Zeenath Jahan



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ATHENA

By

Zeenath Jahan


Once upon a time, there was a Wizard who lived in a far away land in a small cabin in the forest. He was a good Wizard and never did anyone harm, spending his day conjuring up beautiful plants in the forest. As time went on, his garden became the most beautiful place in the whole wide world; but the only ones who saw it were the deer and yellow, blue and red birds that came to his garden. The Wizard was content while sitting in his garden admiring his beautiful plants. He had everything anyone could ask for!
Yet, although the Wizard was not sad, he was not happy either. He was not ‘Happy’ as in when he woke, his heart didn’t flip with joy at the very thought of life. It was just another peaceful day to conjure up beautiful flowers; another day to enjoy the beauty he had wrought in the heart of the forest; another day to live. You see, although he had made the most beautiful garden in the world, he had no one to share it with but the forest animals.
One day, the Wizard decided to find a companion; one who would enjoy all the things he enjoyed and especially, one who would silently sit in the garden and enjoy it with him. The Wizard set out to search the world for just such a companion. And though he found many, he did not find anyone with whom he would like to spend each moment of every day. Some talked too much; some too little; some were not clever enough; some were too clever and got on his nerves with their smart remarks. Crestfallen, the Wizard returned alone to his garden.
One day, while conjuring up his beautiful plants he had a great idea. He would conjure up a companion. A companion who was tailor made for him! He knew that conjuring up a whole real person would be more difficult than conjuring up plants, but the thought was tantalizing. So the Wizard studied all the books on magic and tried each spell. None worked. Then the Wizard went on another journey to search for the different parts to add to his dream companion. Carrying a large bag he collected the bright eyes of this woman, the smiling mouth of that; the mind of this woman, the body of that. Finally he had everything he needed for a perfect companion!
Valuing his privacy and enjoying his own company most of the time he did not think he would enjoy having someone around all the time, so he added a formula that would keep her alive only a few hours each day. Now all he had to do was put together all the parts he had collected with such thought and care. In a large crucible he added the bright eyes and the smiling mouth and all the other parts, not forgetting the formula limiting the time the companion would be alive.

There was a moment of silence after the Wizard had chanted the spell, then crashing loud ear-splitting thunder and jagged flashes of blinding light almost knocked the Wizard off his feet. When the smoke cleared he saw Athena standing before him, this was the name the Wizard had chosen for his companion. Studying Athena, the Wizard found one little flaw in her, a flaw that could destroy his handiwork. When he looked deep into the soul of Athena he found that she carried a deep, dark fear within her. You see, although he was a wizard, even he made mistakes now and then, and he had never thought of ‘Fear’ since he felt none.


Since everything else was perfect, or almost so, the Wizard set about training Athena to wipe out the fear that threatened to destroy his ‘magnum opus’. So, each time she pleased him he smiled on her, and a spark of joy ran through Athena. Each time she displeased him he locked her in a dank, dark cupboard while he went about his work. Sometimes Athena was locked out of sight for hours on end; sometimes it was days before the Wizard let her out.
At first, when locked in the dank, dark cupboard Athena screamed and pounded on the door begging to be let out. In time she learned that the Wizard only let her out when she was calm. As time went on, Athena learned to control her fears, jamming her hand in her mouth when she was locked into the cupboard so the Wizard couldn’t hear the screams welling in her soul. In time, she learned not to displease the Wizard because she had grown to adore him. She realized that he was gentle and fiercely independent; she learned to read his dreams; she wondered at the beauty he created. These, all these were as much a part of him as was the ‘harsh’ strictness with which he was teaching her to overcome her fears. Gradually the fears dropped away for want of sustenance, there was nothing to fear now. She was free to enjoy life with an excitement that made each day more beautiful than the last. The Wizard was well pleased with his handiwork. He enjoyed her company and soon grew used to having Athena with him, missing her company when she vanished into thin air.
Though Athena disappeared, she never went too far from the Wizard. She melted into the air that surrounded the Wizard and spoke to him in the voice of the breeze, and stroked his cheek with the rays of the sun; but the Wizard did not know this. Though he was not sad, he was not happy either without Athena; but the Wizard did not know this either.
The Wizard tried to weed out the formula that only allowed Athena to live for a few hours, searching his books of magic to find a way for Athena to remain alive all the time. One day, a crow came to the Wizards window its feathers shining blue and black. Cawing in its raucous voice it spelt out a magic formula that would allow Athena to remain with him all the time. The Wizard did not like crows and shooed it away, refusing to listen. Besides, he had used those words before. That time his tongue had become lifeless for days and months, and the formula hadn’t worked to his satisfaction.
Finally, he sent a message asking for an interview to the Master Wizard who lived deep down in the ocean and one to the Master Wizard who lived high in the clouds. At the agreed time, the Wizard went to the Master Wizard who lived deep down in the ocean to take his advice.

“Please tell me a magic formula by which Athena can remain by my side at all times.”

“The brave of heart get their heart’s desire” was all the Master Wizard said, diving deeper into the ocean and disappearing from view.

The Wizard knew the interview had come to an end. Not being able to understand the cryptic message he decided to visit the Master Wizard high up in the clouds.

“Please tell me a magic formula with which Athena can remain by my side at all times,” said the Wizard.

“The brave of heart get their heart’s desire.” Said the Master Wizard flying up, high into the sky.

The Wizard was puzzled by the reply each of the Master Wizards had given him.

When he returned home, he told Athena “I have trained you to think, logically and clearly. Tell me, what do you think is the meaning of “The brave of heart get their heart’s desire”?

Athena thought for a while and replied, “A great Wizard like you doesn’t understand the message?”

“No,” said the Wizard, faintly losing patience with the question.

“When you want something, what do you do?”

“I try to get it, ofcourse!”

“Once you have it, are you sure it will be what you want?”

“No-o-o,” said the Wizard thoughtfully.

“Won’t you have to be brave to go after it even though you are not absolutely sure of the outcome?”

The Wizard smiled and understood what the Master Wizards had tried to teach him.



What one wants will sometimes make life so different, it is only the brave of heart, those who are willing to chance, that have the courage to get their heart’s desire.

What one wants will sometimes make life so different, it is only the brave of heart, those who are willing to chance it that get their heart’s desire.


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