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‘The Alchemist’ by Paulo Coelho is one of those few books that had become friends with me since I first read it. You know that feeling when you cannot get over certain books, book lovers would know the feeling. And I am sure I am never going to move on on this book, I do not want to. This short fable in the simplest form of writing is a great masterpiece by the author. Coelho has very skillfully portrayed the irony; the book is pregnant with themes and inspiring wisdom. It is one of those kinds of book which can always offer you something when you read it, each time opening up a world of themes and lessons out for you, for you to reach and grab it as per your potential. To many, the book may look very simple and boring and way too straight forward to represent every ‘daily life’ realities, nooks and corners ubiquitous, and characters common place. But the book presents enlightment, a story of enlightment through very mundane happenings. Coelho explores the day-to-day impact of things we often neglect, of how dreams can lead you to places and interactions unknown, of how fate acts not in the way you have always thought of it to be working, of how our lives are controlled by the stood fast beliefs about religion and omens and love. Of how leaving some place, and just moving to some other place, of how such a trivial action can lead you to accomplishments never imagined. Something that I personally like about the book is how interactions are fathomed and entertained throughout the book, the stress it pays on interactions, the lessons that these interactions lead you to, are beautifully expressed. For Santiago’s journey wouldn’t have reached the treasure if he hadn’t met Fatima or Englishman, and how beautifully the idea of limit is abandoned in the novel, it invites you to reach beyond your limits and prohibitions, for you to explore the strangest and wildest of possibilities and you never know where this can lead you. The book opens with Santiago in an abandoned church, falling asleep there along with his flock of sheep and dreaming about strangest things, which leads him to a woman who interprets dreams who asks him to take a journey to find a treasure. And it turns out the treasure is not in the destination, but the journey itself which leads to his self-discovery. The secret lies in pursuing your dreams, for the novel broadly discusses the contrast that lies in following and not following your dreams. The next episode centrals on the very concept of beginner’s luck, once again connecting the dots with action and the initiative you need to take in order to reach some point in life. The episode also highlights the stress of reading through Englishman’s skill of reading. As the novel further unfolds, the delusion that we humans keep ourselves into, about the world and its reality is brought forward. The contradictory scenario that Santiago finds himself in, of pursuing his imagination or following the order of world, along with forward movement emphasizes how movement is necessary though little it be. The crystal Merchant and Santiago in their characters are two perspectives of reality, of how one chooses to stay in his fated life while the other moves on and strive to make his life fateful, something that drives the life of most of us, that divides us humans in two groups. Through the character the Englishman, Coelho has talked about events in timeless tone, and reader is able to see it in more than one context. Also the novel is a struggle of either satisfying or leaving behind the personal legend that each person is in their own self. Of how you may have goal to reach somewhere just like Englishman but your insufficient focus in the right path and right direction leaves you out in the vague. The camel rider’s words of how we are afraid of losing and giving up on our belongings, be it emotions, experiences or properties keep us in perpetual struggle, which may result into passitivity just as seen in the case of Englishman and crystal Merchant. The oasis and Fatima are two signs of how fruitful the journey is going to be. Also when Santiago leaves Fatima behind to move forward, the novel brings forward a change, now we see physical and emotional action in the novel, moving essentially forward, the character now more open and experimenting, leaving behind in time what is meant to stay there and pursuing his journey; Santiago helping Englishman to find Alchemist is in fact moving closer to his own destination. This explains how intertwined our lives and happenings in our lives are, with the lives of other people. Moving forward to transformation when Santiago converses with other forces around the sun, the moon, the air, and desert explains how at some point in life the reality and illusion becomes one, ensuring the possibilities of miracles to happen. With such realization and mastery over senses the journey of the character reaches an end, here the character in novel is left alone to fend for himself as he had learned enough through the process of self exploration. Like any other journey of self exploration, the treasure for Santiago lies where he had started his journey; elucidating that the treasure lies in each one of us, we need enough courage to plunge into our own darkness to find out the light that we are.
My favorite quote from the novel:
“My heart is afraid that it will have to suffer”, said the boy.
Happy Reading everyone. 🙂