Suckers for a happy ending, that's what we humans are. It's in our nature, we make movies about it, sing songs about it, write books about it. But let's take a step back from what we want, leave the ever lasting love and happiness in Hollywood, and look into reality, or better yet folklore, where sometimes things don't work out as well.
In folklore, one can find tragedies that can open an abyss of pain. Social differences, or memory loss (the most exploited movie themes) are out of the question, these tales offer a different perspective that will leave you picking up the pieces of your heart from the floor.
The following love stories, or better yet, legends, will make you think Titanic had an excellent ending.
It begins with two neighboring families and their children. A boy and a girl, who spent most of their lives together. It all would have ended well, if a war didn't yank the twenty-two year old away from his home. When they said their goodbyes, she promised she would wait for him on the steep rock before the beach where they crowned their love, under the clear summer sky.
He swore to return, kissed her, and couldn't take his eyes off the girl he so desperately wanted to marry as the ship slowly left the port. Even when the ship was gone from the horizon, her eyes sunk into the deep blue see, still unable to believe he was gone.
From that moment on, the agonizing wait crushed the heart of the young woman, hoping for a telegram, a letter, anything to say he was all right. For the first year, she got a letter each month, but as another year went by without a word, life slowly begun draining from her heart.
She spent her days, even nights on the tiny cliff over the beach where they made love for the first time. Waiting for him, hoping the ship that took him away would return. The second year without a word, brought illness to her body. Raging inside of her, were the claws of tuberculosis she got from the cold nights on the hill in the winter.
For six months she hung on to life, until one night death finally won the battle. With her last strength, she asked for a stone statue to be placed where she used to stand, so her loved one could know she waited for him, and the flame of hope would burn inside his heart a bit longer.
And so they did. Three months after her death, a ship was nearing the small marine village. As it got closer, the boy's eyes strayed away from his duty, which was to spot hostile ships in the vicinity. Instead, his lonely heart couldn't look away from the figure of a woman, standing on the hill, their hill, just like she promised. His happiness was disturbed by a torpedo, hitting the large ship, that sank 15 minutes into the attack.
But he didn't give up, he swam for over two miles with only hope driving his fatigued body. Darkness, took over the small village once his wrinkled palms finally touched the sand of the beach he had dreamed of so many nights. With the last shred of fortitude, he climbed the hill where his knees betrayed him by the view. There, standing before him, was a concrete statue of his great love. Not able to contain it, a cry of pain, anger and profound sadness broke out of his lungs, almost reaching the sky.
When they found him, the next morning, passed out in front of the statue, they gave him a letter she wrote just before she died. She begged for his forgiveness, and that for the love of her, he must marry and have children. She never asked why he stopped writing, if she had only known ... That the woman he chose to marry, the postman's daughter, driven mad by jealousy, had held his letters for two years and just waited for her to die.
This next couple at least got married before tragedy knocked on their door. A love story betrayed by one brother's loyalty to his brothers.
It goes like this: In a small village there once lived a single mother with three sons. Fortune followed them most of their lives, they all found love and shared carriers as construction workers. Together through good and bad times, they pretty much had their hands full with work, building community objects, and private residences.
One day, word came in from their neighbors that the bridge, the shortest way out of their village, had once again collapsed. First, it was a flood, and next a thunderstorm struck, leveling it to the ground. Being the best in their village, the brothers decided to rebuilt it, one last time.
But when they got there, a strange old woman stood before the other bank of the river. She said, in order for the bridge to stand strong throughout the centuries, a sacrifice had to be made. A woman, one of three, must be entombed between the bricks. The choice remained theirs, but the deed had to be done.
Unwilling to sacrifice the mothers of their children, the brothers decided not to say anything about the incident to their wives, and whoever brought them lunch the next day, she would find her tomb in the wall. But fate was only on the mind of the youngest brother, the one who said nothing to his beloved.
While his siblings warned their wives not to come, the naive young man was biting his knuckles not to let out a word to his wife. The following day, when he laid eyes on his beautiful bride, carrying their lunch in a basket, ignorant of what was to come, he fell on his knees, begging his brothers to search for another solution.
Pointless cries of a desperate man, unable to stop the two savages from entombing the love of his life into the bridge. Seen how her fate was in their hands, she only made one request, that one of her breasts be left in the open, so her husband may bring their baby of two weeks, and nourish it.
The bridge is still in use, fiercely defying time for more than three centuries, it carries the name of the beautiful girl it swallowed during its reconstruction.
3. Vengeance instead of romance
An English playwright once wrote:
"Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned,"
After hearing the next two stories, I finally understood what he meant.
The first one, begins with a strong, young man who stole the hearts of many girls in his small town. One after another, each girl found abandonment by his side, becoming a witness to the emptiness inside his chest. But one day, he met a girl, a new dancer in the tavern he used to visit. She was beautiful, eyes like two emeralds, with long dark hair, the body of a goddess, and a smile that brought light to the ones before it.
However, what made him drool was her dance. Bold and fearless, just like her free spirited heart. It took him awhile to conquer her, but once she became his wife, the ice around his heart melted before the flame of love. Their first night as a husband and wife, was also the last, since a Vizier, desperately obsessed with the beautiful dancer, finally found the place where she had hidden.
