Saturday, May 05, 2007

Narcissus

[This is anything but fiction]

Narcissus was born inside a mirror. Many people who came to see the baby were disturbed on not being able to take it in their arms. They didn’t have access to the other side of the glass and so was the case with Narcissus. What, however, frightened them even more was their own absence inside the mirror. As if the mirror was a barrier between them and the baby. They realized later that the mirror itself was Narcissus’ mother and like all mothers it protected the child from the big, bad world.

Time passed and the town grew up with Narcissus. And Narcissus grew up with the townsfolk. Some claimed they cared for Narcissus much more deeply than they did for their own sons and daughters. They had watched him smile, weep and celebrate. Silently. Narcissus was deaf, for there was no sound on the other side of the glass. But all the same Narcissus was a beautiful baby right from the day he was born. The townsfolk could forget all their incompetence and incompleteness as they watched him smile. When he wept, unable to provide him with the warmth of the human touch, they recognized their incompetence. And as he celebrated his personal world on the other side of the glass, they became yet more incomplete. And then, he smiled again.

But as he grew up, people realized that Narcissus had become more powerful than the mirror. His beauty had overgrown the space on his side of the glass and now spilled on to this side. He had imposed himself inside the head of the townsfolk and went with them to all the places they went. There were people in the town. He watched each other with their eyes; smelled how each had its own fragrance; felt each one breathing on the other’s skin; but most importantly, for the first time, he heard voices. Voices inside their head. Voices, undesirable.

Voices, undeniable.

In their growing frenzy, he found that each claimed that Narcissus was in their head. They also claimed that he wasn’t present in anyone else’s head. Each claimed that he owned Narcissus, now. At these times Narcissus wished he could speak. No, he couldn’t. But he had other powers. He knew all of them would have to slee……

I couldn’t complete the story last night; so, I slept. Or perhaps, I couldn’t complete my story last night because I fell asleep. It was a sound sleep. A sound that was unbearable. A strange form of silence. It crashed into itself a thousand times creating even smaller grains of silence, each of which was the mirror image of the other. And the only thing I noticed as I slept was that the silence became deafening. Even when I woke up in the morning the silence reverberated in my ears.

I woke up to find myself on my writing desk. The pieces of paper on which I had been writing were scattered all over the floor. They were the different parts of the story. I remembered that I had written the beginning and the end of the story; also, many of the parts in the middle. Last night, as I wrote I had been assembling the pages in their correct sequence. So that when I finished writing all the parts all I had to do was connect the separate pages with the appropriate verbs and conjunctions. But that was not to be. A wild wind last night had scrambled all that I had wrote. I got up from my chair to pick up the sheets and I saw myself in the mirror.

“Where is Narcissus?” was the first question I had to ask myself.

“Where am I?” I had to ask myself, then.

“Why was I present where he should have been?”

“Maybe, he is present now, where I should have been.”

Slowly, it occurred to me that the replacement was complete. I was Narcissus, now. The man whose smile was oblivion; whose silence was music and who was more powerful than the mirror. I was so glad with this revelation that I suddenly felt the urge of letting the world know who I had become. Narcissus, the almighty. I put on a dress and went out.

Once on the streets I started feeling as if I was walking through the mirror. I found Narcissus everywhere. I met thousands of Narcissuses on the streets. The entire town had transformed. They had turned into him.

I had, too. I had become a part of the collective him. Identity-less. Like ants. Not an individual anymore.

And yet I couldn’t hate that face. It was mine.

Then, weeks passed…… like soldiers, marching. In synchronization with each other. And in these weeks I found my story getting completed gradually. One of the Narcissuses would come and write a paragraph or two and go away. Another would come to pick up from where he had left. When the story was finished I suddenly realized that there was only one character in the story: myself.

And there could be only one reader: Narcissus.

Somehow, it all seemed so futile. I had written a story on which I had no control. It became what it wanted to be. But not what I wanted it to become. I wanted it to have all the beauty and the brevity that each of my other story had. But not all stories that are finished, complete. As for this one it became the more incomplete the closer it came to its completion. I sat down in my darkened room that night and wept. I have created a crooked child.

And in my crooked mirror the Narcissus that was me wept as well. He no longer had that common face. He looked different in every mirror of the separate houses. He would have to assume the face of the person who used to live in that house before he had transformed into Narcissus.

It is true that as Narcissuses we have all become creators more powerful than the mirror – We can steal the identity of the person living on the other side of the glass.

Amen.

2 comments:

calamity said...

i like the myth of Narcissus, actually i love all of the old greek literature
and your posts...they go even beyond that. each time i read a post os yours i feel like i'd been given a gift

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