Reading Stitches
Books, Poetry, Things I Wish I Knew For Sure, and not all that much about Knitting

Feb 24, 2009

The Wasted Vigil

As I watched him discuss his current book, The Forever War, I could see the chaotic reality with which Dexter Filkins lives. The horrific memories of human atrocities were mapped across his face throughout the New York Times reporter's interview with Charlie Rose. His eyes held the dry, fixed expression of a man who has seen too much, and who, now, finds it hard to close them. The shocking, yet understandable, fact that he missed that day-to-day horror and heart-pumping drama was what stood out for me, and I found myself both craving and rejecting his life.

What remains for me is the question of how we live after war. How do we go on? Day after day I might wake up wondering what will become of my life, but I do not wonder about my mortality, or what dangers I might encounter. I can well see that I could become accustomed to the charged awareness, the adrenaline for breakfast. And, landing after on solid ground and with a view of clear skies, with no easily apparent injuries, the forced withdrawal must be almost maddening.

With The Wasted Vigil by Nadeem Aslam, I am experiencing a rather elementary-school version of that horrified, yet transfixed, attachment. It's not often I can say that I miss the characters in a novel; but more than missing the individuals, Casa, David, Lara, Dunia and Marcus, I miss their lives. I became accustomed to Aslam's compassionate yet harsh imagination, and his very precise rendering of the mixed-up realities of war-torn Afghanistan. Each character gracefully tells a history of war, religion, personal relationships, and how one lives day-to-day in the chaos of terror. I am left with both a desire to know more, to continue to have each of these characters teach me about their lives and emotions, and a sense of horror that I could possibly want to experience more of the ugly realities of human cruelty.

Is it both a craving for, and rejection of, a deeper understanding of what makes me human?


craftivore said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog! You have some deep questions brewing here that I'm not sure I have an answer for. I respect that fact that you're delving into it fearlessly.

Cyn said...

Thank you! I almost forgot I started this blog! I should clean up my act, and get moving on it. : )