Recently, I have finished reading the book, Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts; A revolutionary who lost his ideals in heroin, a philosopher who lost his integrity in crime, a poet who lost his soul in a maximum security prison.

He said, “It took me long time and most of the world to learn what I know about love and fate and the choices we make, but the heart of it came to me in an instant, while I was chained to a wall and being tortured. I realized sometimes through the screaming in my mind, that even in that shackled, bloody helpless, I was still free: free to hate the men who were torturing me, or to forgive them. It doesn’t sound like much, I know. But in the flinch and bite of the chain, when it’s all you’ve got, that freedom is a universe of possibility. And the choice you make, between hating and forgiving, can become the story of your life.

“When a story starts like that, you can’t help but being fascinated. My interest with this book came out as if there’s no tomorrow. I have tried to finish reading it in an instant.

 Here are the 4 quotes I love from his book Shantaram:

1) Depression only happens to people who doesn’t know how to be sad. (Seen on page 546)

But he declared, “That’s wrong. I am an expert in the tristesse. It is a perfect, definitive human performance. There are many animals that express their happiness, but only the human animal has the genius to express a magnificent sadness. And for me, it is something special; a daily meditation. Sadness is my one and only art.”

2) At first, when we truly love someone- our greatest fear is that, the love one one will stop loving us. (Seen on page 629)

 He said, “What we should fear and dread, of course, is that we won’t stop loving them, even after they’re dead and gone. For I still love you with the whole of my heart. I still love you. And sometimes my friend, the love that I have, and can’t give it to you, crushes the breath from my chest. Sometimes, even now, my heart is drowning in a sorrow that has no stars without you, and no laughter and no sleep.

3) Every human heartbeat is a universe of possibilities. (seen on page 932)

 It seemed to me that that I finally understood exactly what he’d meant. He’d been trying to tell me that every human will has the power to transform its fate.

Following are the lines in which shantaram ends:

4) I’d always thought that fate was something unchangeable; fixed for each and everyone of us at birth and as constant as the circuit of the stars. But I suddenly realized that life is stranger and more beautiful than that. The truth is, no matter what kind of game you find yourself in, no matter how good or bad the luck- you can always change your life completely with a single thought or a single act of love. (seen on page 932)

For this is what we do. Put one foot forward and then the other. Lift our eyes to the snarl and smile of the world once more. Think. Act. Feel. Add our little consequence to the tides and evil that flood and drain the world. Dragged our shadowed crosses into the hope of another night. Push our brave hearts into the promise of a new day. With love: the passionate search for a truth other than our own. With longing: the pure, ineffable yearning to be saved. For so long as fate keeps waiting. We live on. God help us. God forgive us. We live on.

Yes, he is a drug dealer on the run, having escaped Australian jail on a broad daylight and crossed border to India on fake passport. What is so interesting, you may ask me. Nothing. Except his attitute. The way he still love to live a life. I am not telling that we imitate him (for being a drug dealer, robber, having joined a mafia, working as a money launderer, forger, street soldier and a heroin addict) NO. I am not into these but it’s just so surprising how he still finds fancy in a girl. The way he still looks at things in life. The way he loves life. How he found a lot of love in India. A sad fate that still hopes. And the choices that he made. It’s true, attitude is all about a choice, as there are ways and ways of looking at things. I will keep the Shantaram in my heart forever. When people will ask,”What’s in there that is so interesting and unique?” I will answer them…EVERYTHING! Everything in the world.

SHANTARAM (meaning): a man trying to make peace.

Thank you Tony for the very special book (Shantaram) you have given me. I will treasure this forever. I have read dozen times already and have those lines memorized.

Bea C. Pilotin