The boy who turned into a flower

The boy who turned into a flower

Legend & lore:

There was once a boy called Narcissus. He was extremely good-looking and admired by many people. But he shunned all this attention and kept pretty much to himself. He wasn’t interested in making friends. He was an aloof person.

Narcissus was just a small child when his mother took him to a prophet who could look into the future and say what lay ahead for those who consulted him. The seer said everything would be fine for Narcissus as long as he didn’t recognise himself. The mother found these words confusing. She could not understand what the wise man meant. She asked the people around her for an explanation but no one was able to enlighten her.

Narcissus, as mentioned earlier, grew up to be a handsome boy. His favourite sport was hunting. Many a time, he would pick up his bow and arrows, and wander in the woods. He was quite happy with his own company. One day, he began to track an animal. Though he tried for several hours to spot it, he couldn’t. He was hot and tired. He
wanted to drink some water and rest in a cool, shady place. He went on looking until he came to a clearing. And among the low bushes there, he discovered a spring. The water was very clear, and Narcissus, who was very thirsty, bent to drink the water. Suddenly, he stopped, for staring at him from the clear water was a beautiful face. It was his own image but Narcissus did not realise that. He gazed at the lovely face reflected in the water with growing wonder. The longer he looked at the image, the lovelier it seemed to become.

Narcissus, who had spurned the affection of his admirers, fell head-long in love with his own reflection. He couldn’t take his eyes off the image in the water. He spoke to it and its lips parted as if to answer him, though he could not hear the words. He smiled at it and it smiled back.

Narcissus wanted to touch it. But the movement of his hand disturbed the surface of the water and the image became hazy. When he took out his hand and the face appeared again in the still water. He tried again and the face became blurred. When he removed his hand, it reappeared when the water regained its stillness. He had fallen in love with a shadow, his own image, which had no form.

Narcissus did not feel hungry or sleepy. He sat on the grass beside the spring all through the day and night, never taking his eyes off his own image in the water. Gradually, he wasted away, growing thinner and weaker. Finally, he died.

All the wood nymphs and the water nymphs grieved for their dear Narcissus. They got ready his funeral pyre. Then made garlands and went to carry him to the funeral pyre. Imagine their dismay when the body of their beloved Narcissus had vanished! In its place was a beautiful flower with white petals and a golden centre. The stem bent towards the spring, nodding to its reflection in the water.

That is why this flower, called narcissus, grows beside quiet pools, stooping to look at itself in the water.

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