Monday, February 20, 2017

The final Reckoning - Sam Bourne

When I opened the book, then only I realized it was the same book that I had returned to the library shelf after reading the synopsis alone. Since I had gone all the way out to the library and having taken a book I had rejected to read three times prior, I felt dejected at my own selection. But as someone said, the book chooses the reader. Probably that was the case here and I am more than glad that I happened to read it. Ivlo hype panra alavuku apdi onnum vedha vaakiyam laam ila. But it was a really good read.

Story wise, the events kick start with an old man getting killed right at the door step of UN, being shot at by its security. It leads to some legal wrangles as UN is officially outside of any country jurisdiction. In comes our hero, an ex-UN lawyer, who freelances as an attorney, who is sent to placate the kin of the killed to avoid any embarrassment to the world body. It takes a while to unfold and by the time the hero stumbles on to a personal dairy of the guy who was killed, it drags to around a 100 pages, post which the pace picks up and rushes headlong to a twist over twist of a climax. The diary contains the horrifying tales of the person who got killed, his life story in the times of holocaust and how him and his family suffered.

I hate sob stories. There are hardly handful of reasons to rejoice in this world and serious mind numbing stuff, that too in written form would be the last thing I would want to read. But the sections that deal with the sufferings of that old man and how he managed to survive the ordeal are told in an matter of fact tone and is surprisingly a fast read. It never dwells too deep in melodrama nor does it sound trivial or condescending. The impact of the events are left to the viewers discretion and that’s what makes it mind numbingly chill. You never knew what hit you till you are neck deep into the story. It feels like the day of your vaccination when you are distracted from the injection. All his actions and plans to kill Nazis are again straight to the face and as like all commercial masala movies, we end up rooting for his kills. As the story steps out from the diary to real world, the lawyer and the old man’s daughter travel through their findings about the old man’s alter ego of a holocaust vigilante and towards the climax finds themselves kidnapped by none other than president of Isreal, the very country that is the birth right of Jews and is formed to protect them. The best part of the story was the jumping leads, towards “who is the villain”. From the old man who gets killed, the focus shifts at first to the person who recruited the lawyer and who happens to be his friend. Pretty soon it becomes evident that he can’t be the one. Then it shifts to the Isreali president who has his own motive. Then comes the biggest twist on the lady and finally it all ends up in the most cinematic of scenes with the villain being right there in the very building where the story began.

Things that intrigued me in the book were the holocaust stories. Probably the most retold stories of horror ever in the past 8 decades and a source for several hundreds of books and movies and more to come as well. One thing that people have done well is to make it as commercialized as possible in any version available. You’ve blockbuster movies, Oscar winners, Pulitzer novels and articles, hard hitting any form you would already have a winner on this topic. For a man made horror that puts the credibility of being human into shame, its one topic that has been raised time and again in various forms and is ensured that its always in circulation, lest people forget. For all their evil, the Germans are never faulted not even once as “Christians” who sent millions of “Jews” to death, for its always the Nazis. In the book, it lists Lithuania, France, Poland and some other countries as well, where the persecution had begun much earlier than WW2. Probably Jews were the most hated of all people at that point of time and makes one wonder what could be the reason for such universal hatred!! I’ve seen some extreme right wingers who claim superiority over everything on the planet. You name something..anything..they would only claim theirs to be worser or bigger or superior based on the context. But one thing that I felt, which we and our historians could’ve done better is to take a leaf out of the European history book and start churning out pulp fiction novel forms of our own history. We’ve more than enough massacres and carnages and events that almost wiped off entire country’s count of people from our population. Its high time our children and future generation are made aware of the real events of our history and how vital its that they remember the sacrifices. Be it the British for their Jalian wala Bagh to countless crimes in India or the Mughals or the Afghans, there are countless stories that need to be told and retold to the point that future generations never forget and people world over realize the trauma that our forefathers went through and how wronged we were as a country for so many centuries.

Gils verdict: WW2 got over inside a decade. But its wounds are still kept fresh by authors like Sam Bourne who have managed to keep the facts of the horror intact, embedded inside a pulp fiction of a story. It’s the capsule containing the bitterness of the event and is packaged to perfection. We need authors who can deliver similar stories from our own past and take it into our future.

1 comment:

Ramesh said...

Lost of books and movies on Indian historical events too Gilsu , especially on the horrors of partition. Remember the Ice Candy Man later filmed as 1947 Earth ?