Saturday, July 28, 2007

Things Fall Apart-Interpretation

Finished Chinua Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart” today. I would like to interpret the book in my own way.
The book, first of all, is a wonderful illustration of tribal customs in the heart of Africa, the Niger delta to be precise. The tribes, where tradition is steeped in customs and rituals where rules have been followed for generations, where respect for ancestors is as profound as death for heretics. If I were an anthropologist I would be delighted to have such a treasure house of information loaded in an eighty three page novel.
Things fall apart is the story of a man and his family especially his three wives, his children and the tragedy they encounter in the final pages. It is the story of a man who values tradition to the hilt and wants to make a mark in his clan while holding his tradition aloft. The protagonist had a deep down abomination for his father who had no respect in his village and which propels him to earn that very respect the traditional way. He is banished form the village because of an inadvertent fault but accepts his fate. But things turn topsy turvy from thereon. When he returns he fins that things have changed. He wanted to get back his social standing in the clan but the clan is itself on the verge of being destroyed.
On the other side the weak and those who can’t gather respect in the traditional manner sides with the Christian missionaries to gain respect. Here, a war situation arises but the point is that it is better to be a weak man in a strong clan (read missionaries than being a strong man in a weak clan. Ultimately Darwin is right.” Survival of the fittest” as the saying goes.
The point is the protagonist fails to adapt to the changing times and kept clinging to old values. Was it good? Was it bad? Without being subjective I would like to draw a critical conclusion.
Things change and when u fail to adapt to changing theme you end up getting massacred. Nostalgia is all right but clinging to old thoughts and dying with it is a natural consequence. Since the voice of Christians were more profound and powerful than the clans which had created their own restrictions, might won and rights got redistributed. The Christians bought education and winds of change to an otherwise rigid society.
The book is a beautiful illustration of how Christianity spread in Africa thus heralding the death of old value customs.
But, why the sane never happened in India which too follows the oldest religion in the world. Why Christians failed to make headway in India in spite of British dominating India for 200 years. It is because Hinduism is a very flexible religion. And it has survived centuries of invasion. It is a pacifist religion and even has a place for heretics like me.

Monday, July 23, 2007


make it more realistic
incorporate daily cultural habits

dilute the president part and the views

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Diary of an unknown soldier

This is my story. I am posted in a place called Kandahar in Afghanistan. I work as a private in the US Army. I am 19 years old. I have graduated from high school and look forward to complete higher studies. I have been living here for the past year and a half. Most of my friends call me an intellectual, a thinker, who is unable to pen his thoughts. So here I am, making a last ditch effort to salvage my reputation.
My name is Sam. My mom raised me because my father had died when I was 11 years old. But she is unable to fund my education any further. I think I am a fighter. Because I had told my mom that I could take good care of myself. My job in Kandahar,as my leader says, is to keep fighting evil .The Taliban is gaining a lot of sympathy here and my president considers that evil. Everyday I go out early, looking for suspicious looking men or group and liquidate them if necessary. I had thought that my family was the poorest in the world. But people here are poorer. They don’t have food,money,facilites.Epidemics are very frequent.But the locals even consider us as a disease.I don’t know why I am here.Here,the people are involved in something the whole world considers illegal. They cultivate poppies which are used to manufacture opium. I have never tried drugs but still, being so close to the river I feel an instinctive urge to take a bath. Also, they are cheaper. I am clean though. I was raised a Catholic and my religion dictates my morality. I hear that my leader is a devout Catholic. So why did he send us in the far flung barren region to kill people? Jesus had said “Hate the sin, not the sinner”. I feel so confused. Is it patriotism? Are we fighting a battle to soothe someone’s ego? I am a realist. Even though I don’t like killing people I have to fund my higher education. I hear that my people want us to return home. They even elected Nancy Pelosi to the Congress to hear our case.Nancy.What a sweet name? She must be a good woman. I once had a girlfriend who had a nice name too. Angela. These days the fighting have subsided a bit. Our chief keeps motivating us. That we are doing a good job. I know what he means. The Taliban have temporarily run out of supplies and once they procure that they will jump on us once again like hungry wolves. They keep feeding themselves with religious thoughts. Our leaders do that too. Oh I forgot why we are here. I think the name Osama still rings in people’s ears. But where is he?
I don’t know when I will be back but does it matter? I will have to serve the military for more than a year so that I can save enough to fulfill my dreams. Even if I die in this battle I know that I won’t be a loser because if I go back now, I won’t be able to get into college which is as good as death. A bigger death.
We do have friends here, among locals-Wazir,Usman,Gul etc. They take good care of us in terms of information. But they have to be fed with money. You know there are two types of people in this world.Some are fed with copius amount of religious hatred and some are fed with love, love for money.The first kind generally have leaders like Osama and the second one have poverty.Besides the locals we have German friends from NATO. I have met one recently.His name is Gunter.He teaches me his native tongue which I find a little rough.But I am more fond of German curse words because I need to use them often. My mates often use curse words but I am unable to retort. Since I have to keep up with them I hurl some German bullets down their throat. They don’t mind. We enjoy a lot here because we are in the same situation. In this aspect camp life is funny. The terrain sometimes looks incredibly beautiful, better than the deserts of Arizona. But sometimes they look obnoxious. My British friend says that it depends on perception. I agree. I think man has three eyes- only two are visible. We had a beautiful bonfire tonight with the British people where we sang Bob Dylan,Elvis,Beatles even Madonna.But no patriotic songs. The British inspite of fighting in a gloomy terrain behave like gentlemen. Every one of them. One of them gave me a book written by PG Woodhouse on Christmas. I will read it later. On my part I narrated the story of Arms and the Man by GB Shaw. He became very emotional after hearing that. I don’t know why. He might have taken me seriously when I had concluded that there is nothing called eternal idealism in this world. He might have confused that with patriotism. We celebrate our patriotism on July 4th. They have nothing. I am a realist. I am a Catholic but I have come here to fight. I gave you the reason earlier. There are a lot of people over here-some are lonely, some have kids, some are engaged, some are extremely talented and some extremely are boring. And as the leaders put it all of us have come here with a common destiny. To fight. Everyone has his own story to tell. And I, on my part have come clean on it.
God bless the superpower!