Paulo Coelho

Stories & Reflections

20 SEC READING: the screwdriver

Author: Paulo Coelho

Shortly before he died, my father-in-law summoned his family.

‘I know that death is only a passageway into the next world. When I have gone through it, I will send you a sign that it really is worthwhile helping others in this life.’ He wanted to be cremated and for his ashes to be scattered over Arpoador Beach while a tape recorder played his favourite music.

He died two days later. A friend arranged the cremation in Sí£o Paulo and – once back in Rio – we went straight to the beach armed with a tape recorder, tapes and the package containing the cremation urn. When we reached the sea, we got a surprise. The lid of the urn was firmly screwed down. We couldn’t open it.

The only person around was a beggar, and he came over to us and asked: ‘What’s the problem?’

My brother-in-law said:

‘We need a screwdriver so that we can get at my father’s ashes inside this urn.’

‘Well, he must have been a very good man, because I’ve just found this,’ said the beggar.

And he held out a screwdriver.

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