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25 Jun 2022, Edition - 2538, Saturday

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The curse of Midas touch engulfs many

Uma Ram


Today, the world is under the so called Midas curse. Almost all of us are aware of Midas touch.

Midas in Greek means disambiguation. One day Dionysus, found the satyr Silenus missing. The old satyr, who roamed about in intoxication in the woods and fields, eventually trespassed into the royal garden in the ancient city of Phrygia. Much to the astonishment of the peasants, who brought the old satyr to the royal court, expecting severe punishment for the intruder, the humane king treated him as a royal guest.

Silenus enjoyed the hospitality of the kind ruler for ten days and in return wrote poems and sang to please the king. On the 11th day, when Dionysus found his foster father as the royal guest, he was very much pleased and granted the king one wish. The perplexed king, in a hurry, requested to grant him the wish that whatever he touched should turn gold, without realising the consequences. Dionysus immediately granted his wish and disappeared happily with the satyr.

The king turned his loving daughter Marigold into a golden statue when he hugged her in ecstasy. Some mythologies say that the king died of starvation as even his food turned gold when he touched it and some depict that in due course he too turned into gold when he touched himself.

But in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s – A Wonder-Book For Girls and Boys (1852) – it is said Midas on losing his little daughter hated the boon that he had coveted and begged Dionysus to take back the wish. As per his directions, Midas immersed all that had turned gold into the river Pactolus that froze into hard gold and everything was back to natural again. This, no doubt is the impetus to the rich deposition of gold in the river bed according to this Aetiological myth. Midas had then confessed that, though he became poorer than before, he was happier than ever.

The present day man lives in the fantasy world of Midas, unaware that he is compromising with invaluable relationships and the precious phases of life which can never be reversed as in the myth. Today, some people traverse the globe almost 365 days a year, accumulating materialistic comforts, keeping in touch with their loved ones only through video chats and costly gifts for memorable occasions, leading to stressful relationships.

But they fail to realise that their presence is the most precious gift for their loved ones. The fact that their loving touch means a million dollar gift to their precious ones is still a mystery to them. The marital bliss, the loving embrace of the parents, the love bound kiss to a child on the birthday or the lively presence of the parents on a school event can never be replaced by a million dollar yacht or an ayahs’ care.

It is already too late for mankind to come out of this Midas curse and start enjoying the real pleasures of this precious short lifetime for life is just once and, what we take, when we leave this materialistic world is nothing and what we leave behind, is just our name bearing our memories. Money is essential for life. But money alone cannot be life. It is high time that mankind should learn to be thrifty in spending this short life, respecting relationships to leave back pleasant loving memories before it is too late.

(The author of the column is Uma Ram, freelance writer from Coimbatore)

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are the author’s own.

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