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…High above the city, on a tall column, stood the statue of the Happy Prince.

Oscar Wilde‘s ‘The Happy prince‘ is one of the many stories that I have read during early school days. Remarkably, this is one of the few I still remember! I was barely able to read difficult English literature per se then, but still the story of Happy prince was within my grab. I don’t recollect whether I had understood all the words of Wilde, back then. This was at a time, when I was happily enjoying my schooling and life in my mother tongue Malayalam. Malayalam literature had its penchant style and aura, which is difficult to explain to non-Malayalam readers.  I was ‘at-home‘ when it came to reading the Malayalam literary works. Yet, I had thrived to learn English stories, albeit at a reduced speed. That whenever, I got a chance to read. Oscar Wilde was one of the rare English writers whose work, somewhat accidentally came to my reading list.  I was surrounded and enthralled by the works of great south American and Russian writers, otherwise. Partly, thanks to the communist influence in Kerala society, the translations of great Russian and south American books were far more available at ease  and at cheap rate (In fact I don’t remember buying anything, but all borrowed from various small local libraries around). 

Coming back to the Happy prince, the story had indeed put a stamp in my memory as a child.  I may have been 10 years or so when I was ‘introduced to’ the ‘Happy prince’.  The subdued request of the prince to the little swallow was by heart to me. When the prince says ” Swallow, swallow little swallow…”, my heart seemed to have resonated at a lower pace.  As a child, I had never seen an European city, for that matter any great city including the ones in India, let alone city across the Atlantic. It was all in my mind, that I’d imagined a mythical model of such a city, a city of the happy prince!  I used to visualise the position of the Happy prince statue standing tall in the middle of a city. Did I ever imagine the enormity of a city as big as this? As a child it is difficult to fathom and relate the seriousness of people’s struggle, a statue could see.  For sure, I was touched and moved by his sorrows and pain.

The swallow represented a role model so to speak  when it comes to helping others. Subconsciously, the little swallow literally drenched my cheeks by living through that difficult winter.  Back then, I had never seen what it is to be a snowy winter, still, could feel the chill of that season, when the shivering swallow wholeheartedly fulfilled the Prince’s wishes. Years later, the words “…Swallow, Swallow, little Swallow. Stay with me one night longer” still linger my ears. Tears still beckons! Perhaps that story have had a deep influence to me since childhood, to an extend that I’ve never imagined. As a child, I wished if only the swallow could go to Egypt, but alas!

Now, I have accidentally come across that very same story in video form in youtube. That brought in a rewinding of years! I feel the same chill now, as a 10 year old that I had felt years ago. I had told this story to Nivedita a few times. I could see her expression when I uttered the prince’s humble request “…Swallow, Swallow, little Swallow. Stay with me one night longer” .. The impact of Oscar Wilde’s powerful writing tells a story in itself. Don’t they?

…High above the city, on a tall column, stood the statue of the Happy Prince.

The prince and the swallow still stays on.. in my memory…I really want to tell this story to many kids! The youtube video is commendable too.

Over the weekend, I finished reading a very nice book, The Kite runner, by Khaled Khosseini, an Afghan born novelist. This is first of his books, that I have read. In fact this is his first book as well. The book is written in an easy story telling style, but he did an amazing job to make me really satisfied. There were echoes of pain and suffering and the realization that the fate of a nation and its people can sometimes be so cruelly altered by invasion of other nations. Ofcourse that is a starting point. Later on the so called protectors of God then take over and make an even more mess where humanity is let to shame. Well, we can go on and debate those issues which unfortunately is affecting like cancer to human society as a whole, across the world.

Coming back to the book: The story The Kite runner is the story of two young boys Amir and Hassen. The setup is in Afghanistan, where these boys are born and spent their childhood. Amir was born in an affluent family, but his mother dies immediately after his birth. Ali, a servant to Amir’s father (baba) and his wife have a son named Hassan. On strikingly similar terms, after Hassen was born, his mother elope with someone, leaving him too motherless. The two kids are growing up together. Hassen lives in a hut in Amir’s mansion, baba’s house as he often refers to as. Baba (amir’s dad) loves both these boys, but Amir finds he being more critical to him than Hassan. Youn Amir thinks that baba’s attitude is perhaps due to the fact that Amir is indirectly responsible for his wifes (Amir’s mother) death (she dies after Amir’s birth). Baba’s friend Rahim Khan however is more lenient and friendly to Amir, and he provide support and encouragement to young Amir to develop interest in writing stories.

Amir and Hassen grows up together, with Amir as the lead boy and Hassen more submissive and obedient friend. The Russian invasion to Afghanistan then changes their life forever. Amir find himself as an immigrant in California, whereas Hassan forced to take a route to Pakistan. Fate shows the cruel flip to Hassen and he dies. Years later Amir take a difficult trip down east to rescue Hasan’s son, all in the middle of the Taliban reign. A tocuh of unrealistic melodrama where Amir fights with the brutal Talibans, but that afar the story is incredibly nice and touching to the reader. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading this.

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