Of course we all suffer,’ Priya often told her. ‘But if you cling to suffering or fight it then it will hold on like a rat. If you accept it’s existence and the pain it causes you, then you can release it’.

We are none of us one thing alone and unchanging. We are not static, or at rest. Just as a city or a prince’s court or a lineage is many people in one, so is a person many people within one, always unfinished and always like a river’s current flowing onward ever changing toward the ocean that is greater than all things combined.

But the plains do not continue forever, just as happiness and sorrow both eventually come to an end. Their first hint of the highlands was a rough stretch of land pitted with gorges and rugged valleys that were barren of cover and composed of rock as stubborn and sharp and unyielding as a saint. The jaran playfully called it krinye-tom, the little mountains; Tess called it hell and wondered what the big mountains were like.

When acquaintances embrace, one can read the gap between them. When friends, when siblings embrace, no matter how close, there is still an infinitesimal distance, like a layer of molecules, separating them. When a mother hugs her child, they meet. But when lovers embrace, they don’t just meet but join. Tess

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