How often do we, well, pick up a newspaper, take a brief glance at the morning news or read a news flash that your smart device zaps you with and g-r-o-a-n….”they’re at it again?” Be it a flood, a suicide bomb, famine, an uprising or simply a demonstration by a bunch of disgruntled citizens, we just find it so difficult to empathize with the unknown and unfamiliar.
“Swallows of Kabul” was an eye opener. I, for one, would henceforth find it difficult to look at yet another news clip from a relatively less fortunate part of the world and be indifferent. Yasmina Khadra, or should I say Mohammed Moulessehoul, describes life in trouble-torn Afghanistan at various stratae. Given the harsh subject, the sensitivity and sophistication of style, surprised us. Our preconceived bias questioned how an ex Army Officer could write like this! Yeah, we all admitted to “wikipediaing”, hey, it’s the done thing!!!
The key words in our chat over tea and munchies, was compliance and submissiveness. Why were the unfortunate characters so accepting of their circumstances? Could they have reversed their fate?? Why were they so compliant??? What would we have done in those circumstances?
If his aim was to walk his reader through bylanes, homes and establishments of present day Afghanistan, he certainly succeeded. “Swallows of Kabul” left no one indifferent; we felt incredulity, horror, surprise, suspense, pain, helplessness but indifference??? No, definitely not!
Well, life goes on, and we moving to the Western Hemisphere, North America, Canada in particular. Our next story teller is Alice Munro with her collection of short stories Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage.
We meet on Friday, 28 March 2014 for our tryst with Alice Munro!
Take care and see you then!
Michelle Ann Prabhu,
APAVAC Reading Club Conductor