Friday, January 18, 2008

From mystery to misery ...

I like first times. The first time you read a book by a particular author and fall for his style of writing. The first time you visit a library. The first time you refuse to listen to your body crying out for you to sleep cause the book in your hands is so unputdownable.
Theres nothing like reading an engrossing book flipping through page after page while being mesmerized by the world carefully laid out for you by the author. Add to it the pleasure involved in looking through shelves of books in a library while making a mental note to self to read the following n books. Time has taken its toll and from being a lover of Enid Blyton , 3 investigators, Hardy Boys, William etc I moved to Archer, Forsyth, Wilbur Smith, Robin Cook etc: as I grew older. I even became a fan of Michael Moore on the way. Over the past few months I’ve found myself reading books varying from the Ramayana to a book on the rise of Islam to a book on how Boston Public Schools destroyed the hearts and minds of black children in the late 60’s. But the book I’m reading now has done what no book has ever done before. It actually makes me close my eyes and cringe in pain.
Gujarat – The Making of a Tragedy is a book that every Indian should read. Currently at the end of my B school education, I’ve heard enough and more stories on how India is shining and poised to take on the world along with China and whatnot. But this book serves as a slap on the face for all of us who have forgotten the carnage of the attacks that took place in Gujarat against Muslims with the full support of Narendra Modi’s state government. The enormity of the scale of the atrocities and their nature is a brutal reminder that below the shining fa├žade of India is another darker side of our people that we ought to be ashamed of.
The following passages are taken from the book. “Nasir Khan Rahim Khan Pathan, principal of Sunflower School which catered to both Hindu and Muslim children, saw the attackers pour petrol into the mouth of six year old Imran. ‘A lit matchstick was then thrown into his mouth and he just blasted apart.’ ”
14-year old Javed Hussain says “… we heard a mob outside. They said they would destroy all Muslims. We tried to run but they had surrounded us. They set fire to houses and started throwing people into the flames. I was standing with my pregnant cousin Kausarbibi, who was to deliver in another two days. They dragged her away, ripped open her stomach with a knife and threw the foetus into the fire. Then they threw my family into the fire, one by one: my father, mother and my 17 year old sister Sophiya. My aunts family was also burnt alive”.
For the first time I actually don’t know if I have the strength to finish reading the book.

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