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Monday, 8 February 2016

The Dove's Lament

Book Title: The Dove's Lament
Author: Kirthi Jayakumar
Publisher: Readomania

The title is arresting, and the imagery on the cover is splendid. The complex artistry that comprises the dove's body, and the fact that it burns through in a landscape of conflict, as two men carry weapons, presumably set to destroy something is a hooker. The stark white and black, with little lines of red, yellow and orange on the dove's body, and the flames that burn tell you that this book will shake you up, and leave you in a place where action is all you want to take for the sake of the world. There are 12 chapters, and each story is prefaced with a map. Mentally, you make a journey into that part of the world, and surrender yourself to the geographies you are being taken to explore with a glimpse of the histories, and the histories in the making. Each story is then succeeded by a fact-based essay that then puts the story in context, and lets you realise that while what you read is fiction, much of what it is, is reality for many people in that region. This is exceptional - because many books in this genre leave a reader wanting information that he has to search for on the internet - while this book doesn't allow you to waste time by breaking off precious reading time. 

The stories are marvellous. Each one weaves a startling reality, and the nuances and layers of the conflicts are presented to you in so much clarity. It makes you wonder if the author visited all of these regions, and how she carried these stories back home with her without breaking down. I know I would have been destroyed mentally if I so much as ventured to collect conflict tales. The opening tale of the Rwandan Genocide leaves you speechless, as you feel a mother's pain at the way things go for the future of her little one. The second story, Fire in a Ring of Ice, is set against a backdrop of the Srebrenica Massacre. Essaying a father-son relationship in the midst of conflict, this story leaves you spell bound at the effortless reflection on reality, and how life simply must go on. For the Love of a MotherLand and Home reflect on the Israel-Palestine war, and tells such a touching truth that the two sides of the conflict are not very different. The oppressed turning oppressor, the loss of an ancestral home and the sheer truth that the circle of violence serves nobody is a very important reminder that the world's leaders could do with. Sacrifice talks about the harsh realities of Bachcha Baazi, and the painful practice that claims many young lads in Afghanistan, while the Smallest Coffins hits closer home, reminding one of the bloodbath that took place on December 16, 2014, in an Army School in Pakistan. These stories strike you hardest - for what was once breaking news was relegated to a sentence in the ticker of a news channel, and then, to nothing. The Smallest Coffins makes you wake up to see how harsh the world is - sacrificing children and relationships at the altar of pogrom-like manifestations of vendetta. Dessicated Land is a masterpiece of a story - as the author deftly lets a human illness that plagues a child run a parallel narrative with Kashmir - drawing an analogy that only a pure mind's innocence could have conceived. It shows how far we are from realising what we claim to protect and yet, fight over. Princess is the STAR STORY of the book. What a beautiful exchange between a mother and a daughter, as the little girl is wedded away in a barter of sorts, for child marriage forces the girl out of home, and the conflict that her mother faces in life after that - the end is thought provokingly painful, and leaves you with a lump in your throat and tears in your eyes. You never see a child with the same eyes as before - you love the humanity that has been brought into the world. A Night to Remember takes you to the dark underbellies of human trafficking. Explosion examines the sullied minds of a suicide bomber, and Imprisoned takes a look at Drug Trade in Colombia through a very beautiful story - and both take a look at the myriad perceptions that make killers out of innocent people. The book ends on a beautiful note - coming right back to the lead character in Esther's Story - as she recounts a powerful message of hope and resilience in the end. 

The title is splendid - a perfect justification for the book. What makes you think very deeply, more than anything else, is that the dove's lament is not just within the book. You hear the dove crying out in its peaceful song of silence, you see it flutter in the wind as its wings are clipped by conflict. You are touched by its beautiful feathers, and the white purity it embodies tells you that there is still room to reach that unsullied land of peace and purity. 
Readomania is clearly a new publisher, but to have chosen this book as their first solo author led publication is to make a business decision that is perfectly on track with the big bucks. The book is a phenomenal piece of work, and is a monument in tribute for peace. If I had my way, I would gladly recommend it as reading to the world’s leaders at the United Nations and every country’s foreign affairs and human rights ministries. 
The book certainly deserves the highest praise.