Most humans often compare, complain and whine about the various problems and shortcomings that they face in life. None can dare measure those issues as being ludicrous or unnecessary, for no one but the person who undergoes problems would know the gravity of the situations and would be forced to come out with different potential solutions. However, what the whiners and touch me nots cannot measure is the enormity of the other people’s problems, for they would never have given ear to the languish escaping the mouths of stricken individuals. Wearing dark glasses, all that they would see is a dark world that offers them nothing but dim light to walk, failing to notice the crippled, wounded and dying people surrounding them. When the glasses are removed by chance, reality hits them in the stomach like a speeding locomotive – and it really hurts.
The Dove’s Lament does exactly that, making reality hit hard in a place where pain is felt all the more – at the heart!
We think we’ve seen it all, heard it all and well… experienced it all. Kirthi Jayakumar, through The Dove’s Lament, tears apart that false curtain of deceptively woven lies into shreds, leaving the reader gasping for breath. It is not every day that one comes across a book such as this. A book that makes the heart to stop beating for awhile, trying to come to terms with reality.
Genocide, the first story of the book gives the readers a glimpse of what is to follow. What had so far been to many readers only a figment of imagination of some obscure author while penning a novel, is visualized and brought alive, when readers realize through the essays at the end of each story, that Kirthi has recreated through her stories, the horrors experienced by people, people like us!
I saw Joseph Gahiji amongst them, knife in tow. Could it be really him, the man I knew? Could it be the very benevolent gentleman who brought his granddaughter to the same school as Habimana every day until the war broke out?
Sentences like the above rent hearts into two, as the story takes the reader into the mass killing that took place in Rwanda. We are not able to imagine even for a moment that it is just a story – Kirthi sees to that. Truth is felt in every sentence that one reads.
Fire in a Ring of Ice is a story set in the backdrop of The Srebrenica Massacre. The woes of a family struggling in war are brought out in a way that brings tears to the eyes. The son being compared to a creeper brings the imagery alive before one’s eyes. The separation of the men from the women in the house moistens one’s eyes, while the thoughts of the dying father bring hope to one’s hearts about the creeper – son being alive somewhere, to our solace.
For the Love of a Motherland is set in the Middle East amidst one of the longest conflicts going on in the world, the Israel – Palestine dispute. The innocence of the children in the story and the frank manner in which they speak their hearts out make one pray that the ending is not a blood smeared one. Kirthi has brought out emotions that play with one’s minds. The story brings out the pathetic condition of people who have lost their dear ones, their houses, their countries and their identities.
He noticed the boy get up from his spot at the table. ‘I will come with you, Papa.’
Papa! The soldier turned immobile momentarily at this long awaited first call of the boy.
‘Papa? Can I?’ The soldier’s resolve firmed. He would reclaim his future, and give it to his son.
The uncertainty in the minds of children and adults alike is wrought out in a manner that evokes pity on the characters, all the while reminding the reader yet again that this is not just a story, but reality.
Home is set in almost the same background as that of the previous story. The occupation of the West Bank by the Israeli forces and the displacement of thousands of Palestinians are brought alive to the readers through the eyes of Amal, as millions of thoughts zoom in and out of her mind. The story ends with a ray of hope as Amal inhales the heady feeling of being at home, in her motherland.
Sacrifice brings to the fore a trait that is not known to many around the globe. Two brothers born up in the same family are brought up for different purposes. The ugly practice of Bacha Baazi is dealt with in this story, as a story of brotherly love, misunderstanding and sacrifice unfolds, leaving readers with lumps in their throats. The activities of the youngest brother remind one of the affection shared amongst siblings around the world.
The Smallest Coffins is perhaps the story with which all readers would be able to connect easily, not only because of the enormity of the brutality but also because it is the most recent one that all can remember. The class room scene is hilarious and typical of a normal school children mentality story, till disaster strikes. The involvement of the family feud and the connection at the end bring a sorrowful wakening to the story, reminding the readers that the smallest coffins are indeed the heaviest. That such love could possibly be inside so small a form is mind numbing.
Desiccated Land is set in the geographical crown of the Indian sub-continent, Kashmir. The partition of India and Pakistan, and the gory scenes that made blood run in both countries, especially in Kashmir is brought alive in this story. Kirthi Jayakumar has the inane ability to delve deep into the minds of people and bring out their emotions. The love, misunderstanding, misdeed and the terrible aftermath is heart rendering to read.
Princess is another story from the land of India. An evil that is rampant in India is prostitution. What people usually do is to overlook or ignore the consequence of prostitution in families that are forced to sell the product of their own flesh and blood. The pain of the mother in seeing her daughter suffer the same fate that she did and yet being unable to make any other move than the one she did is the worst fate that could befall any mother. It happens in this story. Kirthi’s efficiency in story telling has moved up a couple of notches in this story alone. Such is the power of her pen, in revealing the pain of individuals, families and communities to the world.
A Night to Remember is set in the dark world of prostitution and human trafficking. The pathetic situation in which a girl child is sold to a brothel is told in a detailed manner. Poverty plays a role in many families into sending members for this heinous act.
From the ante-room, she was sold into the heart of permanent hell.
Ironically, it was the heart of momentary heaven for the men who knocked on its gates.
Lines like the above showcase the ability of the author to play with words while breaking the ear of the reader with the seriousness of the situation. The breakthrough to the protagonist of this story is the bold act taken at the end of the story, bringing hope.
Explosion makes the readers explode with emotion and tears. Suicide bombers who destroy many parts of the world and communities with their ruthless acts form the crux of this story. The love between sisters and the helplessness at the end make this a dolorous read. Families torn apart because of the war and the longing for peace among the characters remind readers of the grim reality of life in many parts of the world.
Imprisoned deals with the drug dealers and their trade in countries like Colombia. The story deals in its journey life in prison for young inmates and seasoned criminals, along with people serving sentences for wrongs done by others. The thread of connection in this story is awesomely interwoven thanks to Kirthi’s ability. The fact that drug dealing is an evil that must be rooted out is brought out clearly in the story. The fair child of December makes hearts heavy…
Esther’s Story is the jewel of The Dove’s Lament and is a fitting climax to this book that contains stories of tribulation and sorrow, for this story ends with the silver lining to cast away all misgivings that one would have gotten about this cruel world filled with people committing vile deeds. Habimana’s mother is filled with the encouragement that flows into her through the acquaintance of Ujasiri.
She nodded. Later that evening when I helped her with the sombe, she told me her name was Ujasiri. It meant courage.
Kirthi Jayakumar has given to this world a book as rare as Gollum’s ring. The Dove’s Lament is one of the rarest books to have been published in the recent times in terms of the problems dealt with, the manner in which the issues have been brought out, the deeply etched memories of the stories that just refuse to fade away into oblivion as other stories do, the relevance of the stories in the current world, the pathos surrounding all the stories, the heavily researched essays that substantiate each story, the usage of apt words in places befitting them, the ache that is produced in the hearts of readers, the determination that the book forces one to take, and above all, the burden in the heart of Kirthi Jayakumar to bring to light the atrocities happening in different countries of the world. The Dove’s Lament by Readomania is a precious possession of Indian Literature that appeals to International audience. Kudos to Readomania for publishing such an irreplaceable wonder!