Friday, July 13, 2007

The Witch of Portobello- Paulo Coelho

The book written by Paulo Coelho is another attempt towards spirituality as he has made in his other books, in a manner that slowly takes you into an altogether different realm.

It is one of the masterpieces in terms of language and style, written in an innovative manner. It consists of several opinions and perceptions of people about Sherine Khalil, the protagonist, commonly known as Athena. The story builds upon the various aspects of the same person’s personality because each one has a different perspectives related to what they observed in Athena, a witch, a magician, a challenger, an object of love, selfish women, based on their experience. The way it consolidates various stories, knits them into one of the most wonderful voyages of a women, who was left by her gypsy mother in the childhood and had to struggle though drastic situations to emerge as a spiritual mother in the community, is really captivating.

Athena was named by her parents as Sherine Khalil but she liked herself to be called Athena. She was staying with her parents in Lebanon. Civil war broke out, and she predicted that it will be a very long affair, taking away various lives and causing huge bloodshed. This made her parents to leave the place. They went to Europe.

There she lived a normal life for quite sometime. Meanwhile, she was told that she was an adopted child and her mother was a gypsy. But things restored to normal after that. She fell into love with a person named Peterson in the college, and urged him to marry her at a tender age of 19 years. She wanted her child to have a low generation gap so that they can be friends like, understanding each other in the best possible manner. She wanted to become a mother. Once she achieves her aim by marrying her husband, he gets a feeling that she married him for her own selfish aim. He leaves her and she does not react very strongly. This made him more intent on leaving her. Later, she joined a job and tried to put an end to the emptiness in her life. She loved her child Viorel a lot and tried to keep him off all her worries.

The house she lives in has a person named Pavel Podbielski practicing dance ceremony in his house. This enchanted Athena very much. She feels a spiritual freedom during dance and her energy level reaches to the maximum which makes her feel satisfied and let her concentrate on the bright spot. This also improves her efficiency at work with her colleagues. She lets them learn the same dance which makes her popular to a great extent in the office that her boss envies her. The productivity increases to a record level. This showed her employer that she had a lot of substance in her practices. She helps him get the deserved appreciation through helping him make a presentation of a very spiritual path followed by her, so as to be implemented in other branches as a performance improvement method. The basic concept was that people were happy in their life and were trying to achieve the maximum potential after realizing it in the spiritual dance.

Later she learns calligraphy in the desert by Nabil Alaihi. He helps her learn very quickly and help her attain spiritual feeling during that writing art. He tells her to enjoy it and make it her very own way to realize herself. She follows the technique as well as the art behind it. But in spite of all this, there were times when she felt that there were big gaps in her life. She was not convinced in her life. She is told by the calligrapher that there are blank spaces in her life which are meant to be filled. This makes her decide that she needs to meet her mother, her birth mother who left her to the fate.

While going to the gypsy town, she meets Edda, a woman who knew why she was here and had come to help her understand her life in a better way. She also meets Heron, a journalist, who falls in love with her. All this time, she has fallen in love with some Scotland Police Officer. But his name is told afterwards. She meets her mother Liliana Seamstress and sought her love and questioned her as to why she left her like this. Her mother feels delighted to see her again and tries to answer all her questions. She also wanted her to prosper mad leave the place as soon as possible.Hence she returns to her home. Then she went to meet the woman she met on the way, Edda to learn more about herself and the solutions to her problems. Since then, she learned the art of getting all peace she wanted within herself, performing all sorts of magic and teaching people to think differently and strangely, completely out of any rulebook or leaving behind all perceptions. This brought her to a different platform.
She became the mother, Hagia Sofia, to solve all problems of each individual, though she was the same. She felt a completely different identity within herself. She had a chain of followers, who felt the change within themselves due to her teachings and lectures.

Moreover the journalist helped her wherever she needed him, and loved her silently. His girlfriend Andrea too followed Athena earlier. But then she thought she was a witch who wanted to attract attention and using everybody for political gains. Still she went to Athena and learned from her as the teacher and could learn all methods of teaching others, what she herself didn’t know and learning in the process. This made Andrea, a play actress, an even better performer of such events. During all this process, she was defamed in the city by a person who filed a suit on her that she was violating Christian laws and was a witch. She was terrorizing atmosphere. There were updates on the newspapers and gossips from all sides. Suits were filed for the succession of the child, Viorel. She was troubled by that. She did not want to lose her child and was not ready to subdue to all the rumored news.

She got recorded with her lover Heron’s help, her testament, which contained all her commitments to Heron himself as well as what she needed to tell the world. Her cause, her ambitions, her power and everything that was needed to be told was recorded. Later on she got disappeared and newspapers expressed one day that she was brutally murdered by some gang. This really upset the journalist. Later in the story, the police officer comes across as a spy or the person who collected information through various perspectives understood through a dialogue. It’s Athena’s birthday which is being celebrated on her home. The Scott wanted to gift her record collected by the perspectives discussed in the book.

She did not die but to recover safely from all the problems, she was pretended to have died. So that suit ends there and then. She was sent to another country because she wanted to have a peaceful, contented life with the Scott after all this. Andrea was better at handling the goal of knowledge, thus satisfying the motto of Athena. Hence the story ended as well.
The book explains all the mystery which prevents us from enjoying our life in the fullest manner. It explains the inquisitive and never satisfying qualities of a human. The spiritual learning is very well explained. It is a book which is a must read for all those who have a philosophical bent of mind.

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