We hear that Kerala has the highest literacy rate in the country. Malayali people are just as ardent book lovers as Bengali people. In a heart-warming incident, the world-famous author Paolo Coelho has waved a twitter “hello” to the 55-year-old Malayali rickshaw puller and brought international attention to him and Kerala.
KA Pradeep, 55, resident of Cherai near Kochi, has been driving a rickshaw for the last 25 years. We often find the slogans of different kinds, often in their own league, from heartbreak sonatas to one line instructions on how to lead the life, written on the backs of rickshaws. In this case, Pradeep, highly impressed by reading the Malayalam translation of Paolo Coelho’s novel “The Alchemist” ten years ago, expressed his love for the literary work he loved the name of its author, by showcasing them on back of his rickshaw.
An interesting twist in the tale came when the world-renowned author himself tweeted a photo of the back of a rickshaw written in English by Paolo Coelho and The Alchemist in Malayalam, along with “Kerala, India (Thank You Very Match for the Photo)” and the tweet went viral with 23000 likes in no time.
The Alchemist, originally written in Portuguese, is a novel by author Paulo Coelho, first published in 1988. The novel has been translated into more than 80 languages as an international bestseller and has sold over 65 million copies so far. In the metaphor of a Andalusian shepherd’s journey to the pyramids of Egypt, there is a beautiful parable of a man’s journey for self-discovery. Paolo Coelho, a 74-year-old Brazilian writer, is active on Twitter and has more than 1.5 million followers.
Pradeep’s neighbours and friends identify him as a literary man. Pradeep has read all of Paolo’s novels. Thanks to new age technology, it has become possible for a literature lover from one corner of the world to be noticed by the writer he admires. Pradeep was overjoyed when he was told that Paolo Coelho had taken note.
Such an interaction between a writer and a reader is welcome good news, when stories of ill effects of social media abound.