The Terrorist's Daughter - A book review
- 21 Posts
- Age 20
I used to be quite an avid reader ever since I can recall. I was in the habit of reading through everything I could get my hands on. I often sat up long hours reading - even went to the extent of missing out on my school homework because it was quite impossible for me to put aside a good book once I started reading. I was often "branded" a boring kid, because I preferred staying indoors and reading, over the stuff that most kids my age used to do. After all, I was born an introvert and did not bother to force myself out of my comfort zones until much later in life.
Enough with that now - this post is not about me. It's about a book that reminded me about my childhood.
I do not know much about the author, Thisuri Wanniarachchi, or her background apart from the fact that she has previously authored a novel named Colombo Streets which earned her the State Literary Award for Best Novel of the Year in 2010, thus making her the youngest Sri Lankan author to claim the distinction. Her brother Senel, is known to me as an influential youth activist and journalist in Sri Lanka, and it is through him that I came to know of the book and it's recent launch.
This book is titled The Terrorist's Daughter and is set in a number of places across the globe, but is dramatically centred on a key chain of events that happen in Sri Lanka. It captures moments from the early stages of the 28-year-long civil war to its aftermath, and subsequent peace. I do not wish to go in to spoilers and give away the story. But in a nutshell, this is the story of a Tamil girl adopted by a Norwegian father and a Scottish mother, a girl whose true identity and origins (of being the daughter of a top level LTTE* fighter) stands to take away from her the seemingly carefree life she enjoys in Sri Lanka.
As such, this book brings out a strong notion of struggling and striving for survival in a system which is not willing to accept you for who you are. More than the literal narration of the girl's story, what kept me glued to the pages therefore was the emotional outcry of Thalya - the protagonist, the terrorist's daughter - and at times, that of her friends.
The author has taken the liberty to express her passionate views through the characters she brings to life (or so I think).
"People keep saying someone should fix the system, the system is corrupt. What they don't get is; they are the system"
"Love is an intimate personalised emotion. Love is, to each its own. Love is not a universal feeling that comes out of some cookie cutter. Love is not a franchise. Love is something unique to everyone, that's what makes it special."
At some points, the author uses her characters to give insights to the corrupt deeds of some elitist capitalists in Sri Lanka (and in a broader sense, in many countries around the world). These often come out in the form of confessions.
"The way the country works right now, it's like the way it was in the 1920s. Like colonialism, except we do it to our own people. We seize their lands, we tax them unbearable amounts, and we make them pay outrageous amounts of money to us for their electricity, water, petrol,and the gas in their cooker. And we live off them. I'm so scared to live like this. I'm so scared to ga back to that house built from black money."
And sometimes in the form of accusations.
"They may not seem like it, but they are evil and numb to everyone around them. There's nothing they won't do to get what they want. I don't want to live in this country anymore. It's not our country anymore. It's their country. It's their world, and we just live in it. The moment they want us gone, we go. Like obedient cattle."
As much as the book has proven successful in capturing the predicaments of war and it's aftermath (from a less viewed angle, I should say), it has also given spirit to the author's love for her home country in an intricately woven story of acceptance. One of the reasons I value this work is that it's connotations are delivered in the same passion and strength as the main storyline.
I have outgrown novels and short stories and the artistic works of literature to take to the more technical jargon on what I read for my studies. The transition was quite unintentional and smooth. The Terrorist's Daughter took me back in time to my childhood; when I used to enjoy stories of all kinds; short and long, in verse and in prose, realistic and magical. And like a good book is supposed to do, The Terrorist's Daughter made me miss out on some Business Finance. I don't regret it.
*Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam - the ruthless terrorists who devastated Sri Lanka for 3 decades.