Veronika Decides to Die by Paulo Coelho
I just finished reading a Paulo Coelho’s book “Veronika Decides to Die” yesterday. The author beautifully told a story of a young 24 year old girl, Veronika; who was pretty, had a steady job, boyfriends, loving parents, thus everything that one could wish for to be happy. But she was not happy and she didn’t know why. Failing to recognize the reason for unhappiness, she decided to die and took over dose of sleeping pills. She was taken to hospital – rather a mental hospital where she was told that she was suffering from a cardiac disease and just had a week more to live. That was her life changing moment. She took pills because she wanted to die at once but now she had to live for six or seven more days and she knew that waiting for death is more painful than actual death.
She was given sedatives and other drugs via injections so initially she could not retain her consciousness for very long. She met with few people in asylum – Villete: Zedka who was suffering from depression, Mari, who was a lawyer, had panic attacks which Doc Igor referred as ‘fear’ and finally Eduard – the schizophrenic with whom Veronika fell in eternal love later on.
She met with Zedka and asked “what is mad”. Zedka explained her that mad person is the one who is different from others. He tends to deviate from the set norms or so called practices of society. Because most of us don’t have courage to act differently, therefore we don’t accept change. She gave examples of great scientists like Albert Einstein and Newton and philosophers who discovered hidden truth about life and this world. They were not the normal people. They were extra ordinary and thus changed the world from their knowledge. Zedka made sense to Veronika and she thought she should not have been admitted into mental hospital.
Veronika started feeling dull and lost interest in life, in fact few remaining days of life. She wanted to die but she didn’t know how to materialize her wish in a mental hospital where she was kept under observation all the time. She had enough time to think about her past. What she had and what she did in these twenty four years of life. Her past flashed back into her mind. She did a good university degree in law but ended up doing a job as librarian. She spent half of her life in eating sandwiches as a part of her set routine. Got back from work, rush into the bar, then to lover’s bed and finally hit her bed to sleep. She didn’t want to sleep in someone else’s bed. She was following this routine since long and thus left charm in life. She was scared of trying new exciting things. She probably didn’t know how to add colors to her life. At Villete, she tried few new things, like slapping to a Fraternity member was something she never thought of doing in public. She began playing piano. It was something she always wanted to do but couldn’t make it. There, she met with Eduard – schizophrenic who was living in his own world with a ‘Vision of Paradise’ in mind. He didn’t talk to Veronika but always asked her to play pianao in moonlight. Veronika started enjoying doing it for somebody she didn’t know.
At last, they both fell in love. Eduard told her his story what brought him into Villete. He wanted to be a painter but his family wanted him to pursue a career as diplomat. He indulged himself in abstract painting and envisioned to create a series of “Vision of Paradise”. His parents were frightened of losing him and he thought he had discovered himself. Upon negating his passion on the wish of his parents, he lost the interest in ‘real’ world and went into a ‘virtual’ world of his own imagination. When he was brought into Villete, he was diagnosed as mild schizophrenia.
Veronika was getting passionate about Eduard and frightened to lose everything soon. Because she was dying and it was her own wish. Now she had just 24 more hours to live. She decided to make most of her every moment. She told Dr Igor that she wanted to go out and do things which she never did. She wanted to tell her mother that she love her. She wanted to explore the world. But now it was too late.
Same day Eduard and Veronika escaped from the Villete. They went to the most expensive restaurant, got drunk and started talking non sense. They laughed out loud and the restaurant manager had to ask them to leave without clearing the bills. They went to the castle at the top of hill and Vernokia asked him to paint herself after her death. She made him promise that he would continue painting because this is his passion.
Veronika didn’t die.
Dr Igor was successful in controlling Vitriol (Bitterness) in Veronika. He created ‘awareness of living’ by creating ‘awareness of death’. And it worked in case of Veronika. She had every reason to be happy but she tried to commit suicide. She could change her life by doing what she actually wanted. If she could please herself rather than pleasing others she might not have thought about taking her life. Interestingly, now when she knew she is alive only for few days, she got enough time to visualize and evaluate her past and look at the mistakes she did or the mistakes she never did. She had encountered the love of life at the most crucial stage. This is point when she realized that life is worth living.