By Sanskriti Singh
Each time I read the works of Jean Sasson, I’m awe-struck. The way she narrates the atrocities on women is splendid. I always find her books fascinating.
The stories she tells have an enchanting aura that none can ever forget. Desert Royal was the first book written by her that I read and that’s the magic she has in her pen. The more I read her works I feel like reading more. The suppressing world of deserts will move every reader to tears. Not only fascinating, it’s disheartening that a part of the world suffers endlessly and we don’t believe their words.
Jean Sasson has written endlessly in the genre of human rights but what makes it so appealing? That’s what people ask. So her work abides writers because it’s all true, stories narrated by native women imprisoned and crushed by men and the hopeless government.
Love in a Torn Land is the story of the struggle of Joanna, for freedom and love. In 1987 Saddam Hussein got Joanna’s village bombarded by chemical explosives that made her flee from the place. But there’s not only this but a lot more in this novel. Concentration of power in the hands of a corrupt government that waged a war against its own people led to endless sufferings by the Kurds living in Iraq under Saddam’s rule.
A highly corrupt government that has no rules along with a male dominating society where women are suppressed every time they try to find space, and a population of people fighting against each other are the defining elements of this country.
Joanna was a girl from an Arab father and a Kurd mother. She is the daughter of a common man, a deaf and dumb whose furniture factory has shut down due to war. The youngest child with loving parents and lovely siblings who truly love and admire her, and brothers who are different from the other male population of the country. She is surrounded by love and care. A lost life that has no surety of being alive, she faces a bombardment each day in her country witnessing war each day.
Her whole childhood is full of the sounds of exploding bombs and fired bullets. After this she falls in love with a freedom fighter, a Kurd. Her love has no directions till he proposes marriage.
Do not declare your war on me
In this case
I am a weary stranger in this town
Do not torture me
From there afar, thousands are persecuting me
Stay with me and make me happy
I only have your eyes to make me happy.
These are few lines of his many poems sent to Joanna as his proposal to marry him and make him alive. The words of the novel attract a reader and make one read it with all the heart and make one believe in the power that love professes.
When I was a child I built a wall of hatred around me
When I was asked ‘from what did you build this wall?’
I replied ‘From the stones of insults’
This story is about Joanna Al-Askari who had dared to love in a land torn apart by ‘people of repute’ and burnished by the endless and unfruitful war that were fought each day in the land that could have been a land full of history and heritage. Her quest for freedom and her war against her own limitations and fears are heart-wrenching.
The book takes a human look at the struggle of Kurds in Iraq and one woman’s heroism, temporally blinded by the chemical attack and rescued by her Kurdish husband.
Shocking, candid, sad, sobering and absolutely riveting, this is what I can say about this book.
I cherish the moments I spent reading this beautiful life story of Joanna Al-Askari and I admire my collection of books by Jean Sasson.
(The author is a Class XI student of Loreto Convent)
Book: Love In A Torn Land; Author: Jean Sasson; Publisher: Bantam Books; Price: Rs 399; Pages: 432