|Echo hiding in the forest|
This is one story that broke my heart. I believe that these kind of myths subjugated women in every part of the world. We are termed as the weaker sex. Male dominance is given precedence. Where did these ideas come from? As I turned the pages of History, it became clear that all our social norms and expectations stemmed from there. The Story of Echo is a story of woman punished due to her courage to ward off the sexual advances of a man. Though there are many myths. the seed of their birth must have taken place in the minds of humans. For Myths are lores passed on from generation to generation via storytelling. Here is my tribute to our first recorded 'Damini.' Though there are many legends of Echo, I have based my story on the version of Longus, a Greek Author, in the 2nd CE.
The fireflies cast an yellow glow around the forest. Tonight there was an unusual hum in the air. All the animals were alert for they knew that their lord Pan would visit them tonight. And sure enough before the sun rose in the glen, every bird, every flower and even the tiny insects felt alive with expectations. Soon Pan trotted with his band of wild shepherds, intoxicated and merry.
They lit a fire and sat down to rest; while all the animals and fairies ran about to make them comfortable. Suddenly, their laughter was cut off by a melodious voice coming from the somewhere deep in the forest.
"What a lovely voice!" Pan said shushing his merry men. As silence descended, the voice took over his senses and he could no longer bear it. Leaving his friends behind, he trotted deep inside the forest in the direction of the melodious voice. After trotting for sometime, he came upon a clearing where the small waterfall was gurgling. His eyes oblivious to the beauty around him searched for the voice. It was then he found a beautiful girl, sitting on the rocks, singing to her heart's content. He trotted towards her careful not to make a sound for he did not want to scare her away.
But she must have felt his presence, for she stopped singing. She she turned towards him and gasped. Upreturbed at her reaction, for he was used to it, he quickly spoke up before she bolted away, "Don't be afraid. I'm Pan, God of the Shepherds and Folks. I came to visit this jungle after many centuries."
The maiden got up and bowed down before him, giving him his due respect. "I'm Echo, a forest nymph."
"You've a beautiful voice," said Pan, his eyes taking in the beautiful nymph before him.
Echo looked at him curiously. She had of course heard of Pan, but had never seen him. His half man and half goat figure made her both afraid and intrigued. But she kept her fear hidden. It was rumoured that Pan thought that he was very good looking and made any one's life miserable if told otherwise.
"Will you sing and dance for me if I play the flute?"
Echo agreed and they spent some time lost in music. Soon Pan's band of shepherd joined them and amidst all this, Pan suddenly decided to kiss her. Horrified Echo tried to back away but Pan riding high on music, beauty and drinks, did not hear her pleas.
"Let go of me, you goat man!" Echo screamed. her fear overcoming her shyness.
There was pin drop silence in the woods. "What did you say?" asked Pan, his voice dangerously quiet.
"How dare you force me against my will?" Just because you are a god you cannot do this. Have you ever seen your face in the mirror? How grotesque you are!"
Pan shook in rage. He hated it when someone pointed out his goat legs. "So you find me grotesque?" he thundered. "I hope you find my 'men' more up to your desires.
From that day onwards, the beautiful maiden, Echo was never seen but her sorrowful voice could be heard- repeating every desire of man, every pain and scream of men leaden with her own pain.
Echo was a nymph whose myth provided the limitations of how a woman's sexual preferences had to be curbed. Both the myths associated with her, talks about how she was punished for speaking out. When she falls in love with Narcissis, she was mocked for letting her desire be known and her legend with Pan makes her suffer for she rejected the sexual advances of a man. In the Pan's version, it says her body was shredded to pieces by the Shepherds to punish her for insulting Pan.Today we call such actions of men - gang rape.
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