Learning, Sharing, Helping …


Story of Ahab and st. Savin
Paolo Coelho – The Devil and Miss Prym

‘Once, many years ago, a hermit – who later came to be known as St Savin – lived in one of the caves hereabouts.
At the time, Viscos was little more than a frontier post, populated by bandits fleeing from
justice, by smugglers and prostitutes, by confidence tricksters in search of accomplices,
even by murderers resting between murders. The wickedest of them all, an Arab called
Ahab, controlled the whole village and the surrounding area, imposing extortionate taxes
on the local farmers who still insisted on maintaining a dignified way of life.
One day, Savin came down from his cave, arrived at Ahab’s house and asked to spend
the night there. Ahab laughed: “You do know that I’m a murderer who has already slit a
number of throats, and that your life is worth nothing to me?”
“Yes, I know that,” Savin replied, “but I’m tired of living in a cave and I’d like to spend at
least one night here with you.”

Ahab knew the saint’s reputation, which was as great as vvn and this made him uneasy,
for he did not like to share his glory with someone so weak. Thus he was determined to kill him that very night to prove to everyone that he was the one true master of the place.
They chatted for a while. Ahab was impressed by what the saint had to say, but he was a
suspicious man who no longer believed in the existence of Good. He showed Savin
where he could sleep and then continued menacingly sharpening his knife. After
watching him for a few minutes, Savin closed his eyes and went to sleep.
Ahab spent all night sharpening his knife. Next day, when Savin awoke, he found Ahab
in tears at his side.
“You weren’t afraid of me and you didn’t judge me. For the first time ever, someone spent a night by my side trusting that I could be a good man, one ready to offer hospitality to those in need. Because you believed I was capable of behaving decently, I did.”
From that moment on, Ahab abandoned his life of crime and set about transforming the
region. That was when Viscos ceased being merely a frontier post, inhabited by outcasts,
and became an important trading centre on the border between two countries.’

….

‘Can you give me that answer now?’ the stranger asked. Someone must already have told you about the meeting between St Savin and Ahab. Of course. The saint came, talked to him briefly, and the Arab converted to Christianity because he realised that the saint was much braver than him. That’s right. Except that, before going to sleep, the two of them talked together for a while. Even though Ahab had begun to sharpen his knife the moment the saint set foot in his house, safe in the knowledge that the world was a reflection of himself, he was determined to challenge the saint and so he asked him:

“If, tonight, the most beautiful prostitute in the village came in here, would you be able to see her as neither beauti- ful nor seductive?”

“No, but I would be able to control myself,” the saint replied.

“And if I offered you a pile of gold coins to leave your cave in the mountain and come and join us, would you be able to look on that gold and see only pebbles?”

“No, but I would be able to control myself.”

“And if you were sought by two brothers, one of whom hated you, and the other who saw you as a saint, would you be able to feel the same towards them both?”

“It would be very hard, but I would be able to control myself sufficiently to treat them both the same.”

Chantal paused.

They say this dialogue was important in Ahab’s conversion to Christianity. The stranger did not need Chantal to explain the story. Savin and Ahab had the same instincts – Good and Evil struggled in both of them, just as they did in every soul on the face of the earth. When Ahab realised that Savin was the same as him, he realised too that he was the same as Savin.

It was all a matter of control. And choice.

Nothing more and nothing less.

——————————————————————————————-

Odatã, cu multi, multi ani în urmã, un pustnic  care mai târziu avea sã fie cunoscut sub numele de Sfântul Savin trãia într-o pesterã din regiunea asta. Pe atunci, Viscos nu era mai mult decât o asezare de frontierã, populatã debanditi cãutati de justitie, contrabandisti, prostituate, aventurieri care veneau în cãutare de complici, asasini care se odihneau acolo între o crimã si alta. Cel mai rãu dintre ei, un arab pe nume Ahab, controla orasul si împrejurimile sale, impunând biruri istovitoare agricultorilor care încercau din rãsputeri sã-si ducã viata cu demnitate.

