A fable of desire and of freeing oneself from its chains.
First-time author Bullard relates the tale of a young boy, Amir, in an unnamed land. Amir’s father dreams of lifting the family out of poverty and buying a farm in the country but dies in an accident, sinking the family into penury. One day at the local market, Amir and his younger brother, Mamluk, steal a chicken to feed the family. The authorities apprehend the brothers, and a judge sentences them to the Mill, a notorious labor camp from which no one returns. Prison guards separate the brothers. Subsisting on gruel, Amir spends his days in a bare cell physically powering a contraption running unseen machinery that grinds grain—a benefit to society and the route to his freedom, his captors tell him. Soon, the guards bring a pillow to Amir, calling it a gift. They follow with more: a blanket, a mat and a bowl of his mother’s lamb stew. Amir accepts these so-called gifts but eventually realizes that they come with price tags—literally, on obscure labels that add weeks and months to his sentence. The spirit of his dead father counsels him that “the desire for more is insatiable” and that to find true freedom, release and happiness, “You must grow your Self-Control…and kill Indulgences and Fantasies.” Eventually, young Amir musters the willpower to renounce the gifts, realizing that “the more stuff I get, the less of me there is” and that seeming luxuries are really “millstones” keeping him in the Mill. Written in a deceptively simple fashion, this fable will intrigue anyone spinning on an economic hamster wheel of work, debt, and questions about the spiritual and environmental dissolution of a modern world hellbent on a dead-end street of rampant consumerism. On the most basic level, it makes entertaining reading, but it works on a higher plane, and for those possessed by their possessions, it gives a path to the possibility of freedom.
A deftly told tale about breaking free from the yoke of voracious and unsustainable, media-driven consumerism.