Yeru Ebuen –
Monday evening was the official launch of one of my colleagues’ book. A permanent fixture in the media scene in the Sultanate, it’s seldom that you meet people who have totally no idea of who Lakshmi Kothaneth is.
I’ve seen the book in its rawest form — when Lakshmi was just putting all her thoughts down recollecting everything that she’s heard from Sheikh Khalfan al Esry. These tidbits of information collected meticulously in a span of more than five years would eventually become The Answer with Khalfan al Esry — a book with all intent of introducing you to the man and understanding the knowledge that he has acquired in his lifetime.
While a review from me would totally be biased towards Laksh, I’m going to talk about the book from a personal experience — its inception and why you should buy and read it. The decision to give it a chance will remain to be yours in the end.
I read the book thrice. Not in its entirety in the first two but a good portion of it.
The first time was when the book’s pages were in different forms of disarray with some corrections yet to be incorporated in a separate clean copy.
Laksh, as I fondly call her, wanted me to go through it and let her know what I think.
I went through the copy looking at it from a critical editor’s point of view. I was more concerned about the structure of it, what comes first and which should come next. I jump from page to page, and on a totally different headspace, the book didn’t connect very well.
But I saw the potential of the book and I told her that the information there, was definitely worthy to be shared with a lot of people.
I didn’t know Sheikh Khalfan but through his thoughts, I was of the opinion that he was a guy who looked at life with a grain of salt, who has good understanding of human adversities and therefore is a great advocate of humanity.
It took several months before Laksh and I had another sit down to discuss the status of the book. I was one of the many people who constantly hounded her to get it printed fast.
The second time I read it was two years later — on a cramped up car filled with video equipment as we were headed to a convention. It was in a much better shape and Laksh was just trying to get someone to sponsor the book for publishing. She’s already dedicated hundreds of hours putting it together and when she handed it to me, I reminded her that I already read it.
In my flat, scattered in one corner are dozens of books. My most recent acquisitions were five books from Agatha Christie and to this day, I only successfully finished one in 12 months. I didn’t have time to go through another one.
But I went through the copy Laksh handed me anyway.
The book is a discussion, a conversation that allows you to talk honestly with yourself. At some point, it asks you questions the answer is only known to you. It makes you reflect on the things that you are doing wrong and the things that are right that you should be doing. It is a book of reminders — of the things you once knew but forgot or the things you totally don’t know but a closer inspection of yourself eventually leads you to an answer.
Reading The Answer the second time for pleasure, I realised the deeper meanings and thoughts written on the pages. Maybe I was just going through something personal that day but the tidbits of knowledge helped me realised a few things.
Between long takes of videos for social media, I told Laksh that there is something about the book that I’m sure will connect well with a lot of people — not just Muslims but people who love to read and are looking for inspiration wherever they can find it.
The book to me was touching, and a part of me wanted to meet Sheikh Khalfan. He seemed to be a good guy to invite for dinner when you are in a mood for a thorough and deep discussion about humanity and how crazy the world has become.
The third reading came in the final format of the book. I was one of the lucky few that Laksh gave the first copies. It gained my two thumbs up.
Not to spoil it for you, it is a good gift for Ramadhan. While many may think that it is a religious book, it’s just touching the surface of what it is really all about.
True, Sheikh Khalfan talked a lot about how to become a good Muslim but the lessons contained are not just exclusive for a specific demographic. Everyone goes through universal problems. And humanity and kindness and being good and doing something amazing for yourself and the people around you are just as universal.
If you’re looking for something to read that is relevant to our times now more than ever, go find yourself a copy.