Last week a TV crew came to project why. They spent two days capturing the shots they wanted and driving us literally up the wall. When it was over, the producer handed me a form tat he said needed to be filled. It began like all data sheets with queries about name, dob etc.. but then were a host of questions asking for one's favourite things.
At age 55+ it seems a little inane to have to answer favourite actor, food, actress, movie colour, dress and God knows what else, so I simply followed the lead of my excited young colleagues. True there was a time when I did have a list of favourite things, but stilettos gave way to floaters as style was sacrifices at the alter of comfort! However one question caught my eye: what is your favourite book?
This one was for me, my true turf, as books had been my friends, solace, companions and mentors right from my early days. At first glance, it seemed an easy question as was I not the ones who lived and breathed books. I still remember how deeply moved I had been by Francois Truffaut's stunning film Fahrenheit 451 where the possibility of a world without books entered by adolescent mind.
So the question what is your favourite book was one I had to answer myself. easier said than done as I sat pencil in hand trying to recall the innumerable number of books that I had read over the years and finding the one that could truly deserve the attribute of favourite!
My mind rapidly scanned the books I had always professed liking, but each somehow fell short of something. They seemed more to have been in tune with a particular moment of my existence but paled beyond that reality. What I sought was the book that had withstood the vagaries of a lifetime; the one that gave the same intense pleasure each time one opened it; the one that always had the ability to answer the query of the moment no matter what it could be; the one that could soothe frayed nerves and make you believe that life was worth living even in your darkest hour; the one that had never left your bookshelf!
My mind travelled back and forth as many titles came to mind, but only one could answer all the aforesaid questions as well as those not yet formulated as yes there was such a book in my life: The Little Prince by Antoine de St Exupery, a book that had entered my life when I was twelve and that still sits comfortably on my bookshelf.
To many and by the looks of it, The little Prince is a children's book, and I must confess that when I first read it, it did not quite compete with the adventure books that were hot favourites of mine. But I found myself attracted to it in an almost intuitive way and as years passed I often picked up and read bits of it at times when I was confused, sad or lonely.
The Little Prince is a mesmerising book as it seems to address to each one of us and any given time in our lives. It is a quaint philosophical fable written way back in the 1940's but one that retains its freshness as we meet its diverse protagonists: the businessman counting useless stars, or tippler who drinks because he is ashamed of his drinking.
And as you get lost in this world you realise the futility of many things your held as important and the importance of those you overlooked. You are gently taught of the danger of losing your ability to question what you cannot comprehend or what you find absurd. And gently you are led to the one secret that holds true in life and extols you to learn to look with you heart.
In hindsight I now see how deeply this tiny book has helped me and guided me in life and deserves to be my favourite book!