|Painting by Pietro Perugino (1446-1524)|
I had seen greed of all sorts. My ancestors had told me about the various kings and conquerors who crossed the mountains and the seas out of greed for land and its riches, for power and wealth, or for sheer adventure.
The usual varieties of princely greed failed to enchant me. My parents were disappointed in me as I did not grow up as a prince was supposed to. “Caspar will be no good,” I heard my father tell my mother once, “he gazes at the sky more than is good for a prince.”
My greed was for knowledge. I wanted to know everything that lay beyond the horizon. I wanted to know what the stars knew. I became a star gazer. It was thus that I noticed a unique star in the sky. Was it a dream or an illusion? I was not sure. Sometimes I could not distinguish illusion from reality. The star invited me to leave the cosy comfort of the palace and explore the world beyond the horizon. Thus it was that I started my long, long journey, across the Himalayas, through Persia and Arabia, through lands that smelled of dust and lust.
It was during that journey that I came across two wanderers similar to me: the Persian Melchior and the Arab Balthazar. Melchior said that he had seen a star too which marked the birth of some special person. Balthazar joined us later and we all moved on, braving the mountains and deserts, the heat and the cold.
The world went on with its usual activities of finding food, conquering lands, vanquishing other people, mating and reproducing, killing and plundering, building and destroying.
Following the star, we reached Bethlehem. The star invited us to enter a cave where we saw a newborn baby. The moment we saw the baby, we felt a pang within. Melchior and Balthazar shared their experiences with me later. We all had an experience of tragedy. Was it another illusion, another dream?
In my dream or illusion, I saw the child’s future. He would grow up becoming increasingly discontented with humanity. With humanity’s greed and envy, dissimulation and treachery, diseases of body and mind, ignorance, falsehood... “I am the light,” he said meaning that each person had to be a light. But people refused to understand him. “I am the way,” he said and people chose to misunderstand again. He sought to liberate them from the evils that oppressed their being. They made him their Messiah. Frustration was his destiny.
Melchior saw him covered with blood at a tender age in his youth.
Balthazar saw crosses in his life.
We looked at the sky. The star had vanished. But the regular constellations continued to occupy their positions in the galaxy. The Hunter and the Great Bear were all there. We longed for a special star.