Daniel Murage: A friend and a book

Guest Columnist
Tuesday, May 16, 2017
This article is part of the series Commencement Magazine 2017

I have often been asked what my favorite book is or asked friends what their favorite books are. This is always a curious question, mostly because it offers an opportunity to learn about what the other person cares about without having to make them feel uncomfortable. In this same fashion, I will give you an account of my favorite book.

“Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice,” is the first sentence of “One Hundred Years of Solitude” by Gabriel García Márquez. The first time I read this sentence in June 2015 my hopes and goals were solidified — I was now certain that I wanted to be a writer. Later that summer, I read half of “One Hundred Years of Solitude.” But I haven’t gotten to finish the book yet — every time I open it, I reread half of the story twice, sometimes thrice, then end up going to the beginning and starting all over again.

My journey with Márquez did not begin in 2015. During the first week of my freshman year, my roommate, Eduardo, mentioned that his favorite book was “One Hundred Years of Solitude,” and he recommended that I read the book in Spanish. That semester, I took an introductory Spanish class. Three years later, I started reading “One Hundred Years of Solitude” and enjoyed it immensely.

But why am I not able to bring myself to finish reading “One Hundred Years of Solitude”? Every time I read the book, I have always enjoyed it to such an extent that I dread having to finish it, as I may not have a story to look forward to! This semester, I decided to get a first-edition copy of the book. It arrived in the mail three weeks ago. It is rugged, a bit torn and smells of old paper, but hey, it’s a first-edition book! I hope that this will be motivation enough to finish reading it.

And just like my relationship with my favorite book, I have been hesitant to come to terms with the fact that I’ll be leaving Brown. Brown has been my home. I have made great friends, established relationships with mentors and received numerous opportunities for personal and academic growth. For these, I know that I will not really be leaving Brown — I hope that the friendships I have made and the connections that I have fostered at Brown will continue to thrive past College Hill.

And as I come to terms with leaving Brown and reflect on how Brown introduced me to my best friend and my favorite book, this connection has always made me wonder: If I had decided to leave Brown after that first week of my freshman year, how would my life have turned out? Would I still be friends with Eduardo? Would I be inspired by Márquez? Would I want to be a writer? Would I be narrating or writing about this incident somewhere else?

I am not sure. But what I am sure about is this: During my first week at Brown, I met Eduardo, who shared stories of his life with me. Eduardo became my best friend, and his favorite book became the kind of book that I hope to someday write. During my first week at Brown, I gained friendship and purpose.

Over four years here, I have met wonderful people and been afforded numerous opportunities. I have learned, and I hope that I have inspired. And if I am lucky enough, just like Eduardo, I hope that I, along with the rest of the class of 2017, will have set someone else’s life on a different path.