Sunday, March 4, 2012

Of books and thoughts...

I am not one of those who follows the political scene very closely.  Domestic or international.  Not that I am totally ignorant either.  I usually skim through political commentaries and get by with the headlines and news reports and occasionally the odd programme on the television.

But it is slowly changing.  I realise we have a lot to be thankful for.  Despite the scams, the corruption, and our politicians.

The book that first brought this change in my thinking and perception was The Kite Runner  by Khaled Hosseni .  I remember my brother was excited when he heard the news on the radio about the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. This was so long ago in 1979.  He did try to explain what it meant to the rest of the world, but it was lost on me.This book, now, brought back those moments.  The story itself is very moving, and though the characters hold center-stage, the disruption of what was once a peaceful life in Kabul stands out.  His description of the country does not match the scenes we now see on TV.  I can only think of the dusty roads, the bombed buildings, the tanks, the guns, soldiers, masked men .. like a ghost town.  Could Afghanistan have really been the peaceful, beautiful place that Hosseni describes in the early chapters of his book?

Coincidentally the next book I picked up was Benazir Bhutto's autobiography - Daughter of the East. I had no real intention of reading the book. It was more than 400 pages and the print was tiny.  And the Bhutto family did not hold interest. However, the first few pages were enough to ensure that I read the book from cover to cover.  While the account would definitely be biased.. I mean which autobiography wouldn't? I found myself totally immersed in the book.  It is evident that she had enjoyed a good life till her father was imprisoned.  He was her hero.  She dwells upon the achievements in his reign. And how all that changes after the military coup.  The family could have fled and lived a comfortable life in exile. But I guess once you have a taste of power it can be difficult to live without it. That she endured innumerable detentions and remained sane is admirable.  Here again there is mention of Afghanistan and the role of the US in arming the Afghan guerillas to fight the Soviets, and then abandoning the region altogether when they retreated.  And the subsequent rise of terrorism in the area.   However one sided the writing may be, there is no doubt that Ms Bhutto was indeed a great storyteller just as much as her famed oratorical skills.  We never will know whether another term of her as the Prime Minister would have brought development and peace once again to a strife-torn country.  Or would it have been a continuation of the military regime in a new garb?

These two books have made me aware of our neighbouring countries. Of  petty politics of the super powers.  Of senseless wars that are being fought.  Of the children in the Palestine, Syria, Iraq..  How long will they live with the sound of gun shots and bombs ringing in their ears?


  1. Compelling and nicely written reviews making me want to read the books.It is doubtful whether Ms Bhutto would have significantly brought back the power to the elected representatives to whom it should belong.

  2. @KP - This is not really a book review. But the effect the books had on my perception of what is happening around us.

  3. What is a book review?It is nothing but your perception and the effect the book had on you.I liked the way you dealt with the books.Your writing is crisp and in good style.Thanks

  4. Oh yes. We do have a lot to be thankful about!

    That is exactly what I thought after I read The Kite Runner. How could people have survived in the Afghanistan that is described in the book?

    I have not read Benazir Bhutto's autobiography yet. Hope to do so soon.

    1. Manju - it seems that your comment was published as an anonymous reader. Will check why you are not able to post comments - with my limited blogger knowledge.

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. I have got the kite runner but not read it so far, maybe now reading from you I will give it a try ..

    I dont like reading autobiogrphies for they are not always true and sometimes dont tell the truth just to make sure the main person in the book is always good ..

    good review :)

  7. If you have time,try to see the movie " Turtles can fly". It is a story of children living in Kurdistan during the war time. You will know what the war is doing to children.

  8. I too enjoyed reading the KIte Runner. I haven't read Ms. Bhutto's book. Your review has made me eager to read it. Thanks for your comment.


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