Thursday, September 13, 2012

Pamuk at the Back Post

Dearest Rosa,

I’m lucky to be assigned at the backdoor today. At least the barracks is near and it is easy for me to cry for assistance when need arises. In case you haven’t known yet, this is the best post I love inside the jail. It gives me  ample of time to think and plan for myself and my family. Being a father and a husband is tough, that is why you need to be very careful in everything you do and make sure you follow the golden rule: Be good, even in what you’re cooking.

Of course, the back door is the most tranquil post inside the jail. It offers a panorama of acres of rice field that is not just soothing for the eyes but also for the brain. Above the verdant plain is the blue sky which is ornamented by giant cotton clouds that sometimes block the sun to create a patch of shadow bellow. Finches seductively play with each other atop the acasia trees. Some of them would swing back in forth from branches to the little chink in the corner of the ceiling with little twigs between their beaks – probably trying to make a love nest, to warm them when rain comes. Everything here is simple, so peaceful. If only I have my camera with me, I can always come out with a great moment of it. 

Since our barracks is a just a walk near my post, I have the opportunity to browse my little book collection I brought with me since I was assigned here last February. On my shelf are Best American Essays 2006 and 1994, Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Koztova, Gunter Grass’ Peeling Onions, British football history creatively told by David Winner in his Those Feet, Nick Hornby’s Fever Pitch, Joseph Epstein’s Friendship, The Yellow Lighted Bookshop by Lewis Buzbee, Soldier’s Heart by Elizabeth Samet, Love and Blood by Jamie Trekker to which I have devoured right away during the first day of my assignment last month, Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi, Orhan Pamuk’s Snow, Left Foot in the Grave by Garry Nelson, and few of legal notes I photocopied from Iloilo Provincial Library. Of all in the list, except four books that I have read, I pick Pamuk’s Snow. 

It’s been three years now since I last read a piece by this celebrated author and with deep conviction I can well attest his prolificacy. From his My Name is Red to Colors, Pamuk is one of the boldest authors I’ve read – and perhaps the best ever Turkish author there is. I already told you about this, didn’t I? In case you haven’t tried one of his books, I recommend you start with Snow then followed by My Name is Red. 

The story’s plot is simple: There’s an exiled poet who was in love with the a beautiful divorced woman who was also in love with another man yet willing to give up everything for a single chance of leaving the politically torn place known as Kars for Frankfurt. What makes the novel extraordinary is its social impact in a society where politics and religion blend – usually resulting to turmoil. What happens in between this simple plot is the grace of creativity flowing into the story. There is also interplay of emotions as well intellectual juices that make the story a page-turner. If I were to deductively summarize the impact of the book, I can give you three points:

  1. That Pamuk’s style is very relevant to the present time. The series of revolution happening in Gulf right now mirrors the story of Kars. How? The root cause of revolution in the east is triggered by undying enmity between the Islamists and the desire to embrace the western concept of democracy. Some Islamists condemn the idea of democracy, simply because there is a tinge of hypocrisy, an element of distrust in part of the West for Arab nations. Anything that is western to them, especially the intellectual culture of Europe is plainly a product of secularism, and worst, of atheism. The result: War. And people can be very naïve to die for it.
  2. There’s no way of stopping a culture. It’s dynamic. Turkey, being part of Europe, is de facto the only Muslim nation member of the European Union. And being the sole Muslim member, they obviously have different culture. One of this is the propagation of the head-scarf for women. While this may be of unique religious value, people of Europe (at least some of them), condemn this practice. Why? Simple: Who knows, a suicide bomber is hiding there. 
  3. The search for Happiness. In political turmoil, or amidst war and catastrophe, who doesn’t want peace and happiness? For me, the novel is trying to suggest that true happiness can be found where there is peace. Ka, the poet, always long for a place where he could write freely, or he could make love freely (with Ipek) without having to mess with other people’s lives. He thought of Frankfurt, only to find out it was just like Kars. For even when he could evade the past in Kars, its memory would haunt him. The true happiness is where your heart is and where your heart is, there will be peace. 
So there you go, Rosa. The book is really good. Five star! It’s perfect for my post. It’s give a great pleasure to read this kind of book especially when you are surrounded by armed men who either talk about women or perpetually complaining that the government is extremely laggard . You know me very well. I don’t linger in conversations like that. So in order to take no offense, I always go to corner and get lost in my own world. Nothing is more fulfilling for me today than to sit with Pamuk at the back post… till the last page. What more can ask I for?

No comments:

Post a Comment