By Swasti Sudan:
Written in the form of an enchantingly beautiful prose, Of Love and Other Demons belongs to the genre of magical realism. Gabriel GarcÃa MÃ¡rquez starts the novella with a note on the event in his life that gave birth to the story of Sierva Maria, and it is from this very moment that you are captured.
The story is that of a 12-year-old Marquise who is neglected by her parents and raised by the slaves of the household. On being bitten by a dog that has rabies, Sierva Maria is presented before a number of different doctors and healers who attempt to cure her of the rabies that she does not in fact have. Eventually, the Bishop convinces her father that in order to save her soul, she must be confined to a convent where she meets Father Cayetano. It is here where Father Cayetano, amidst the confusion of his feelings, attempts to come to a conclusion on whether Sierva Maria is possessed or it is her other worldliness that sets her apart.
With multiple interpretations of the story at many different levels as well as numerous topics that he touches upon, there are certain resounding pieces of wisdom that MÃ¡rquez conveys through his words that surpass time and place.
1. “No medicine cures what happiness cannot.”
It seems very obvious, but in today’s’ fast paced world with our busy lives where everyone seems to be looking for a quick fix, this little nugget of wisdom is one we should make sure to remember. Regardless of what ails you, there is no better cure than happiness.
2. “Do not allow me to forget you.”
Placed in context, this is one of the most heart wrenching lines in the novella. Its magic lies in its simplicity, whether it’s a matter of the heart or a matter of professionalism and first impressions, if it is something you truly want, do not allow yourself to forget it, and do not allow yourself to be forgotten. Consistency and perseverance will always leave an impression.
3. “‘Perhaps she will be a poet,’ he said. Abrenuncio did not agree that lying was an attribute of the arts. ‘The more transparent the writing, the more visible the poetry,’ he said.”
It may seem that this piece of wisdom is only for the artists, however, if you look closely, there’s much more to it. It not only applies to ones’ art, but also ones identity. In a world where people appear to be a certain way, it is those that remain true to themselves who stand out and make a mark.
4. “Crazy people are not crazy if one accepts their reasoning.”
Have you ever had an idea that you have tried to explain to a friend or your parents, and the response you’ve gotten is ‘you’re/that’s crazy’? These words by MÃ¡rquez say everything in response to that. Next time you decide to react in the same way to someone, think about these words for a moment.
5. “He went to the oratory, trying with all his strength to recover the god who had forsaken him, but to no avail: disbelief is more resistant than faith because it is sustained by the senses.”
These beautiful words would have lost their meaning if taken out of context. You don’t have to be a believer or an atheist to understand this frustration, as faith is not only related to religion. Everyone faces situations in life where their faith is tested; faith in themselves, faith in their God, faith in the people around them. Yet these words ring true when we pause to think about them; ‘disbelief is more resistant than faith because it is sustained by the senses.’ (Essentially, these are things within your control.)
6. “One never quite stops believing, some doubt remains forever.”
One could equate this to the phrase ‘Hope is the most dangerous of emotions’, yet that would be a mistake. The words of MÃ¡rquez not only talk about feelings of hope but they encompass belief and faith. They talk about that slight glimmer of emotion we have when we turn our backs towards something or someone. So the next time you ask yourself why you seem to have given an old friend or lover or even the belief in a God another chance, think of this.
7. “The girl showed interest and good taste but did not have the patience to learn an instrument. The teacher resigned in consternation and said, as she took her leave of the Marquis, ‘It is not that the girl is unfit for everything; it is that she is not of this world.’”
This is another quote that could be misinterpreted without its context. Have you ever given up on someone, or dismissed them with the thought that; ‘they weren’t made to do this’, or ‘this is not for them’, or even the thought ‘this is not for me’. It is in this situation that MÃ¡rquez reminds us to be patient and not dismiss anyone in such a manner. There is always another way to explain and to understand the individual in front of us (as well as ourselves).
8. “So they might at least each have someone to die with.”
What we say in today’s’ time is; ‘I don’t want to die alone’, yet it seems so crass and desperate and the words don’t quite encompass and do justice to the emotions and complexities of the companionship we seek (on a more instinctual and basal level). One could consider this a more romantic and honest expression of the phrase we use today.
9. This is one quotation that each individual interpretsÂ and understands in their own manner, to try and explain these words, would not do them justice, and so I consider it best to leave you with one of the most beautiful pieces of wisdom from ‘Of Love and Other Demons’, absolutely unadulterated.
“He said that love was an emotion contra natura that condemned two strangers to a base and unhealthy dependence, and the more intense it was, the more ephemeral.”