraint, “And half the time you live in a fantasy world. God only knows where.”

Maria didn’t mind. She had a power inside her. Who needs to quibble about details? Maria had the feeling that Amira’s temporary departure from her life was not the only cause of Gabriel’s recent absence.

“Look, Maria,” Gabriel said one afternoon, “I am a straight forward person. We all have friends. I have many. And you are entitled to be friends with whoever you want but I don’t like Farkas. I don’t trust him. If you want to be friends with him, don’t expect too much from me.”

“Gabriel, I don’t see Farkas anymore,” said Maria.

Gabriel took no notice whatsoever of her reply. It didn’t seem to matter if she saw him or not. Maria tried to make light of the situation and made a joke. Gabriel didn’t laugh. She put her hand on his shoulder and said, “Everything is fine. Please don’t worry about this.” Gabriel removed her hand. She tried being firm, “This is silly.”

“I don’t think so,” said Gabriel.

An advantage of having Amira back was that Maria found it was not as necessary to make the trip to the Leleks to see Erdo as often as she used to. She could simply start tuning into Amira. One evening on the beach, she did just this about her recent conversation with Gabriel.

“This seems to me a no-win situation,” said Maria. “I want Gabriel to be happy but to make him happy, I have to accept his way of seeing life and that has problems. Besides, will it even make him happy? I doubt it.”

“True,” said Amira. “We all see a different reality and we will make decisions based on what we see. Everyone is trying to protect their interests in the best way that they can. The world is commonly viewed as a place where someone must lose in order for someone else to win. It’s a competition with winners and losers. This is particularly so in one’s most valued relationships.”

The sea was gentle this evening. The waves were regular and soothing.

“You must know in your own heart,” Amira continued, “that there is an overriding Love which loves everyone. Life is not a competition. No one has to lose for someone else to win. A true blessing blesses everyone. A fragmented love which makes others lose will eventually turn upon itself and destroy the very thing which was being so carefully guarded. An open-hearted love will follow a course which can only lead somewhere good. Know that for yourself. Know it for Gabriel. And know it for everyone else, without exception.”

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