Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Of Charandas, Meursault, and Martyrs

Part one: Charandas Chor
Charandas, the thief, commits jokingly to a sage that he will never ride an elephant in a procession, will never eat in a golden vessel, will never marry a queen, and will never accept to be a king. All four being improbables for a thief, the sage asks him for one more promise - of speaking truth always. Charandas agrees to that. Fate brings him to all four opportunities - the queen, impressed by the truthfulness of Charandas, invites him to the palace riding on an elephant in a procession and to dine with her in a golden plate. He denies both. Even more impressed, the queen proposes her to marry and become the king of the land. He denies that too. Finally, queen requests him not to tell this to anybody that a thief rejected the queen for marriage. Charandas says that if somebody asks he cannot lie. The queen threatens him of death but Charandas remains firm on his commitments. The queen kills Charandas, the thief.

Part Two: L'Etranger (or) The Outsider
Meursault, a French in Algeria kills an Arab by mistake. He is trialled for murder. A chaplain insists him to confess in the name of God and set himself free. Meursault says he does not believe in God. The chaplain insists that it doesn't matter, even if he doesn't believe but he must say so to save his own life. Meursault says that he cannot lie and gets a death sentence.

Part Three: The Martyrs
Charandas and Meursault are no less than martyrs. Both of them sacrificed their lives for truth. They made a commitment - to oneself or to others, and stood by that. To me, they are no less than martyrs who die for values, for truth, for justice, for rights. They could have saved their lives easily with just one lie. But then, I guess, they would have had to die a million deaths with the burden of a lie in their heart. To them, it was better to die for what they believed to be right than to live with what they didn't. And to me too.

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