Heathcliff

Once I said, half-joking, that you reminded me of Heathcliff, the dark but loving, passionate but sombre, vulnerable yet aggressive, lover of Wuthering Heights I don’t think you’ve read the book, for the only word you  retained was “gipsy”; you laughed and said I was not the first person who called you that, because of your raven black hair, that sometimes had a wild look about it; your dark eyes, aquiline nose, tall figure and reserved, sometimes even unpleasant, manner.

 

That was a time when I was  Cathy to your Heathcliff; by then I only had vague memories of the story, that I recalled as a highly romantic, albeit sad, one, that of a forbidden love; and then a friend told me it was not that romantic, rather more tragic, and I felt this urge to read it again to check who was right, or maybe just to confirm my first impression.

 

I have been reading the book and enjoying it very much, but I have to say my feelings towards have changed. It’s only natural, taking into account that more than forty years have passed, and the romantic, naïve girl I was then has turned into a middle-aged woman, still romantic – I’ll die as one – but somewhat disappointed with love.

 

I do think you have a Heathcliff side in you, in that I haven’t changed. A side that was not there when we first started and that darker side of you was only perceptible, and I – naïve, again – thought it was a thing of the past, of your former loves, that now, with me it would be different. It was – up to a certain point. Then that dark, depressed, angry side began to appear, slowly but steadily, until it became not the exception, but the norm. And you were Heathcliff more and more, in your sombre moods, your blunt manners, your withdrawal whenever you wanted to avoid discussing something important.

 

Now that I’ve been reading the book, and recalling the ill-fated story of the two lovers, I conclude that the events leading to the tragedy were due to a terrible misunderstanding. Heathcliff and Cathy grow up together, developing a strong, deep affection for each other. They are inseparable, roaming the moors together. She is the pampered daughter of the house; he is a gipsy foundling taken in by her father, who treats him like family. However, when Cathy’s father dies her brother relegates Heathcliff to the condition of a servant, demeaning him in all ways possible;  doing everything in his power to bring Cathy and the son of a neighbouring house together, so that they may marry and unite the two families. Cathy lets herself be courted. Heathcliff, in despair, thinking his love for Cathy is not reciprocated, leaves without a word, only reappearing years later, a wealthy man, thirsty for revenge. Cathy, who loved him passionately after all, has married without love, convinced he is lost to her forever.  When he returns, she is on the verge of madness, and dies within days, leaving him even darker, more cruel, bent on revenge against the world that has taken away his precious love.

 

Back to us, I wonder. Maybe the last times of our relationship, and our breakup, are also the result of, if not misunderstanding, at least lack of communication. Maybe, like Cathy, I never let you know how much I cared, what you meant to me, and maybe you, just like Heathcliff, decided to leave on a spur of a moment and were too proud to retrace your steps. Like Cathy, I probably didn’t realize the depth of my feelings until the moment I lost you; like Heathcliff, you keep a stern face when you are near me, but I wonder what emotions are stirred beyond that impassable façade.

 

Cathy died and then it was too late for their love. She came to him in his dreams. If ever I haunt yours, remember I’m still here, at the reach of a phone call. As Kate Bush sings in the song “Wuthering Heights” that I heard so much in my youth, Cathy calls for Heathcliff, in the night, saying she has come home. If you hear me calling too,  who knows… maybe you can open the window of your heart and let me in again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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