Brida is the latest book to come from Paulo Cohelo. It was first published in 1990 in Portuguese, I believe; right after The Alchemist in 1988. For some reasons, it remained inaccessible to the English readers all these years. It has been inspired from a real story of a woman named Brida. Like all of Cohelo’s previous books, it is indie writing. It would be unfair to compare any of his books with this one. The fans of Cohelo know that he is not about stories and twists and turns of plot. He is not always inspirational in conventional sense of word. The only running thread in all his works is his conviction that one must be true to one own self.
`Brida’ is the story of a young girl who wants to learn magic. Simple as it may sound, there is more to her quest than she realises. She seeks out Magnus, the master, to learn magic but she must overcome her fears and learn to have faith in the protective presence of spirit of Universe before she can start learning magic. ‘Brida’ is about the spiritual journey of a young woman in pursuit of fulfilment of her destiny and in search of her soul mate, but along the way, it touches various other spiritual premises.
The first thing Brida encounters and conquers is her fear. She is left alone in a forest by Magnus after the night fall. She is scared stiff and after thinking briefly concedes that shouting for help would do no good. While reciting psalm 91 that her grandmother taught her, the meaning of faith dawns on her. To trust in something which you can’t see at the moment is faith. She starts trusting in benign and protective presence of her guarding angels and her fears evaporates. She sleeps like a child in the midst of dark forest whole night to walk away as a wiser and more determined person the next morning.
Though witches and various schools of witchcraft may seem to be the principle theme of the novel, equally strong undercurrent of the book is the study of love and how it affects our lives. Magnus takes one look at her and knows that she is his soul mate even though she is half his age. In his heart he knows that he will have to suffer. Suffering while loving seems inevitable as loving is almost always followed by the desire to possess. And love is such an entity that it cannot be possessed. It is most vibrant till it is possessed, like a flower which he gives to Brida at the end of the novel. It’s most beautiful when it is blooming but the moment it is plucked to be owned, it starts dying. Writer talks about our eternal search for our soul mates. The only way to find them is to keep looking for love, and not be afraid to make mistakes. For the only way to learn anything is by making mistakes. The question that jumps to the mind is why do we look for a soul mate? Among other things, only our soul mate is capable of teaching us what we need to know. Knowing that our soul mate exists is one reason for us to be alive.
Along with love and desire to be with the loved one comes another dilemma. Is the age old adage “everything is fair in love and war” true? Can a person be forgiven for using unfair means (magic) to win the love and company of the object of his love one? Writer believes that each soul has its own path to follow to undergo certain experiences and learn what it has come to learn in a particular life time. Each soul possesses a free will and under no circumstances free will of any person is to be interfered with. Those who do that are condemned to long spells of loneliness. At times, Magnus is tempted to reveal to Brida that she is his soulmate but he resists his urge to that as he is already leading a lonely life for using magic to banish another man from the life of Wicca, his one time lover.
The author extensively talks about the fear of making mistakes and failure which impede our learning. Brida is young and this fear of failure stops her from sticking to any one field of learning until she overcomes her doubts about her own abilities. This is true to most people as we all are constantly plagued by doubt whether we are good enough for following our dreams, to achieve what we want to. But Cohelo is of the opinion that constant doubt and courage to overcome it is the path to learn and grow. The moment we stop doubting, we grow complacent and stop moving forward.
My personal favourite is the message he gives through the story that Brida’s mother tell her. Finding one important thing in life does not mean giving up all other important things. We all need to remember that because once we find what we consider most important, we are likely to relegate other things in the background. But to live a complete and wholesome life we need to include all that is important.
Though not as resplendent with inspirational messages as some of his classics, Brida has its own share of inspirations for those who are looking for them. Cohelo talks about the gifts that all of us carry within us even without being aware of it. We need to recognise these gifts. These 9 spiritual gifts are mentioned in the 1 Corinthians chapter 12. By talking about these, writer wants to show that Almighty loves all of us equally and bestow us all with his gifts. It’s up to us to ignite that divine spark within us and lead a life full of miracles. But we have the choice of turning our backs to our true divine selves and leading a miserable life.
Writer has very powerfully and with great sensitivity portrayed the force of sexual union between a man and a woman. To a more conservative reader, use of all five senses to experience the ultimate ecstasy during such a union may sound rather outrageous. But that ecstasy has been often compared to the ecstasy experienced by the seers after years of meditations. The awakening of all five senses to experience the ultimate union is what can never be taught or explained. Pity, that most people go through this experience half asleep as they tend to go through life itself.
There are a number of other important messages he conveys like the importance and power of spoken word. He describes them as bridges between visible and invisible. The mean to move from the no manifested to the manifested. And then Cohelo talks about the gifts that each one of us posses and the need to recognize it. These spiritual gifts are enlisted in Corinthians’ chapter 12. Another thing that he emphasises on is that nothing should ever be rejected without giving it a good thought. For he says, “Even a stopped clock is right twice a day”.
Resplendent with messages, this is a book in which everyone can find what they are looking for in life. And like all his previous books, this one is also about being true to oneself and living to fulfil our destiny, never mind the price.