The Devil and Miss Prym

Finally finished reading The Devil and Miss Prym by Paulo Coelho. Very bad of me, took me months and months to finish this thin book (I got the book in Novembre 2005). My excuses was, there were Potter, Christmas + End of year holiday being spent at home, and also Chinese New Year holiday. The next book I should be reading now is The Devil Wears Prada that Dagi gave me, however Vivy lent me The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, so I supposed I better read this quick and return her back. I seriously should read more and stop giving excuses that I don't have time. I should make time.

The Devil and Miss Prym tells this story of a stranger who came to a very remote and perhaps boring village (the story emphasizes that nothing interesting happened there). This stranger was pretty rich and he came with 11 gold bars to this village. However he's a very desperate man, pretty much lost everything and in everything that he had, having his wife and daughter killed by terrorists (this one happened regarding his works). Anyway, so his purpose of coming to this village was to do an experiment. He met Chantal Prym, and he chose her to help execute his experiment. He showed Chantal the 11 gold bars. Chantal knew the location of 1 bar but she didn't know where the other 10 were. The stranger said, Chantal could just go and steal the 1 gold bar she saw, but what he wanted was for Chantal to tell the whole village that there were 10 gold bars that could be theirs if they would break one of the 10 commandments "Thou shalt not kill". Chantal could just go and take the bar and wash her hands from this, but the stranger warned her that if she didn't tell the villagers about the 10 gold bars, he would tell the village that Chantal knew something that could help the village and she decided not to. So what's in it for the stranger? For him, if Chantal took the 1 gold bar but the villagers didn't do what he hoped they would do, then it would prove in this world there are good and evil people, and it would mean that he's also like that, that there's a struggle (especially in him) that could be won by either side. If the whole village agreed to kill someone for the 10 gold bars, then for him the whole world is evil, and for the desperate him, it was more acceptable (talking about being bad together). So the story highlighted all the struggle within Chantal, should she or should she not just walk away with the gold bar she saw, should she or should she not tell the village. She didn't take the gold bar and she told the village. Now, the struggle went to the village. After much talk between the village priest, the mayor, and the major people of the village, they agreed to kill a lonely old lady for the 10 gold bars. The whole rationalization was pretty amazing, especially when it was the priest who made what they wanted to do as well as choosing the victim seemed like a noble thing to do.

Would you ever consider taking part in this experiment? At first read of the proposition, I thought well that was easy. Don't take the gold, don't partake in this evil experiment. However, the priest believed the need of evil to show good (which reminds me of a short story, Satan, from Kahlil Gibran. You can read it here). The priest hoped that after the villagers did that evil act, they would feel so guilty that they would be closer to God, something that they hadn't really done all this time. The existence of Evil and Good is arguable, some religion and belief believe that the 2 would always be together hand in hand, to keep the balance of this world. Other religion believe in the final battle when good will rein, which as good as it is for me, I always wonder, then what? Good forever? Happily ever after forever? I think being burnt in hell for eternity is freaking scary (which makes me less evil than what I am now) but happily ever after also seem a bit boring for me. I prefer the idea of no feeling at all, no sadness as well as happiness. To disappear? Okay, I am digressing again, back to the story. So in the end, the villagers were ready to shoot this old woman (Goodness, the way they wanted to do it was so evil) but Chantal saved the day by using simple logic and in the end they didn't commit the murder. Honestly, the ending was, I don't know whether it was satisfying for everyone. The villagers didn't commit the murder not because they thought it was the wrong thing to do, but more because they were afraid with what would have happened if they had done it, and also because of the fact that they perhaps couldn't enjoy the gold afterall. It was an interesting story and as usual Coelho delivered questions that perhaps we also wondered in our life.

I was particularly moved by the sermon that the priest gave to the villagers after Chantal told them what the stranger wanted. The priest's sermon was about Job (a character from the old testament; in Indonesian bible, he is known as Ayub). The priest's story was different with what I remembered from primary school. Anyway this is what the priest told, Job was this successful and rich guy, then God allowed the devil to test him. So job lost everything, family, wealth, he even got really sick. As I remembered from my religion lessons, Job never wavered in his belief in God despite of all that happened to him. But the priest said, he did and when he started to blame God, only then God restored him of all his wealth and health, and all. The moral of the story from the priest was that and I quote "Why did God force Job to behave in that way? To show that he was by nature bad, and that everything that came to him was by grace and grace alone, and not reward for good behaviour.". This raised the question, if it is like that, then what's the purpose of being good? Interesting isn't it? Christian especially keep on saying that salvation comes from Jesus Christ and Christ alone, not achievable by what good thing we do. I honestly can't give you a convincing answer right now, why we should be good, why we should believe in God? Maybe because when you feel God's grace, your gratitude is huge and since we can't give back to the Almighty who has all, so all we can do is share God's grace to other human being. Even then, what we do is still not enough because God's grace is amazing and beyond words and too much for us to give back.

The Devil and Miss Eka

About me now, the days have been rough. Upsetting and uncomfortable things have been happening and the days are always infused either with stress, sadness, or fear. Keep on thinking it's because of the bad dog year but of course the more you believe it, the more bad things will happen. I am tired and afraid and just wanna stop. Haven't really feeling this for some time, but this time I just felt that I couldn't handle it all anymore (as always). I just wanna go away, and get lost (oH wait, I always want to get disappear, aren't I?). I should stay, it's not my time yet to leave this place. I should just stay and bear it with and hang on, it wouldn't be that long. However, I just felt that I couldn't take it anymore. Other than the not so nice sleep, I am also having neck pain these days. I feel that I don't have much time, and don't have much other thing. So much things to do and I feel things gonna crumble right in front of me and I wouldn't know how to live afterwards.

Gosh, Keanu Reeves is so handsome. Oh please God, give me someone like that.

:) eKa @ 8:57:00 PM •

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