24. Echo and Narcissus

Once upon a time, the nymph Echo saw Narcissus, who along with his friends, was wandering in the woods. At first sight, Echo fell in love with Narcissus. Quietly, she followed him and the more she followed him, the more did she burn to be close to him. She longed to speak and make her passion known, but due to Juno’s decree, she only repeated last few words what others said.

By chance, Narcissus got separated from his friends. He looked around and shouted, “Is anybody here?”

Echo repeated, “Here, here.”

Narcissus viewed all the directions and finding no one, exclaimed, “Come to me.”

Echo repeated, “Come to me, me.” Echo found no sound sweeter than the sound of the words ‘Come to me’. She approached Narcissus, and in loving abandonment, threw her arms around his neck, with a sweet smile on her lips, while her eyes glistened with the sparkle of first love.

But Narcissus shook off her fond hold and went away. He wandered around while Echo followed him. Narcissus came across a glassy spring of clear water, and being tired of the heated noon, lay down to drink from it. To his amazement, he saw a handsome youth beneath the water, which was his own mirrored image. And in his own witless way, Narcissus fell in love with his own image.

He lay there, unmoved, lovingly gazing at his image, and years passed, while from behind a tree, the love-torn Echo stood sadly looking at him. Consumed by rejected love, the pining body of Echo wasted away and only her voice remained. Narcissus also became emaciated and his image was no longer handsome.

Narcissus sighed, “Alas, youth loved in vain.”

Echo repeated, “Loved in vain, in vain.”

With eyes fixed on the mirrored image, Narcissus said, “Farewell” and breathed his last.

A devastated Echo repeated, “Farewell, farewell.”

On the bank where his body lay, there grew a pretty flower, which also bent towards the water, as if looking at it’s own reflection.

Excerpt from the book “Once Upon A Time-II: 150 Greek Mythology Stories” by Rajen Jani

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