Într-o bunã zi, Savin coborî din pestera lui, ajunse la casa lui Ahab si ceru sã fie gãzduit peste noapte. Ahab râse: Tu nu stii cã sunt un ucigas, cã am tãiat pânã acum capetele multor insi de pe pãmântul meu si cã viata ta nu face pentru mine nici douã parale?

Stiu, rãspunse Savin. Dar m-am sãturat sã tot trãiesc în pestera aceea. Mi-ar plãcea sã petrec mãcar o noapte aici.

Ahab cunostea faima sfântului, la fel de mare ca si a lui, si asta îl supãra  pentru cã nu-i plãcea sã-si vadã gloria împãrtitã cu cineva atât de nevolnic. Asa încât hotãrî sã-l ucidã chiar în noaptea aceea ca sã le arate tuturora cã era singurul si adevãratul stãpân al locului.

Staturã nitel de vorbã. Ahab fu impresionat de vorbele sfântului, dar era un om lipsit de credintã si de mult nu mai credea în Bine. Îi arãtã un loc unde Savin se putea culca si continuã sã-si ascutã jungherul, amenintãtor. Savin, dupã ce-l urmãri cu privirea câteva clipe, închise ochii si adormi. Ahab îsi ascuti jungherul toatã noaptea.

Dimineata, când Savin se trezi, îl gãsi plângând lingã el. Tie nu ti-a fost teamã de mine si nu m-ai judecat. Pentru prima oarã cineva si-a petrecut noaptea alãturi de mine încredintat cã as putea fi un om bun, capabil sã ofere ospetie celor în nevoie. Deoarece ai crezut cã pot sã mã port cinstit, asa m-am si purtat. Din clipa aceea, Ahab îsi pãrãsi viata criminalã si începu sã transforme regiunea.

Atunci a încetat Viscos sã mai fie o simplã asezare de frontierã, plinã de oameni certati cu legea, devenind un oras important în comertul dintre douã tãri.

Poti sã-mi dai acum rãspunsul acela?  întrebã bãrbatul.

Cred cã ti-am si povestit ceva despre întâlnirea dintre Sfântul Savin si Ahab.

Sigur. Sfântul a venit, a stat putin de vorbã cu el si pânã la urmã arabul s-a convertit pentru cã s-a convins cã sfântul era mai curajos decât el.

Asa e. Afarã de faptul cã, înainte de a se culca, au mai stat un pic de vorbã, cu toate cã Ahab începuse sã-si ascutã pumnalul chiar din clipa în care Sfântul Savin pãsise în casa lui. Încredintat cã lumea era doar un reflex al propriei sale fiinte, se hotãrî sã-l provoace si-l întrebã:

Dacã acum ar intra aici cea mai frumoasã prostituatã din cetate, ai reusi sã gândesti cã nu e frumoasã si seducãtoare?

Nu. Dar as izbuti sã mã stãpânesc  rãspunse sfântul.

Si dacã ti-as oferi multi bani de aur ca sã-ti pãrãsesti muntele si sã ni te alãturi, ai izbuti sã privesti aurul ãsta cape niste pietre?

Nu, dar as izbuti sã mã stãpânesc.

Si dacã ai fi cãutat de doi frati, unul care te urãste, altul care vede în tine un sfânt, ai izbuti sã-i socotesti ca fiind deopotrivã?

Chiar dacã as suferi, as izbuti sã mã stãpânesc si i-as trata pe amândoi la fel.

Chantal fãcu o pauzã. Se zice cã dialogul acesta a fost important pentru ca Ahab sã accepte sã se converteascã.

Strãinul nu avea nevoie ca Chantal sã-i explice povestea; Savin si Ahab aveau aceleasi instincte în ei se luptau binele si rãul, întocmai cum se luptau în toate sufletele de pe fata pãmântului. Când Ahab întelesese cã Savin era la fel cu el, întelesese si cã el însusi era la fel cu Savin.

Totul era o chestiune de stãpânire. Si de alegere.

Nimic altceva.

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