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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Blogger Meera said...

I read Purple Hibiscus and it was the first book i had read about Africa and it was truly touching.
This one would be a good addition to my list.

Sometimes we feel that we cant make a difference in the global war but its the small things that matter. Dont feel sorry for what you arent doing, feel good about what you could do. Thats what matter ;-)

4:04 PM  
Blogger Jira said...

As always, poignant Ponci...
I feel exactly the same way. But is Prabhakaran's death the end to this war. I don't know, but I sure hope so...The past months of violence and genocide in Srilanka has been atrocious....

10:39 AM  
Blogger littlecow said...

"...remain silent, the weak will follow whoever has the loudest voice"

Someone stuck an article on my boss's boss's cubicle that he never removed. The article went to great detail including citing research in psychology to convince that the loudest person in a room is often the one that wins (in a room full of equal people). The most sensible one is not the one that wins.

And we see it happen again... and again... and again. Right? We feel. Pain. Rush to the mirror. Recoil in horror. Shout. Talk. Think. Plan to make a difference. And Fail. We Forget. Blog. Yet Again. Until the next time.. when we add yet another page to the thick notebook of forgotten vows. Quickly and conveniently, we rationalize our lack of action (often, brilliantly). And rush back to join the crowd. In the underground. Blind to reality.

A blind Professor, well rooted in reality, that taught me once, said "Those who forget history are condemned to repeat it". And that, I guess, is really what hurts.

3:36 AM  

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