Walk in the Light While There is Light by Leo Tolstoy

Posted by 2018  •  article

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The novel opens with a sentence from a letter written by Saleem, a young Muslim on remand in Leeds. "Mother, I am now in jail, in this bitch of a country called England. I may never see you again."

As a schoolchild, Saleem had been sent to live with relatives in Bradford; now he is as much an Englishman as a Pakistani. In the 1980s, he has become the leader of a group of disaffected young Muslims, and as a wave of riots sweeps the country, he is arrested and charged with conspiracy to blow up public buildings.

Out on bail, he is told of his mother's illness, and skips the country to return to Pakistan. He's hoping to be reconciled with his mother, but she dies before he gets there. Back in the village where he was born, Saleem tries to settle into a relationship with his remaining family, but is haunted by the sense that, in choosing him as the one to send away, his mother had rejected him.

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The novel opens with a sentence from a letter written by Saleem, a young Muslim on remand in Leeds. "Mother, I am now in jail, in this bitch of a country called England. I may never see you again."

As a schoolchild, Saleem had been sent to live with relatives in Bradford; now he is as much an Englishman as a Pakistani. In the 1980s, he has become the leader of a group of disaffected young Muslims, and as a wave of riots sweeps the country, he is arrested and charged with conspiracy to blow up public buildings.

Out on bail, he is told of his mother's illness, and skips the country to return to Pakistan. He's hoping to be reconciled with his mother, but she dies before he gets there. Back in the village where he was born, Saleem tries to settle into a relationship with his remaining family, but is haunted by the sense that, in choosing him as the one to send away, his mother had rejected him.

I’ve read many stories of revenants and apparitions, but my ghosts merely disappear. I never see them. They haunt me by not being there, by the table where no one eats, the empty window that lets the sun in without a shadow.

Few memories give me a sense of my childhood—perhaps, later, more will surface. Among those few is the darkened room from which proceed my mother’s moans. This is not a particular moment that I remember; it is the background of many years, nearly all my early life. She moans for so many reasons that it will be difficult more than to suggest their range. Probably I am ignorant of her most exquisite pains. I know enough not to make light of lamentations.

Sometimes I could get her to play the piano. She sat at the battered old upright, her eyes shut, picking out what she could remember of a Chopin polonaise or some cheap waltz from 1920. And then—what really moved her— Brilliant Variations, by someone named Butler, on Pass Me Not or other hymn. I was fascinated by the way she kept her eyes closed. To glance at the music, just as to read a paragraph of print, gave her migraines.


Light While There Is Light: An American History by Keith.

Posted by 2018  •  article

 
 

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