Orpheus and Eurydice

I do not know how many of you have read this lovely story of Orpheus and Eurydice that ends in tragedy. I am repeating this story for the benefit of my readers as this mythological incident teaches us something important.

If anyone who reads the story wonders what we learn or why Orpheus failed to regain Eurydice in his memorably journey to Hades or the so called netherworld, it will come back to two simple words.

It teaches us how important it is to use faith and patience as our two legs in our journeys, and if you use them well, you will reach your intended destination with the person whom you set out with…

Source: www.greeka.com

Orpheus is known as the most talented music player of the ancient times. It is said that god Apollo was his father, from whom he took his extreme talent in music, and the Muse Calliope was his mother. He was living in Thrace, on the northeastern part of Greece. Orpheus had a divinely gifted voice that could charm everyone who heard it. When he was presented first the lyre, as a boy, he had it mastered in no time at all.

The myth says that no god or mortal could resist his music and even the rocks and trees would move themselves to be near him.

Humans and beasts alike would be enchanted by it and often even the most inanimate of objects would yearn to be near him. Well into his youth he had mastered the lyre and his melodious voice garnered him audiences from near and afar.

It was at one such gathering of humans and beasts that his eyes fell on a wood nymph. The girl was called Eurydice,who was beautiful and shy. She had been drawn to Orpheus enamored by his voice and such was the spell of beauty in music and appearance that neither could cast their eyes off each other. Something inexplicable tugged the hearts of the two young people and soon they fell dearly in love, unable to spend a single moment apart. After a while, they decided to get married.

There was one man who was despising Orpheus and desired Eurydice for his own. Aristaeus, a shepherd, had plotted a plan to conquer the beautiful nymph. And there he was, waiting in the bushes for the young couple to pass by. Seeing that the lovers were approaching, he intended to jump on them and kill Orpheus. As the shepherd made his move, Orpheus grabbed Eurydice by the hand and started running pell-mell through the forest. The chase was long and Aristaeus showed no signs of giving up or slowing down. On and on they ran and suddenly, Orpheus felt Eurydice stumble and fall, her hand slipping from his grasp. Unable to comprehend what had just happened, he rushed to her side but stopped short in dismay, for his eyes perceived the deathly pallor that suffused her cheeks. Looking around, he saw no trace of the shepherd for Aristaeus had witnessed the event and had left. Few steps away, Eurydice had stepped on a nest of snakes and had been bitten by a deadly viper. Knowing that there was no chance of survival, Aristaeus had abandoned his try, cursing his luck and Orpheus.

After the death of his beloved wife, Orpheus was no more the same carefree person he used to be. His life without Eurydice seemed endless and could do nothing more than grief for her. This is when he had a great but yet crazy idea: he decided to go to  the underworld and try to get his wife back. Apollo, his father, would talk to Hades, the god of the underworld, to accept him and hear his plea. Armed with his weapons, the lyre and his voice, Orpheus approached Hades and demanded entry into the underworld. None challenged him. Standing in front of the rulers of the dead, Orpheus said why he was there, in a voice both mellifluous and disquieting. He played his lyre and sang out to King Hades and Queen Persephone pleading that Eurydice was returned to him. Not even the most stone-hearted of people or Gods could have neglected the hurt in his voice. Hades openly wept, Persephone’s heart melted and even Cerberus, the gigantic three-headed hound guarding the entry to the underworld, covered his many ears with his paws and howled in despair. 

The voice of Orpheus was so moving that Hades promised to this desperate man that Eurydice would follow him to the Upper World, the world of the living. However, he warned Orpheus that for no reason must he look back while his wife was still in the dark, for that would undo everything he hoped for. He should wait for Eurydice to get into the light before he looked at her. With great faith in his heart and joy in his song, Orpheus began his journey out of the underworld, joyful that he would once again be reunited with his love.

As Orpheus was reaching the end of the Underworld, he could hear the footfalls of his wife approaching him. He wanted to turn around and hug her immediately but managed to control his feelings. As he was approaching the exit, his heart was beating faster and faster. The moment he stepped on the world of the living and was in the light, he turned his head to hug his wife. Unfortunately, he got only a glimpse of Eurydice before she was once again drawn back into the underworld. When Orpheus turned his head, Eurydice was still in the dark, she hadn’t seen the Sun and, as Hades had warned Orpheus, his sweet wife was drawn back to the dark world of the dead…. In conclusion, when one runs out of patience, he loses faith and vice versa…

 

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Pen pals

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An Email from a pal in the late 90’s was good enough to start a new friendship.
It was a great feeling to see that new email from your pen friend sitting in your mail or inbox waiting for you to find and read it. You read it not once, but again and again going through the lines which your friend from a distant land had written to you. You would then take the time to draft, review, correct and send a crisp and neat reply back. It was important, as the  strength of the friendship bond depended on your very replies.

In those times, pen pals appeared in books, newspaper columns, chat rooms and on pen pal sites and that was good enough for anyone to start and strike a friendship with one whom you found suitable and who shared your some if not all interests. The profile write up was therefore quite important to let others know who you, as a person was, for them to decide and send you that first reply.

The first few reply mails would decide the conversion ratio and  whether the friendship would last or get lost as fast as it had started. But yes, for the persistent types, those who believed in a good genuine friendship did last whereas some got lost over a few months or a years as the communication dried up due to lack of the initial curiosity or both friends getting lost in their work or personal problems.

Some of these pals disappeared into oblivion and it was neither yours nor their fault. I always believed, out there in the world, there are people who get close to you in different periods of time, get friendly, share your joys and sorrows and then leave so as to give the same joy and sharing to others in solitude and pining for friendship. You would have new ones come into your lonely life and the saga continued. In those days, you never thought you would meet any of your pals in person and this thought rarely came to mind, as distant pals were like stars in the sky waiting to give you glow and warmth in your journey of life…

On an ending note, I was fortunate enough to meet a few of my not so distant star pals over a pen palling period of 20 years. 

The Wait

The train has arrived and the long wait over
on the station you have been in attendance
as always, every day to meet your beloved
did she consent to meet you one more time?

Quarrelsome that you were, with a bad past
you had made amends, now that you had aged
you survey the passengers slowly getting down
in the darkened dusk, wonder where she was?

All these days, with a distant promise from her
with all bliss, you came everyday to receive her
she was  sure to visit you, or so you thought
will I live long to see her just one more time?

With a heavy mind carrying a bundle of thoughts
now that the train had left today with all hopes
you start walking out when someone pats you
as you turn, are you surprised to see her again?

 

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Pic Courtesy: Shutterstock

Solitude

I was gazing at your portrait till sleep took me
slowly feathers sprouted as I soared like a raven
over the bright town you had once long dwelt
looking into each nook and corner and lane
to get a fleeting sight anywhere of, dear you.

I dived into close quarters hoping to hear you
your soft voice that still sounded as nectar
somewhere I hoped to see a glimpse of you till
I came crashing down from my bed to the floor
and smiling at me still, was your beautiful face…