Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Chasing shadows

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.


  1. Hello Suman,
    Burnt Shadows sounds like a very interesting book and covers so much tragedy since the bombing of Nagasaki.
    I am pondering your last two sentences and many faces come to mind, however, I must remember to refrain from casting the first stone.
    Continued joy as your week progresses
    Helen xx

    1. Dear Helen,

      Yes, it's an engaging story although disturbing most of the times. But then, a book must have the capacity to move you, mustn't it?
      Hope you had a good week. Happy weekend!


  2. The book was well received in the UK. I have yet to read it.
    There is so much shadow in the world surrounding us that sometimes I feel that I must escape into the light. Nature provides that for me. Man ever seeks to destroy, nature heals.

  3. This book is on my wishlist thanks to you... along with the cake! Great post, dear Suman. I love when you talk about books!


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