✘ The Alchemist

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The Book’s Information
Title: The Alchemist
Author: Paulo Coelho
Published: 1988 (First Published)

Synopsis:
Paulo Coelho’s enchanting novel has inspired a devoted following around the world. This story, dazzling in its powerful simplicity and inspiring wisdom, is about an Andalusian shepherd boy named Santiago who travels from his homeland in Spain to the Egyptian desert in search of a treasure buried in the Pyramids. Along the way, he meets a Gypsy woman, a man who calls himself king, and an alchemist, all of whom point Santiago in the direction of his quest. No one knows what the treasure is, or if Santiago will be able to surmount the obstacles along the way. But what starts out as a journey to find worldly goods turns into a discovery of the treasure found within. Lush, evocative, and deeply humane, the story of Santiago is an eternal testament to the transforming power of our dreams and the importance of listening to our hearts.


My Thoughts

I don’t despise this book, but neither did I enjoy reading it.

Firstly, what caught my attention is the language. The writing is simple, but the words and phrases gave me a headache, it seems a bit off and sounded rather dull. Plus, some words were repeatedly mentioned and I was irritated by it. I understand that it’s partly because of the translation, so I merely focused on the story.

And oh boy- I don’t even know how I finished this book.

For a life-changing book, I did not expect it to be underwhelming and uninspiring, it only tells a fable about an Andalusian shepherd boy named Santiago in search of a treasure while he encounters people and obstacles in his life. Sounded pretty familiar, right? I want to applause for the lack of originality. Even the moral of the story is to follow your “personal legend”. Again, sounded cheesy, but I didn’t receive the message. Instead, what I see is, perhaps, one of the blandest plots I had ever read. I still don’t get how it “transforms the lives of countless readers across generations” when it’s just chunks of phrases with a terrible mixture of religion and spirituality.

So, do I recommend it to others? Obviously, no.

Ratings: Two out of five sheeps.

A Doughnut for Day Dunbar

I rose up from my deep nap.

I heard a slightly fierce knock on the door across the living room. It’s around two in the morning and I was muddled by how anyone would come over to my house at such a late hour. I wearily paced my way to the door and unlocked the latch without diving myself to the malicious possibilities of what awaits for me at the door. I honestly do not bother, my mind is exhausted from the voracious reading of essays that I have taken upon interest from my fellow classmates, all thanks to Mr Geoffrey, the English teacher, for compiling and neatly putting them in a brown envelope. I could have consumed my time devouring an archaic word-filled novel, but I rather amused myself with the grammatical mistakes and the erroneous language used, they often rushed their sentences, creating shortcuts. My classmates knew that I’m a literary freak and the thought of me having to read their written works is humiliating for them, but the consequence is granted and it was enough for me to be entertained.

When I turned the knob and merely opened the door, I was greeted by a child-like face with eyes of pure innocence, my nerves were calm and I felt secured on my spot. I recognised her, her name is Day Dunbar, we both took the same English class and she sat beside me in the front row, we rarely converse with one another, she wasn’t much at all shy, but a jovial creature; she is the heart of the universe and perishing her can disseminate malady. It was surprising to see her face-to-face, her nature was pale, but her crimson lipstick adds a layer of beauty to her. She was a lot inches shorter than me and she wore ebony clothing: black long sleeves and black skinny jeans, they almost camouflaged to the background of twilight. Whereas her fragrance was of cinnamon pumpkin-spiced cookies, which perfectly match her ponytailed auburn hair- she was like the season of autumn and the night is embracing her dearly.

“Miss Dunbar, how delightful seeing you,” I said with my monotonic voice. I even showed an effortless smile. Goodness, I was all worn out.

She intentionally ignored my greeting and my heavy-eyed face, “Let’s go to the nearby doughnut shop,” she said.

I raised an eyebrow at her, she has a handful of cronies that she spent her time with, mostly beings who convey bad influences to others, I can never comprehend why she chose to succumb to their circle of hell. She wasn’t at all gullible from what I see in her, she was just different from them, she displayed modesty and magnanimity, yet her companions are of the opposite, she seems to enjoy their comfort, so I wouldn’t complain much. However, I was curious to why she chose me, even if we’re barely acquainted. I was even more curious about what her intentions are because if it were a shenanigan- a typical high-school dare, it would be ludicrous, I doubt I’ll ever have the same impression of her. The sweet, humble ingénue turned into an ignoramus, I would lose all dignity.

