Saturday, June 09, 2007

Like the Flowing River

I have heard of Paulo Coelho, but never thought of reading his work until recently, especially after hearing lots of good stuff about his renowned book, The Alchemist. I bought Like the Flowing River from Kinokuniya, KLCC. Later, I bought Veronika Decides to Die and The Devil and Miss Prym from MPH online (May promotion of 30% discount).

Like the Flowing River -- translated from the Portuguese by Margaret Jull Costa -- is a collection of his thoughts and reflections. It contains accounts of his own experiences and stories others told him, condensed into this book. Each story takes about 3 minutes to read (he said that himself too).

Some of the stories told are profound and thought provoking. I have a few favourites, which I will highlight as follows:

The Story of the Pencil: In this story, there was a boy who asked his grandmother if she was writing about him. She replied yes, but more important than the words she said, was the pencil she was using. She went on to explain the five qualities of the pencil which, if the boy hangs on to, will make him always at peace with the world.

The Cloud and the Sand Dune: It is a story of a young cloud who falls in love with a young sand dune. There is rarely rain the desert and when it does, the dunes call the rain paradise for they say that after rain, they are covered with grass and flowers. And the young dune said she will never experience that, and that she has no purpose in life. The young cloud felt the same way too about himself. He decided to rain on the sand dune and abide there forever. He is not afraid of dying for he said love never dies but is transformed. And so it happened. The next day, the young dune was covered in flowers. Other clouds passed over, thought that it must be part of the forest they were looking for and rained some more. Twenty years later, the dune had been transformed into an oasis.

God's Sign: A wealthy caravan owner asked his elderly illiterate servant why he prayed with such fervour every night when he doesn't even know how to read. The servant explained by asking the owner a few questions leading to the answer. He invited the owner outside and showed him the sky: "Neither the things written up there, nor the desert down below, could have been made or written by the hand of man."

This book provides a glimpse of how Paulo Coelho sees the world and his experiences, and should be read with an open mind. He is a reflective man. One gets a glimpse of his personality too.