BOOK REVIEW: Son of the Thundercloud by Easterine Kire
Pele leads a simple life with his parents, wife and child, content with the harvest from his land. However, an unprecedented famine causes death of all his family members and Pele leaves his village. He wanders aimlessly hoping to reach the Village of Weavers where he is told he may get food and shelter.
Enroute, he stops at a highly desolate place with grey, parched earth where he meets two old women, sisters nearly 400 yrs old - Kethonuo and Sietze. The sisters claim they thrive eating hope and are waiting for the arrival of the Son of Thundercloud, one who will herald unbelievable changes for the better. Pele and the sisters are welcomed in the village of weavers by Mesanuo (younger sister of the older duo) who claims is impregnated with a single drop of rain.
Though titled Son of the Thundercloud, the story is of how Pele realises hope, love and longing sustain life for eternity, and how the dark side of human beings - hatred, greed, envy can wreak complete havoc.
Will the age old prophecy come true? What happens to Pele, Rhalietuo and the sisters?
Folk tales have a rustic charm. They impart simple joy, one like you get from resting your head on granny's lap while listening to her stories and comfort you get from hugging your mother - her cold, sweat soaked skin, her crumpled cotton saree easing the summer afternoon heat.
Easterine Kire's lyrical storytelling, simple prose blended with magical folklore in this book manages to create the above said effects partly, if not entirely.
BOOK REVIEW : The White Umbrella by Brian Sewell
Mr. B, a 50 yr old man from London is in Peshawar with his crew to make a TV series when he stumbles upon a donkey foal, wounded and tottering under the weight of loads piled on it. Eccentric Mr.B decides to take the donkey back home to England with him. He names her Pavlova after a famous ballet dancer.Dropping out of his planned flight journey, he decides to travel by foot from Peshawar to Wimbledon, via Quetta, Zahedan, Kerman, Isfahan, Tabriz, Doğubayazıt, Istanbul, Bosporus, then into Europe via Macedonia.
Mr.B though perceived as an addlepated crackbrain for his expedition westwards with a donkey gets great help from kind souls who ensure he reaches the next important town in his journey in some vehicle in comfort with Pavlova.A pharmacist in Peshawar, a poet in Zahedan, a carpet dealer in Isfahan, deputy governor in Dogubayazit, the British ambassador and his wife in Istanbul, Hector (who becomes a best friend for life) ferrying him all the way home after Macedonia, helping him smuggle the donkey across English channel are lustrous examples of kind hearted human beings.
Equally abundant are mentions of local food and drink - Kahraman Maraş, a eastern Turkish city famous for its elastic ice cream; Ayran, the refreshing buttermilk like drink of Iran, Slivovitz - the strong plum brandy of the Balkans, Piesporter - a fine German wine.
The White Umbrella, mostly humorous and little poignant is a tale of a man who loves animals down to his bones.
How Covid 19 pandemic has scarred us all cannot be conveyed in words as precisely and incisively as numbers specify a death toll. With oodles of compassion & empathy, this book on a normal day would have choked me with its utter sweetness. But for the current tumult, it managed to partly nullify the effects of a bad spell around us.