[Book Review] حسن والمانجو

A short story I have recently read called 'Hassan and Mango' in Arabic that was distributed by the Rikaz campaign (and written by Abdulkareem Alshatti). At first, the title sounded silly and uninteresting at all, but why not? Is the question we should ask ourselves before judging the book by its cover.

There was a young man who loved visiting his rich friend, Hassan both for his friendship and the delicious mango Hassan's Dad brought from all around the world.

The writer wrote various sayings (or rather conclusions), explaining his thoughts;

(1) If your father was working late at work then know that he's earning extra cash to assist your family.
(2) Wealth doesn't necessarily buy you Mangos but it gifts it to you.
(3) When you're rich, you become useless.
(4) You have to be smart to become rich with lots of properties and this needs serious work with a respective certificate.

His role model was Hassan's Dad, who enjoyed spending his day at work, discussing topics that weren't of the writer's interest and reading intriguing books with deep meanings. Hassan's Dad behaviour was curious as the writer never understood why a rich person would benefit from socializing with people when he already has the money he needs.

Both friends entered college, and still the dream of becoming rich someday, haunted the writer so he decided to work at a restaurant as a waitress. The other day, he was surprised that Hassan did the exact same thing. The writer earned for tips, but Hassan wasted his time in helping old people, talking with this or that without getting paid. This sounded ridiculous to the writer. Why would you take an extra-time at work for nothing?

When Hassan was asked the same thing, his reply was this: This is the joy in life, it's of being responsible of anything, no matter how small or big it is…to feel the starvation of poor people or injustice that others are suffering from. If you chose to live for yourself, then selfishness would surely kill you.

The two grew old, got married and had kids. The writer was still engrossed in ways of becoming richer by the day while Hassan majored in weird, useless things (according to the writer) such as volunteer work, lectures world wide about safety, etc.

Even though, the writer felt proud of his achievements and reminded himself of how far he got to and that there is absolutely no reason to feel jealous of Hassan anymore but…

One day, the writer visited Hassan and rare types of mangos were presented. The writer could not get it. How come no one sends HIM these types of mangos from all around the world? But that's where he found his answers…

Hassan is now an educated man, who gets called to present lectures world wide…
Hassan now has lots of charity institutes that add up in his good deeds…
Hassan now is surrounded with a great deal of people that loves him…
Hassan now gains a good number of money thanks to the charity events he hosted…

'Hassan is a human being while I am just a rich man with nothing to add up on this world. I am just a consumer on this earth'.

Finally, he noted down the last and most important conclusion;

(5) To be happy, being rich isn't enough, but you have to be part of the society.

Throughout the book, the writer kept describing his special cravings to delicious types of mangos and I found it silly. I didn't like the title of the book as it doesn't give it much, but then realized that this whole thing started with mangos. If the writer wasn't so interested in tasting Mango, he wouldn't be able to connect with his situation and appreciate what he has.

You realize through Hassan's behaviour that being rich isn't everything. In order to get everything else, you have to be a human first, by acting like it.

6/10, considering how short it was.


Unknown said...

First time I heard of the name of the book but the 5 points written down are so true.

I know some rich people who don't like their life because all they do is get money for their family yet they don't spend much time together. He feels isolated from society, somewhat.

I loved the last point the most, I wish we can spread the message somehow!

DiabMan said...

hmmm i personally don't read much of the Arabic books unless informative or biographic... self-exampled books in Arabic are not my cup of tea.. bt the mangoes sure look yuummm :D