THIS WEEK’S WINNER
Aljon H. Elladora, 19, is a senior accounting student of PUP though his true passion is writing. He started writing short stories when he was in high school at the Batasan Hills National High School. He is a Quezon City and Charity First Foundation scholar.
MANILA, Philippines - I knew it was still too early to get up for I could hardly open my eyes, but then, the same odd little voice that woke me up few minutes ago came again. I peered through my lashes, and kept my view like a very small circle in the center of a moving plasma of darkness. It was when I saw this most extraordinarily small person that he spoke again: “If you please, draw me a sheep?”
Suddenly, sleepiness left me. I was wide awake, blinking my eyes hard. I looked around me, but the boy was no longer in my room. Could it be nothing more than my imagination? Most probably it was because when I saw the book I had just finished reading last night, settled neatly beside my pillow, that voice reverberated inside my head. Oh, Little Prince! Bit by bit I came to understand the secrets of your sad life.
The Little Prince, or Le Petit Prince as it was entitled originally, by French aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupery was written in 1943 after his plane crashed in the Sahara Desert. With a scarce supply of liquid, he became so dehydrated that he started having vivid hallucinations after the second day. It could have been during those intervals that the Little Prince paid him a visit. No wonder Antoine crafted the story as though it was for real.
The book is about a little prince from a very small planet who embarks on a journey to see what there is beyond what his eyes can see. He has six different planets in his itinerary before reaching Earth. On each planet, there is a grown-up who is foolish in his own accord.
Indeed, for a majority of adults, children are often less sensible but the book makes it clear that understanding the plain beauty of life, nature and friendship is far less inane than a thick compilation of numbers, knowledge and some other “matters of consequence.” Talking about bridges, golf, politics and neckties does not give a person true understanding.
There are many witty remarks from creatures depicted as far wiser than men. A fox makes the prince, and me as well, realize that it is only with the heart that one can see rightly. What is essential is invisible to the eye. I agree that we become responsible forever for what we have tamed. In this vast world where billions of people reside, why are some people just more special than others? It is because we have chosen the people we love. We have tamed them from the rest of the crowd, and in a way, they have also tamed us. The time we have spent with them makes them so important.
A desert flower talks of men having no roots, which lets the wind blow them around, making life hard for them. These people are those who do not follow a sense of direction, a mission for existence, and a benchmark of how to live properly. It is about constant discontentment, and dissatisfaction that makes someone already in possession of too much, still crave more. It explains why there is corruption, causing life to be very difficult especially for us Filipinos.
A short essay is not enough to express every lesson the book wants us to learn. If we are to squeeze out all its essence, we might come up with another book triple times thicker than The Little Prince itself.
What really hooked me about this book is the compelling drama behind each lesson, and the captivating lesson behind each scene. I have already read it more than 10 times, but I still weep at its finale. It is a cliché that nothing lasts forever. Life ends at death, but there is one thing that can stand the test of time — the memories of friendship. Although the physical shell may wear out, the things and experiences two persons have shared remain in every grain of sand, in each breath of the wind, and in every sinew of a lifeless body.
In the end, like all the rest of us, the Little Prince came back to where he came from, but he left the stars as the laughing bells for the narrator.
I could not resist wondering what could be the best thing to make the people I love remember me. I could use the stars — but no longer as laughing bells at night as they are already owned by the narrator. How about stars that dance or stars that wink perhaps? The prince taught me that I can have everything, but first, I must start hoping. “Everything” does not literally mean having every thing, but more owning just my heart’s desire.
I have read and appreciated other books — like the Twilight saga, Harry Potter series, Dan Brown’s Langdon adventures, and Sheldon’s books — but by the end of the day, I still settle down to The Little Prince. The simplicity of the plot, and the pang of reality twisted into a web of refreshing and appealing storytelling surely hit the reader like a bullet digging into his heart. It hit me, and I dare you, it can do the same to you.
So, for the narrator whose story has been told, I shall wait for a time, under the stars. Then, if a little man appears who laughs, who has golden hair and who refuses to answer questions, I will know who he is. If this should happen, I shall comfort him, and send out word that he has come back.