Monday, May 18, 2009

Two Civil wars. One Book.

I just finished the book 'Half of a Yellow Sun' by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Imagine a smiling stranger walking upto you with a bouquet of flowers and a basket of fruits. As you stop to take in the heady aroma of fruits and flowers, as you slowly press every fruit trying to choose the ripest one to savour its delicious sweetness, a fierce blow hits you in the head.  Before you can steady yourself, another strong punch rocks your foundation, your deep rooted faith in love and humanity... and that is Adichie's book.

The Nigerian Civil War wasn't something I was very familiar with before now. But the author makes you suffer the pain of the country through the experiences of her protagonists, as their idyllic life is shattered in one quiet afternoon. I liked this book more than her previous novel 'Purple Hibiscus'. There are no loose ends, the characters are well etched, not essentially rounded, but that makes them more believable. 

More than anything else, this book bothered me because the Srilankan - Tamil Civil war came to an end yesterday. The suffering of the Srilankan Tamils is closer home, and it irked me to no end when none of the big news channels here in America carried any information for weeks on end. How come there are no activits protesting the civilian casualities the way so many people feel for Darfur or Palestine? And when I say activists I am looking for non- Srilankan Tamils. Why is it not a genocide when another minority is attacked under the veil of rooting out evil? I don't support the LTTE. They are a vile and terrible organisation and it is a good riddance. But sometimes what we fail to understand is when the righteous ones remain silent, the weak will follow whoever has the loudest voice.

The book is awesome. I feel for what the Nigerians had to go through. But I feel more for what the Srilankan Tamils are going through now. In some way, they are indeed my brethren. All the Tamil Nadu politicians who cried hoarse from rooftops about Eelam are now awfully quiet, either revelling in their election victory or contemplating whom to blame for the loss. 

I sound so hypocritical blaming the politicians. I would press the 'Publish' button and then go back to the safe cocoon of my life. Holding my baby girl in my arms, smelling the coconut oil in her hair, nestling in the strong hold of my husband, drinking a glass of clean water, everything is a certainty in my life. And I feel ashamed I have all that and all I do as my part is shed a few tears while reading news and watching a mother howl for her lost loved ones.

Maybe it is people like me who let these atrocities and injustices continue. 
I do nothing. I just sit and feel. Pain.

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Sunday, May 10, 2009

This Mother's Day

I pledge to
  • wake up with you at 7.30 A.M to answer the kukol's call...smiling!
  • look at the food on the carpet and my clothes as food art and treasure them for your creativity.
  • make chasing squirrels as higher priorty to folding laundry.
  • sit with you to watch the moon rise and count the stars.
  • count my blessings by the number of times you smile and not the things I have. Though an iphone wouldn't hurt, you know!
  • read stories aloud to keep the monsters under the bed happy.
  • not kiss away your pain but give you the strength to accept the disappointments.
  • rejoice in your victories, even if it is as small as spelling your Amma's name right. We all know how difficult it can be!
  • give you the freedom to grow wings and fly. And I promise to wait by the window with a cup of chocolate milk!
  • be true to Kumari, even if most days she takes a backseat to being your mother.
  • be happy being your mother. There's nothing else more exciting!
But most importantly, I pledge to be not just the 'Mommy' you love to hug but also the Amma I long to be!

* kukol - Maye's name for sparrows, ants, squirrels :)

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Thursday, May 07, 2009

Cookie creases

Note: They won't be 55 word reviews, as contrary to popular belief that takes longer to write than full length essays :)

The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
 - Awesome read. The book is more a character study than drama, through the eyes of an English butler as he takes a few days off to drive around the country side. The priorities in a butler's life, the unwritten codes of conduct, their expectations from their Masters, all brought out beautifully by the author in his simple narrative style. The climax was poetic. Added sensory bonus: Imagining Anthony Hopkins driving the car and narrating his entire life to me. Priceless!

- Written under pen name by Algerian author Mohammed Moulessehoul, this is the first in a trilogy on Islamic fanaticism. The book is set in Afghanistan under Taleban and is about a prison guard and an educated couple whose lives are completely changed by a chance meeting. The precise writing punches you in the stomach with the destitution and hopelessness that it brings to light. Not that you hadn't read about what happened under Taleban but the stark picture he paints was so painful, I had trouble getting the burkha-clad women off my mind for days. 

 - I picked this YA novel just for the intriguing name of its author. Sigh! I wish I could say the same for the novel. First of all, I couldn't gel with a 40 year old narrator for a book aimed at teens. The book started very well, with interesting characters that made Boomtown a fun place to be. There were even pictures of streets and buildings to make it all authentic. However in his zeal to conjure up quirky townspeople, the author let the plot take a backseat...for a really long time. For most of the story, we just keep meeting new characters throwing hen grenades, having a slug parade and scaring the bejesus out of the narrator. After a point, I closed the book and didn't pick it up until after 2 weeks and even then it was because I really wanted to know if there was indeed a plot. The author seemed to have had a sequel in mind as at times he talks about how things worked out for someone, or how he was surprised in the future but we never really hear it because it is like he says, 'another story altogether' :) I never thought I'll ever say it but I think if the author had trimmed his creative outbursts and settled on a few quirky people with a solid plot, this story would have been really good.

- This was a really fun mystery story set in the Victorian period. The author fills the story with real and imaginary characters who lived during the period and were friends with Oscar Wilde. Made an interesting read as along with finding out the identity of the killer, one is taken on a ride through Victorian London, with insights into the life of people then. A good book. I quote Wilde time and again but never in my wildest dreams did I realise he was gay till this book. Something about the way Wilde talks about other young men in the book made me google him for the first time and boy! was i surprised. Now I want to read the Wilde's biography by the same author.

Ok I can't go any more. Will talk of the other books later.

Challenges covered: New Author, Orbis Terrarum

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Wednesday, May 06, 2009

I was absent

because Blogger wouldn't let me login due to some cookie issues. It was too much effort to clear cache, delete cookies blah blah. So instead I just munched cookies and read :)

So there, now you know.