I bought the book with a lot of excitement. Alchemist had touched my heart. Aleph had refined my soul. Veronica decides to die gave me so much pain. The Zahir triggered in me more questions about the worthiness of relationships than answers that can console. Eleven minutes taught me about love beyond lust. The winner stands alone tried to dissect my personality and left me in loneliness.
None of these things happened while I read Manuscript found in Accra. Actually, I was disappointed in my first reading of the entire 194 pages on a moving train. I was impatient to reach a safe destination. But I couldn’t. My mind travelled faster than the train. Faster than the responses by Copt (the strange man and the hero in the book), who believed only in the present moment. But I had already reached the destination, without actually been there.
This happens, as we face battles everyday with one aim. We argue, fight, and justify. I looked at the scars. I felt sad. I felt lonely without realizing that at life’s most significant moments we are always alone.
I had to read again to get the meanings of the answers. And it said: ‘Only those who fail to recognize that inner strength will say ‘I lost’, and be sad’. I didn't understand. He said: ‘Scars speak more loudly than the sword that caused them’
The book talks about failures. Who has not tasted failure? But with each failure, we get depressed. We think, that is the end of everything. Why did I try? Why did I waste my time? Is it for losing the battle? He says: ‘I am here to tell you that there are people who have never been defeated. They are the ones who never fought.’
Did we hear someone calling us useless? Did we call someone useless? Why didn't we appreciate that each soul that came down to earth is here for a reason. Nothing is useless.
We see beauty all around. We see colourful opportunities everywhere. But we fail to understand that the brightest light comes from within and not from the cosmetics, language or expression.
I learned all this and more when I attempted a second reading of the book. Eighteen people representing varied perspectives of life asked the ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ to Copt who shared from his wisdom. No answer is unique. We have heard all those he said from great men and women in history, from scared texts and all those advisers we have among our friends, relatives and teachers.
Then what is unique about the book?
All of us love a life full of roses. But unfortunately very few of us are ready to face challenges, disappointments and difficulties patiently without losing hope. The ‘manuscript’ gives a message that there is no shortcut to success and happiness. The miracles happen in life by transforming wheat into bread through work (not by being idle), the grape into wine through patience (not by hurry-worry), and death into life through the resurrection of dreams (not by losing hope). Success is possible for anyone irrespective of his position in the social ladder. The book says, ‘each time we see the humble exalted and the arrogant humbled, we are witnessing a miracle’.
The central theme of the book, according to me, is the message of peace and hope. Manuscript found in Accra is the transcription of a document Paulo Coelho received from the son of an English archaeologist Sir Walter Wilkinson who discovered it in 1974 in Egypt. The origin of the manuscript was traced to a place called Accra, outside the Egyptian territory.
“I fell asleep and dreamed that life was only
I woke and discovered that life was
I did my Duty and discovered that life was
Happiness. (Page 118)
Manuscript found in Accra, Paulo Coelho, HarperCollins, 2013, 194 pages
© Sibichen K Mathew
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