The alchemist, Narcissus and suicide

# The Alchemist picked up a book that someone in the caravan had brought. Leafing through the pages, he found a story about Narcissus. The Alchemist knew the legend of Narcissus, a youth who daily knelt beside a lake to contemplate his own beauty. He was so fascinated by himself that, one morning, he fell at the lake and drowned. At the spot where he fell, a flower was born, which was called the narcissus.
But this was not how the author of the book ended the story.
He said that when Narcissus died, the Goddesses of the Forest appeared and found the lake, which had been fresh water, transformed into a lake of salty tears.
“Why do you weep?” the Goddesses asked.
“I weep for Narcissus,” the lake replied.
“Ah, it is no surprise that you weep for
Narcissus,” they said, “for though we always pursued him in the forest, you alone could contemplate his beauty close at hand.”
“But….. was Narcissus beautiful?” the lake asked.
“Who better than you to know that?” the
Goddesses said in wonder, “After all, it was by your banks that he knelt each day to contemplate himself!”
The lake was silent for some time. Finally it said:
“I weep for Narcissus, but I never noticed that Narcissus was beautiful. I weep because, each time he knelt beside my banks, I could see, in the depths of his eyes, my own beauty reflected.”
“What a lovely story,” the Alchemist thought.
- Paulo Coelho, the alchemist.

Did narcissus really fall at the lake by accident? This question has haunted me ever since I read the prologue of the much acclaimed book by Pualo Coelho.

In my humble opinion, this story needs another interpretation:

Narcissus was a beautiful boy and from the moment he became aware of his pulchritude he started admiring the reflection of his own effigy at the lake. He became so self obsessed that he began to descry some minute piddling changes on his youthful face. Flabbergasted he looked at his surrounding. The trees, shrubs, birds and the animals were also pervious to this very change. They all grow old, ugly and weak.
And then it dawned on him that change is the very essence of life. The beauty of which he was so proud won't be the same for a long time and he also would have to get succumbed to the wrath of time.
He got afraid. He came to know that with the ticking of time he was changing and he felt powerless to do anything to stop it. And then it finally occured to him that there is a way to stop this transitory essence of life. He looked at his reflection and contemplated his beauty for the last time as he realised that the thing he was going  to do would perhaps retain his comeliness.
The impermanence of his beauty and the obsession to cling on to his pulchritude made him jump into the cold lake and caress the warmth of the death.
But why did the lake cry. Well she was weeping not because the boy was dead, not because she wouldn't be able to admire herself in his eyes but because she wouldn't be able to stop the ticking of time like the way the boy had done. She now had to wait aloof for the time to do the damage.


Popular Posts