She snapped me out, “So, what do you say?”

I thought it all thoroughly, I couldn’t reject the opportunity to get to know her, at the same time, I wouldn’t want to come out as a fool. But I simply took the risk because I am already a fool to the eyes that met me.

“Sure,” I replied.

“Would you like to change first?”

I looked down and realised that I have been wearing the same clothes since morning, I probably smell of sweat and saliva from my great evening nap. I wasn’t in the mood to change, so I shook my head. I never have a good proper hygiene anyway, and I wasn’t at all embarrassed by it. Then, we headed outside in the middle of the night.

Day walked hastily under the dimmed streetlights and I was lacking behind, fumbling my wallet. She wouldn’t ask me to hurry up and neither would she pause to wait for me, she continues to walk and I quickened my steps to catch up with her. When we reached a nearby doughnut shop, I opened the glass door like a gentleman, but she insisted on letting me go first. To not start any conflict, I entered the shop.

We were the only two customers in Uncle Marty’s Smarty Doughnuts, it isn’t a popular branch, it is a doughnut shop run by Nigel Walker’s uncle and his family. The shop hasn’t been renovated since they opened it, so the furniture was old and out of place, the edges of the couch were torn and the parts of the tiles on the floor were missing. At first, I was disgusted by the interior of the place, but Nigel introduced me to their doughnuts and I genuinely fell in love with them, they are freshly homemade, and it gave me a sentimental value for every bite I took. I guess it wasn’t publicly famous as people tend to underestimate the appearance of the shop.

I bought my typical plain glazed doughnut and an expresso while Day bought a smiley face doughnut with custard filling and a cup of hot chocolate, I liked how it reflected her personality too. We sat near the misty window pane and focused on our late night meal. Even though the setting was perfect for a one-to-one, neither of us was willing to strike up a colloquy, the silence was a wall between us. She wouldn’t even glance at me and would rather much bring all of her attention to her sweet treats while I quietly observed her as I munched on my dull-looking doughnut. She was a lovely nymph but was rather an ungraceful one, she would slightly knock over her hot chocolate and sometimes she pressed the doughnut in a rough manner that the custard filling was squeezed out of the other end. She once took a big bite and the icing painted a moustache right above her upper lips, I handed her a tissue and she doesn’t seem too embarrassed by it. Every action she made, clumsy or not, I adore them, those little moments make her look like a real thing, it’s ineffable for me to explain, my eloquence lost its utterance, it’s either my mind is in a disorganised mess or she, in front of me, had eaten my words as well.

By the time we finished consuming, I almost wished the night didn’t end. We stepped outside of Uncle Marty’s Smarty Doughnuts, and I finally got the courage to break the wall of silence.

“Would you like me to walk with you to your home?”

She took a glance at me and nodded profusely. Her eyes were big and hazel, it shimmers under the streetlight, making my ticker flutter.

~

After I drop by at her house, which is a street away from mine, I scurried my way home. I opened my front door and a pleasant welcome of the sweet sillage of Day’s scent still lingers around the entrance, arousing my nostrils. I took a deep inhalation and stroll towards the messy pile of essays scattered on the floor, I accumulate them and properly place the stack on top of the coffee table. Then, I grabbed my black-leathered ruled notebook and fountain pen sitting beside the papers and randomly turned to a page.

“October 9, 2016, two things I loved doing today: reading my classmates’ poorly written essays and Day Dunbar.”

 

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Hell Hath No Fury Like a Woman Scorned

a blanket of roses

over her lithe body,

and candle wax

on her pale fragile face.

no crimson flowing,

and her eyelids locked.

drowned in eternal peace.

once she consumes heaven,

oh, she’ll be beautiful.

but haunted by vices,

dances on carcases

and malice she wore

displays her wrath.

how graceful she laid there,

how beautiful she once was.

what beauty

can hell make of her?

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Cloaked in Grey

i, a child, shadowed among nature’s woes.

with my eyes peering on hints of greys,

i was in disgrace with the world too dreary.

and feelings mismatch the colour theory.

