It's May, that paradox of a month when it's green and just the right amount of pretty on the other side of the globe and all we are left with is a big, blazing, burning sun that never shies away from showing off its summer might. Unfair!
As I sit at the kitchen table and watch the morning sun flood the apartment in rays of gold, many things scamper and skid through my mind. Off late, I have been chasing shadows a lot, of all shapes and kinds. Some go years back in time, when the sun was mellow and seasons were a part of life, and some very recent whose bodies are too patchy to give a name to them.
In such times, I came across Kamila Shamsie's Burnt Shadows — the heroic story of a woman, spanning decades and their history, who wears the scars of her past on her skin, literally, and carries their ominous shadows across the length and breadth of the world. Hiroko Tanaka, a brave, resilient Japanese woman, miraculously survives the horror of the 1945 Nagasaki bombings and trails her journey across the world, mapping her life through the troubled territories of Delhi, Istanbul, Karachi, and New York, in turn witnessing more death and disaster brought on by man upon man. Battling her own ghosts, she sees it all — the waning years of the British Raj in India, the bloody partition of India and Pakistan, the rise of terrorism in Pakistan, and finally the harrowing episode of 9/11 in New York. She sees it all, living and losing through each of these catastrophes. But what pestered me through the pages is this nagging question — whether the shadows just announced themselves wherever Hiroko arrived, or it was she who kept chasing shadows relentlessly all her life?
Some people have a reputation of casting shadows wherever they go, after all. Just like some carry a legacy of brewing storms in picture-perfect calmness.