Monday, August 15, 2011

The Reader by Bernhard Schlink- A book review



Known for its impact of eroticism and moral claims upon the reader, The Reader is a contemporary fiction. It tells a mesmerizing story of love, secrets, betrayal, guilt, horror and compassion against the backdrop of post war Germany. It’s an autobiographical novel about a 15-year old, Michael Berg who falls in love with Hanna Schmidt, a woman twice his age.

What makes this book interesting is, after a brief love-affair; Hanna disappears suddenly until years later they meet in a court where the boy is visiting a trial about war crimes as a law student.

The Reader takes us literally to the German city after the Holocaust through the eyes of Michael and Hanna. One can see the growing love connection of the two distinct people and feel the betrayals and guilt as secrets are revealed in a surprising manner.

What I loved about the book is that it opens your eyes to the raw humanity portrayed through the characters in postwar Germany and how it is beautifully captured in writing is amazing! The title of the book itself is a real cache which encircles the storyline and once you start reading you cannot stop pondering as to whose shoes you must put yourself into. Never-ending page flipping is guaranteed until you finish the book. This book has been made in to a major motion picture where Kate Winslet won the Oscar for best actress in 2009.

This appeared in the 3rd edition of Yeewong magazine.

Friday, August 12, 2011

What have they done to me now?

What have they done to me now? 

Once a valley lashed with green paddy fields is now torn down. 

They have emptied away the mirth in me, have abused me, mutilated my pride and happiness with this thing called urbanization. Urbanization, how loathsome is the process!

I used to greet the people entering the city with the lush green paddy fields. People used to plunge inside me with their peasant foot at this time of the year and reap the fruits of success later on in autumn with lots of merry making. 

In the fall, when I was dry, children returning from school used to jump on me and sometimes they used to roll over me, that feeling of being able to give them a place of playground made me joyous. Cows, bulls, goats used to graze on me, on the fruits I used to bear. I could cater to the humans needs, be it to the school going kids or to the adults or to the cattle. A purpose-driven life I used to have then. How I miss that now, sigh!

Why does urbanization have to be unkind? Why?

I am deprived of the green paddy fields now. Instead huge concrete buildings have overtaken and been constructed on me. When the foundation was laid upon me for their buildings, it sucked the blood out of me. 

Boy, monstrous bull dozers started razing upon me. It was too painful. My neighbor screamed in pain when the monster came razing upon us, who would hear us? No one, our screams vanished among the loud rumble and screech of the monster and left us helpless. A huge truck runs over and splashes a poodle of dirt making me messier than ever.  Day and night, people in yellow helmets terrorize us and start hitting from the top, there is chaos everywhere, I can’t take rest nor go to sleep. My eyes have been hollow from the less sleep I have had since this thing called urbanization plundered us.

Every morning, I hate to be an audience to the angry office-goers. They come stamping on me, marring my beauty sleep, waking me up to loud curses. Every one of them curses me. Curse me for being muddy in the summer and dusty in the winter. If it rains then the matter becomes worse. I hate to see their frowning faces. At least the old ones are patient and tread on me carefully minding their feet, in case they slip over me. I can’t help but be a sincere spectator to the people crossing by. I pray for the rain not to pour down in the morning especially so that the people go to their workplace happy. 

When the sun shines, I become less muddy and I see smiles on peoples’ face and they cross by happily. When it rains, I just cannot imagine. Women cannot go about me in their pretty sleek heels, their heels dig deep inside me. Oh how it hurts! Their feet and dress becomes sore with the mud and people go on cursing and cursing. Looks like I have not done enough karma in my previous life to be cursed every minute this life. 

Who is responsible for things to be normal again? People themselves I believe. Had I been left as I was I would be a lot happier, people would have been less troubled. And I would not have been cursed as I am. And now I curse you, O urbanization!

P.S~~ Inspiration from the pathetic Olakha road

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Of growing up and wanting to become what not

I grew up playing with my little brother who is just 2 and half years younger than me. Mother used to knit us sweaters in the winter, of the same color except the size: mine used to be just a little larger than his. 

Today both of us started working the same time, though his perks being a little heavier than mine for the stupid reason of him being a technical grad and me just some general grad though I spent a year doing post graduate diploma. I do not understand the government’s policy for the special preference rendered to the technical graduates :(  I am just so jealous and you know what FRUSTRATED!!!!!!

With frocks and shirts clad around my lean body (I was lean then: P) I used to play the doctor and him the patient. For reasons unknown I always wanted to become a dentist when I grow up. That was my childhood dream. With a scarp tied around my neck, used as a pseudo stethoscope I used to check brother’s teeth and say it is perfectly al rite every time :).

This inspiration must have come when mother used to take me to the dentist for the regular check up. There was this young lady dentist who used to do my check up for how bad my teeth were since then. Seeing her moving in the white apron, amusement was what I used to be filled with and I longed to become like her. Perhaps I should believe that she was my icon of the time.

Growing up my ambition took its twist. I wanted to become a lawyer, for whatever reasons unknown again. I did not have the slightest idea as to what it takes to become a lawyer. When the young trainee teachers used to come to our school for apprenticeship, their first class would be the session of introducing yourself, basically they would like to know who you are, where you are from and what you want to become when you grow up. And not to forget, what your hobbies are, I am sure you must be having the same story as mine:).

When asked what I want to become I would promptly say ‘a lawyer!’ Later on in life right after finishing college I did my share of asking the same rapid questions to the students when I became a teacher for a year:). It was pretty much fun though and the answers were amusing especially when some of them said that they want to become a DJ and for some of them they had no ambitions in life at all. Call it ironic but I found it sad:(

Hmmnnn…when I was in junior high, Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys series inspired me a lot to become a detective haha. And Mr. Goon in the Enid Blyton’s series was my favorite villain. The Famous Five was another favorite of mine. All these books were a boost to my dream of becoming a detective when I grow up. 

Maturity must have started to implant on me. On a serious note, I wanted to become a social worker. Oh I used to crack my head a lot as to what requires being a social worker. And at the end all the thoughts used to vanish in rubble of ashes. 

Then in the middle I was stuck, aimless as you would say it. I had no ambition in life, I did not know what I wanted to become when I grow up. Maybe then I was waiting for my call in life. I just moved on with the flow.

I had a keen interest in literature and wanted to study literature but the forces of nature, the evolution of earth and the study of earth in wholesome made me take up geography and I graduated with a meager grade in geography. 

Life after college was not easy; this huge task of sitting for the RCSC exam had me in a fix. I wanted to take up Journalism, another ambition now all of a sudden. But I was caught in between the civil service exam and journalism as a career.  Very much rampant, one can become a joournalist in Bhutan without having  to undego any journalism courses, pretty easy and illogical too. And after a few years up the career you become a editor too, wow!  Taking the earlier as my choice I made up to join the civil service and after a year-long course at RIM, I am here in the civil service, so disgruntled and dissatisfied in life. I will tell you why in my next post.


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