⠀⠀⠀
paints, all too familiar, looked the same.

my landscape pictures a mad atmosphere,

but i’m only sane, no luck to become an artist

when melancholia is splattered in canvases.

⠀⠀⠀
but i knew chameleons flash in vibrant hues,

and i longed to keep one, bigger than my shoe.

if i’m camouflaged to the greys of hollowness,

i need a chameleon cloaked to the colourfulness.

⠀⠀⠀
/part one/

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Bide One’s Time

i wait without a doubt

merely for what seems like decades,

i did not bother to hesitate,

but for every date,

it slowly decimates

my inner strength of having to wait.
⠀⠀⠀

i told myself to keep it up

and look at the eternal bright side,

even the night sky

burst with shimmering dots

is helping me not to rot

while i’m wide awake

to resume the days

and not lose my faith.
⠀⠀⠀

then, there was a moment

where i don’t want to wait

because i became another bait

waiting to be devoured

by wandering fishes

of the peaceful lake,

the hook jabbed through me

was like my heart put at stake

and the crimson pouring out,

it was spread across the lake.
⠀⠀⠀

this time, i didn’t have to wait.

i did it for my own’s sake.

but it felt like i’ve made

a huge mistake,

even during the late hours,

i entered my mind’s gate

and began to contemplate

on why i stopped the days

of having to wait.
⠀⠀⠀

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Picture-perfect

NOTE: The long, doozy title of this short story is called “The Parable of the Painter Who Never Paints” And it’s actually a parable, there’s definitely a hidden message in this.

Plus, I was inspired by my own poem called “The Untold Tale of the Painter Who Never Paints From the Optimist’s Perspective.

Nevertheless, I wrote this story for our English class’ project and we were tackling a topic about parables, fascinating.

Didn’t get a perfect score, but I’m totally alright with it.


  There was a painter who never paints. He always proclaimed his artistic values, even though, he is reluctant to paint a single being. Every time he sees a blank canvas, it burdens him as it reflects on him and his inability to paint. As a composed person, he accepts his own incompetence as he held his paintbrush closely to his heart- his opportunity shall be worth the wait. 

  The painter attended a masquerade wherein he recluse himself from the crowd. While he enjoys the solitary output of his life, someone unexpectedly interferes with his solitude; startling him. 

  “You must be a painter! Please do paint a portrait of me,” said the sophisticated vagabond.

  The painter’s eyes were wide with disbelief, he almost forgot about the fact that he is a painter. (Well, sort of.) Then, he sighed and explain his inabilities, sincerely.

  The sophisticated vagabond pats his back and philosophically enunciate the certain aspects of life. He also states his adventures and his great achievements with many stories fit for a king, despite being a homeless person, he considered himself a wanderer of freedom.

  After hearing the life story of the vagabond, the painter was crestfallen and became insecure. The vagabond felt a pinch of remorse as he noticed him. He, then, encourages the painter that he would one day be the greatest painter who ever lived.

  All that inspirational talk was overheard by the lady with the top hat, she suddenly became infatuated by the vagabond. Her oblivious-self started to arise- coming to the days of being naive with romantic pleasures. 

  When the vagabond and the painter went to their separate paths after a great colloquy, the lady appeared in front of him, take his hands and dragged him in the middle of the masquerade dance. He was in a state of confusion at first, but he decided to play along. The vagabond and the lady- a trusting pair of strong bodies, lacking in worries, performing “Pas de Deux.” 

  When their eyes met each other, her heart was racing and she was prepared to kiss him. However, a thought from the back of her mind was preventing her from doing it as she realized how oblivious she was with her purity. The lady quickly apologized to the vagabond who chuckled and compliment her dancing skills.

  Out of the eyes, there was a misanthrope who has been observing the two and mumbles to herself about how she despised them due to their childish acts that represent humanity and the insufferable ignoramus.

  After the lady and the vagabond waved farewell to one another, the lady noticed the misanthrope and approached her as she was seemingly lonely in the crowd. Suddenly, the lady grabbed the misanthrope’s hands and danced around the room.

