I’m not a book addict. If you ask me what I am currently reading I will probably stare right back at you and say your soul. Smile to myself. And feel smug. I don’t have a big collection at home. So I cannot take pictures and post it on social media. I do take pictures of beer though. And whisky. Sometimes vodka. Rarely vodka. When there’s a conversation as to why so and so African writer thinks another so and so African writer is unauthentic I look at my skin. I don’t qualify as dark. I am a chocolaty milky brown. Nothing distinct about my face. No chiseled jaw. I do have a prominent nose though. It’s almost white. I often get told I have a white man’s nose. That and that it must get in the way when I try to kiss a lady. So I don’t poke my nose (see what I did) in matters black.
I was poring over blogs. Everyone has one now. Owning a blog has suddenly become a prerequisite into joining the social media elite. There’s the notion that that’s where the money is. Government and corporates are racing to hire keyboard warriors. Most, are complete hogwash. So in between the sack of imperial bank – Owaahh is brilliant, Biko talking about a Chivas readers lounge – which I went and never found – instead I ended up in Sierra Brassiere which is a story for another day, and some feminine inspired Andanje I thought it was time. Time to do a review I have been putting off.
A few weeks back, on a Friday, I walked into Yaya center book stop. Browsed over thousands of books. Not knowing exactly what I was looking for. I just knew it would find me. So I walked in between the aisles. In no particular order. Nodded in affirmation to the people around me. Bookstores are eerily silent. The sound of the fans rotating and the muffled conversation of some of the attendants were all it had to offer. I got called a liar once, for saying that books have a smell. But they do. Each page a musky papery scent. Almost overwhelming. Some, the older ones, smelt like dried tree barks. Side note: Imagine a book scented cologne?
‘Hey, sir is that John Grisham?’
‘Yes. How did you know?’
‘I have a nose for these things. But tell me sir what line of Grisham’s is that?’
‘My good man, this is conspiracy.’
I have noticed that among us writers. There’s a clique. Who’d think right? An elitist group, a non-elitist group and in-between. It’s like spoilt kids. Only instead of who has a black c63 AMG fine-tuned by evolve UK. They pride themselves on views. Corporate contracts. Revenue generation. Books read. Book collections. Measuring dicks. Intellectual bravado. It makes me sick. Nauseous. I avoid them.
Back to book stop. I walked between the shelves of books. Each title promising nights in the embrace of soothing words and magnificent plots. The thought that millions of words. Thousands of hours. Liters of tear and sweat. Writer frustration. Strained relationships. Lay in those shelves. It was humbling. Then I came across it. An orange book. Maybe yellow. A Paul Coelho. I knew that was it. The book I would take home. Like you’d see a woman and know. That they were the one. I took it off the shelf, paid for it. I felt a feeling of pride sweep over me.
It’s not such a big book. It didn’t take me long to race through the pages. But when I was done I questioned my worthiness to write a review. Very few writers have the ability to capture a snapshot of your life with such pin point accuracy you can see the self-doubt. Somewhere in between the fields of Andalusia and the pyramids of Egypt I followed a shepherd’s boy dream – Santiago. Watch him lose everything. Watch him doubt everything. Watch him go on nothing. Watch him doubt himself. Watch him believe in himself. In his dream. Watch him follow his heart. Watch him find his treasure.
I want to talk about his recurring dream and his insatiable need to travel the world. How meeting a king, Melchizedek, changes it all. How the words “when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you achieve it” felt both comforting and discouraging at the same time. How I thought it must be easy for Santiago. A fictional character. To sell off his fictional sheep. And travel a world tailored for his fictional story. How I wanted it all to be so unreal. So far from me. To justify my complacency. But I couldn’t. Something riled up. Inside of me. A longing to chase my dream. It’s always the first step that is hardest I thought to myself. To chase my personal legend. Something I have always wanted to accomplish.
The Alchemist. A man that can change lead into gold. Possesses the elixir of life. A mysterious man. A philosopher. A man I wish I did not meet. A man that changes the very belief systems I had in place. The comfort of my zone. Talks about men, some like me, most like me. Only after the treasure that comes with finding personal legends. A man that challenges Santiago, a shepherd boy, into challenging himself. Into asking the world questions. Into finding answers. Into reading the signs. Omens. Translating them.
True to his word. The shepherd boy followed his dream. Went out to find his treasure. The universe conspired to help him. Until he found what he was looking for. His personal legend. And the treasure that came with it. Towards the end the book introduces us to a man. A man that ignored his legend. Dismissed his dream. Lost out on his treasure. And the saddest part of it to me was he will never know. To never know is something I cannot live with. There is bliss in ignorance. Ignorance. But in knowledge there is power. I’d rather die powerful. So I must know.