Just as she was about to end her dance with a kiss, gently caressing his cheeks, his head remained between her palms. She watched, as the lifeless body fell over the bed, turning the sheets red almost instantly. The Vizier's men had beheaded the love of her life. She fell to her knees in agony, not able to say a word, while the pompous little Vizier splashed his arrogance around.
She was once again a slave, one in many women in the harem of a barbarian. But to him, she was much more, no woman he ever captured danced the way she did. So after her escape, he wanted her back, enraged he went on a quest to regain his lost gem. He took what was left of her to his palace, and put the head of her husband on a stake, so she could look at it all the time during the trip, and so it may serve as a reminder of what happened when someone tried to cross him.
The Vizier organized a feast, so he could celebrate his victory, claiming he took the head of one of the rebels. As a special guest star, he announced the best belly dancer in the country, after which he sat in his place, right next to the sultan.
There she was, doing what she loved the most, but what also made her a slave, swaying her body adorned in gold and silk. Sinking gradually into resentment, while the crowd of her enslaver cheered and roared to her every move. Slowly she neared the Vizier, she climbed the table and sensually crawled right in front of him. He could feel the heady fragrances from her body, as she caressed his cheek with one hand. But what came as a surprise, was the dagger she used to slit his throat.
Covered in his blood, she ripped the rest of his head right off his corpse, and threw it into the sultan's lap. Having avenged the death of her lover, she plunged the knife into her heart of stone, and fell lifeless on the marble floor.
4. Heart of stone
They say there is not deeper bond than the one made by blood: a parent's love for their children. But then again, some parents know no limits when it comes to overprotecting, and smothering their children with care.
Such is the next story, of a mother that just couldn't keep her fingers off her son's life. How could she? Having heard what the three fates had in store for the little guy, the third night after he was born. They spoke of two women, one that would bring him a great tragedy, and other whose heart he would turn into stone. In fear for the boy's life, she hovered over him, and the choices he made around his future wife.
On the other hand, the boy paid little mind to his mother's constant criticism, one girl was too short, other too slender, the third didn't match his social standing etc. He loved all the ladies in his life, but only one of them caused an electric spark each time he saw her. It was the daughter of the village shaman, a woman who was renown as a healer. The young girl and her mother lived in a tiny house just outside the village. As witness to her mother's deeds in the service of others, she grew up to be a virtuous, righteous being.
She would spend her days on the river bank, enjoying nature, dreaming of the day she would fall in love. Soon enough, that day came, along with her twenty third birthday. Washing laundry in the crystal water, she was completely oblivious to the fact that a certain someone burned with desire to talk to her. Unable to resist it, he came closer to observe how the white dress complemented her figure, while she struggled to keep her long dark hair from getting wet.
With the look of a frightened gazelle, she turned and saw him, a smooth, charming gentleman with clear eyes, and an enchanting smile. At that moment, she knew she loved him even before she met him. A year went by, and the young man wanted to marry his new found love, so he arranged a dinner, for their parents to get acquainted.
Once his mother laid eyes on the village witch and her spawn, terror came over her mind. She finally met the two women from the three fates' tale, or at least that was what she thought. Somehow, she suppressed her fear, since she knew her son wouldn't listen to her screams and protests, she decided to play along. Acting like a supportive mother, while a scheme how to break their bond unraveled in her twisted mind.
She prayed upon her son's faith in God, arranging for him to find bad omens whenever he wanted to visit his beloved. From a dead rat, he failed to notice, to a slaughtered lamb, splattered all over the small country road. What really got his attention, was the last omen his mother set up for him to see. Under the root of the tallest tree of his fiancée's yard, the old woman had, with the help of her neighbor's daughter (a girl desperately in love with her son) placed a snake lair for him to stumble upon.
When he saw the last of his mother's atrocities, taking everything he saw as a message from God, he told everything to his dear, old mother. And mommy knew what buttons to push. "Enraged" her son got duped by an evil witch and her daughter, she forged an appalling plan, before the eyes and ears of her horrified son.
With their wedding due in just one day, the beaming young girl was taking care of her mother's plants, when she saw a large group of people from the neighboring villages, entering her community. All dressed up, carrying gifts in their hands, and smiles on their faces. Curiosity got to her, so she followed the crowd to the church. Inside, a sight from her nightmares, the masterpiece of the old, chuckling matron.
The mother's plan was simple, and she couldn't resist basking in her victory. Her son was supposed to let his fiancée know he was marrying another, after the wedding, but his mother had other plans. Wanting to show the world how she slayed Satan, how she managed to outwit even the three fates, she invited many guests from the other villages, knowing they would pass right next to the house of the witch.
The naive young girl was now facing a nightmare of pain and anguish, her fiancée, marrying another woman. She felt every single cell inside of her heart dying, rotting with pain, anger, hatred. With a rock in the place where her heart used to be, a single tear rolled down her pale cheek. When they all laid eyes on her misery, another set of eyes were plagued by sadness - the eyes of the groom. Just when he wanted to say a word, the one he loved, the girl he was supposed to marry, only said three words, before her pain turned everyone present into stone: "You all lied"
There you have them, tragedies from the Balkans left untold, buried under layers and layers of Hollywood drama I am personally sick of. I hope you enjoyed them and once again, I am sorry for the long post.