  The misanthrope thought that it was an unpleasant thing to do, but as they kept on dancing, she found herself enjoying the music and following the rhythm which the hate could ever eradicate, but she chose not to expose such hatred.

  

  When the misanthrope went out to get some fresh air, she felt someone rumbling through her purse, when she turned her head, it was a gentleman.

  The gentleman tipped his top hat, “My apologies, m’lady.”

  She has an intuition that he is obviously trying to steal her money. Instead of aggressively exposing her loathe like she would often do to mortals, she generously gives the money that he was trying to snatch. The gentleman gave her an odd look as she walks away.

  “What a magnanimous human being,” the gentleman mumbles to himself as he counts the money.

  To his surprise, she gave him more than what he expected to have. With his extra money, he felt the urge to be benevolent to others in order to get rid of the guilt that has been stuck in him for almost eternity.

  As he walks along the footpath, his attention was caught by the girl who doesn’t have enough expenses to buy her meal. Looking at his money, he walk towards her and gave her the money. The famished vigorous girl was surprised and thanked him repeatedly.

  “It was my pleasure,” said the gentleman as he leaves.

  The famished girl bought her meal with a refreshment and she sat on a bench while she ravenously eats her food. Although she is seemingly healthy, her stomach was hungry while her mind wanders off thinking about the endless possibilities of having unlimited food.

  Then, a man with one and a half leg(s) came and sat beside her as the two watched the runners sticking to one another, running as if they are completing a marathon. The girl looked at the crippled man, he was wearing a running attire. 

  With curiosity, she asked, “Why aren’t you running with them?”

   The crippled man showed his leg(s), “Well, isn’t it obvious? Plus, I would rather sit here than run with those fools, I need to relax.”

  “You certainly are missing an opportunity, here take this,” the girl handed him a refreshment as she left him alone- thinking that he would reflect on his ne’er-do-well self.

  The crippled man drank his refreshment and stand on his two feet, he realised that an achievement would come at the other side if he would take a step. He began running funnily. Then, passersby saw him and began cheering and chanting. The crippled man felt the wind of courage as he break into a sprint. There were people clapping and putting their fists into the air in delight. Except for one, the painter who never paints. Seeing the crippled runner reminds him of a blank canvas and his insecurities came back to break him. He wishes he was as industrious as the crippled runner who sets as an image of someone who would never give up.

  Feeling hopeless, he wanders off and began reflecting. He realizes that if he were to paint the world, the universe, and the people- a blank canvas would be the only thing existing, his reluctancy does not make him self-absorbed and he knew, personally, he can’t paint. He’ll still call himself a painter, though, even if the people mocked or bashed him. Surely, he is not an arrogant one, he is not selfish and neither is he a hypocrite. 

  Because he too was never painted picture perfect.

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The Untold Tale of the Painter Who Never Paints from the Optimist’s Perspective

if this youth were to paint a maiden, picture perfect,
he too would be revolved around the sun.
presumably, selfish; self-absorbed-
and that’s what I ought,
but he hesitates to touch the paintbrush
and honestly never painted anything or anyone,
even him, himself, and his reflection in the mirror.
supposedly, he ain’t selfish, self-absorbed,
nor a hypocrite.
yet he proclaimed the fact that he is a painter,
even though he is reluctant to paint a person.
he ain’t arrogant too, he’s just scared.
terrified to be the unworthy one.
then, why he is considered to be a painter
if he can’t paint a single object or a face.
he can actually paint!
the problem is he has never tried doing so.
if he were to paint the world, the universe, and the people-
a blank canvas would be the only thing existing,
but the picture can only stay still,
while the thoughts that formed a ring
spun uncontrollably; surrounding his mind
not to burden him, nor making him a ne’er-do-well.
he’ll still call himself a painter,
even if you mocked or bashed him.
surely, he is not an arrogant one, I promised,
he is not a hypocrite, I swear.
because,
he too, was never painted picture perfect.

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Ms. Right, He Despised

He suppressed his agonising thoughts
of being unwantedly alone,
after encountering a holder of silence-
a maiden who was mistakingly known
to be a phlegmatic being,
but inside, she was grandly more
than what the population is seeing.

He felt an urge in his throbbing heart;
the desire to share his desolation
with her and her preserved quietude
in order to make an imminent relation
despite their different attributes.

