Titel: The Story Of A Brief Marriage
Author: Arudpragasam, Anuk
Pages: 208 Pages
This book was selected for the international bookclub that I'm attending. Every month we read a book based on the writers nationality in hopes to cover the planets countries at one point. I wasn't really looking forward Sri Lankas turn, as we had read so many war books over the last months, all of us wanted something relaxing, uplifting for a change. Well, life is no picnic, and thank god for that or I would never have read this book.
What's going on:
Two and a half decades into a devastating civil war, Sri Lanka’s Tamil minority is pushed inexorably towards the coast by the advancing army. Amongst the evacuees is Dinesh, whose world has contracted to a makeshift camp where time is measured by the shells that fall around him like clockwork. Alienated from family, home, language, and body, he exists in a state of mute acceptance, numb to the violence around him, till he is approached one morning by an old man who makes an unexpected proposal: that Dinesh marry his daughter, Ganga. Marriage, in this world, is an attempt at safety, like the beached fishing boat under which Dinesh huddles during the bombings. As a couple, they would be less likely to be conscripted to fight for the rebels, and less likely to be abused in the case of an army victory. Thrust into this situation of strange intimacy and dependence, Dinesh and Ganga try to come to terms with everything that has happened, hesitantly attempting to awaken to themselves and to one another before the war closes over them once more.
Like the title indicates, this is going to be brief. The book takes place during 24 hours but feels like a lifetime. Approximately 200 pages transport you in a vivid telling of Dineshs life in Sri Lankas warcamp. Countless delicate details brings you closer to this fragile character. I usually dislike too many detail description of things and scenes, but Anuks voice gives a meditative ring to it. Following Dineshs observations of the sleeping Ganga feels more intimate and vibrating with sexual tension than any actual sexscene I've ever read. For her he goes to wash himself, a shedding of the past, a rebirth so pure it breaks your heart. With the title in mind you fear every second they are apart, even when the constant bombing stops. The feeling of war gets lost for a while but never the angst.
A strong voice out there, I'm so happy to have been forced to read this book. Yes, it's hard to read, yes its hurtful and yes, it gets to you but boy was it worth it. A book that left me feeling as if I gained more than just 200 pages on my shelf.