In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Sweet Little Lies.”
As kids, we’re told, time and again, that lying is wrong. Do you believe that’s always true? In your book, are there any exceptions?
Well in Paulo Coelho’s “Veronica Decides To Die”, there is an exception! It is a beautiful story where the protagonist, the young and beautiful Slovenian girl Veronica, decides to die one fine morning by taking too many sleeping pills. She has a perfect life or so everyone thinks. But something is amiss and hence the decision to attempt suicide. And while she waits for the impending death, she stumbles upon an article in a magazine which asks “Where is Slovenia?” She writes an open letter to press that states she is committing suicide because people don’t even know where is Slovenia. She fails in her attempt but her letter ensures one thing: She wakes up in a mental asylum, meaning her absurd letter establishes her mental status as unstable.
While in the asylum, she comes to know from Dr. Igor, that she has only a few days to live. She then meets and interacts with many eccentric characters like Mari, Zedka and Eduard, whom she falls in love. And in the confines of the asylum, she finds a new freedom; the source of which is the knowledge that she has nothing to loose, as she is going to die anyways. In the asylum she is also liberated from the constant pressure she faced outside to conform with the (seemingly) sane society. She is free to do anything that pleases her, without worrying over how others would perceive her actions.
“Haven’t you learned anything, not even with the approach of death? Stop thinking all the time that you’re in the way, that you’re bothering the person next to you. If people don’t like it, they can complain. And if they don’t have the courage to complain, that’s their problem”
― Paulo Coelho, Veronika Decides to Die
She and Eduard decides to breakout from the asylum and succeed too. Veronica sleeps peacefully, her head placed in Eduard’s lap, believing that she will never wake up now. But she sees the next dawn.
In a parallel narrative, Dr. Igor reveals that Veronica is in the prime of her life. It is his experiment to see if ‘shocking’ someone to death can invoke strong urge to live more. And he succeeds. Making me a happy reader.
Isn’t it a beautiful lie?
While the focus of the story is on Veronica and her Journey to a sane person living a vain life to an insanely spiritual person, the catalyst is no doubt Dr. Igor’s “Sweet Little Lie.”.