The Dove’s Lament is not an easy book to read. You might be tempted to put it away or shrug it off as something that you do not have a taste for. Maybe, even hide it at the bottom of your ‘currently reading’ stack; if not further away.
That is how painful, revolting, depressing and full of violence its stories are.
But you will be compelled to come back to it. Pull it out from the bottom of the stack and finish it.
Because that is how well crafted, and more importantly, real these stories are.
Over time, we have learned to tune out the newspapers and television, which cover the same dreadful events this book talks about. But this book makes those events hit closer to home. And by doing that, it takes away ‘that faraway world’ feeling; behind which we hide ourselves to preserve or maybe justify our way of life. I found it hard to turn these stories off in my mind, even long after I had read them. Because now, these horrific incidents weren’t only happening in faraway places like Sudan and Syria. They were happening to people I knew. People I could relate to. The way Kirthi has captured every subtle nuance of the victim’s emotions, the scenes of the crimes, the scale of those atrocities; after a point, it just becomes impossible to feign a disconnection.
And then, there is that map at the beginning of each story, marking out the part of the world it comes from. Now, I do not know if this was an intentional placement or if just happened, but for a reader from India, the map too acted as a catalyst for the overall experience of this book. As I flipped through the stories one by one, that small highlighted landmass on the map, moved from Rwanda to Bosnia to Afganistan; until I found it in India. The stories now spoke of Kashmir and Rajasthan, and suddenly, started to feel even more real, although one would have thought that that is no more possible. The names became familiar, the places became known and the pain reflected in those stories hit its crescendo.
Kirthi’s writing is straight from the heart, and her passion for humanitarian causes oozes from every word. Each story is followed by a short essay, stating the history and the current situation on these conflicts and issues which are ravaging humanity across the globe. The essays and stories are quite well researched, and make the stories even more relatable.
To me, the best part of the book is the concluding story. After reading of atrocities and oppression, page after page; reading about hope and humanity made it easier to end the book. It was reassuring to know that while we live in a world where, overnight, lifelong neighbors can turn into foes and unleash unspeakable suffering on you; there are also people out there, strangers, who would take you in and nurse your faith in humanity back to health.
The editing is crisp and well done. The language of the book is well above average and at places displayed an almost poetic beauty. The only area of development I could point out, is that at a few phrases (heart danced/beat a tattoo) have been repeated often. Although, I understand that the context were similar, but that makes it even more important for the language to be varied. Thankfully, such instances are but a few.
Other than that, The Dove’s Lament makes for an informative, soulful and interesting read.
You can buy book here.