The pain in his ticker
is getting stronger with a new agony
that he’ll never stop to bicker.
He constantly dreamt his maiden
and ought to fathom her deeply.
Then later waking up in denial,
realising he missed her, dearly.

How is he enduring such woe?
If his maiden hadn’t expressed
the love he wished to hear
causing him to be distressed,
likewise to live with loneliness,
he utterly despised.
Now he regains his solitude
to provide himself some respite
from the inevitable suffering,
but he was unknowingly loved
by the maiden of silence
whom she first thought to be unloved.

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Flip the Page

He flipped through the pages
Of his new book, that has a ton of pictures in it
And it contains simple words- a little amount of it.
For every word he read wrongly,
His father would kiss him in the forehead
And his mother would teach him the words.
Then, the teacher in his kindergarten class
would give him a butterfly sticker and a thumbs-up
Because he wrote a simple story
That he copied from the book with pictures on it.

He flipped through the pages
Of his new book, that has a ripped page in it.
His father said that it was his favourite book,
But he complained that there were no pictures.
Yet, his father kisses him in the forehead
And understand that he was young and naive.
And his teacher gave him a shiny gold star
Because he wrote a poem entitled, “Pictures.”
His mother put it in a picture frame and hugged her son.
While the father went out with a lot of money.

He flipped through the pages
Of his new thick book with no pictures at all.
He heard a lot of screaming and shouting
From the other room.
When his father came out,
He complained that the book was too violent.
His father scolded him and threw the book across the room.
Then, his substitute teacher wrote a remark
At the back of his paper
In his poem entitled, “Malice.”
Stating that it was too vicious.
He didn’t show it to neither his mother nor father.
So, he hung it in his wall with the other poems he wrote.

He flipped through the pages
Of a newspaper because he doesn’t have any books left.
He decided to write a story for him to read
As he does not want to bother his father
Who was snoring loudly while holding onto a bottle.
His teacher never gave him a score
Because she slept soundly at her desk thrice.
The students chuckled and continue their works.
His mother picked him up from school
And in their car, it has a strong smell of cologne,
But his mother only wears perfume
And his father never drives the car because he doesn’t know how.
He ignored the smell and showed the story to his mother
Who ended up crying so hard after reading.
He was confused as he wrote a funny story.

He flipped through the pages
Of an old book that he constantly repeat.
He asked his father to buy him a book.
His father nodded and head out.
When he came back, the father gave him a library book.
He was upset, yet, he read it anyway.
Then, he wrote a poem called, “Farewell.”
Whom he gave it to his teacher
Who was carrying a box of her belongings.
The teacher never gave him a perfect score,
So when he went home, he gave himself a star.
That was the time, she join his father
And they both drink while singing the blues.
His mother cried a lot that her make-up was ruined.
He threw her revealing clothes to the laundry basket
And hugged her son with the smell of cologne in her.

He flipped through the pages
Of his library book, that was from the previous day.
His mother gave him some money that she earned.
Even though, she doesn’t have a job.
His father went home unexpectedly,
With a smell of perfume that his teacher always wear.
His mother and father would never kiss each other
His father asked his son to hand him the money
So that he could buy him a new book that he wanted.
The one with dragons and knights fighting one another,
But he didn’t.
He wrote a poem called, “In the Dark Room.”
His new teacher gave him a bad score
Because it wasn’t related to the topic
That was assigned to him.

He flipped through the last page
Of his library book, that has a devastating ending.
He gave the book to his father who looked sophisticated
And asked him to return the book to the library.
He nodded and continue grabbing his belongings.
His mother put the clothes in a suitcase,
This time, she never cried at all.
His father carried the suitcase and head outside
With the library book in his other hand.
He stared at his father as he took a cab,
This time, he didn’t think
His father would ever return.

He flipped through the pages
Of his new book, that has a ton of pictures in it
And it contains simple words- a little amount of it.
He read every word correctly,
But his mother didn’t kiss his forehead
Because those were the only books she could buy.
Then, the teacher in his senior class
Scolded him for being a ne’er-do-well
Because he wrote a simple story
That he copied from the book with pictures on it.

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