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Thoughts On a Novel Of Pathos: ‘Letter To A Child Never Born’

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I am not fond of encapsulating a book in a review for every book retains a huge possibility of hermeneutics. Notwithstanding that, I will speak my mind upon this novel which triggers much as well as leaves much for perusal in life of a mother and her unborn children. Novels are purported to invoke those repressed feelings which we can not express blatantly and need someone else to be the mouthpiece, in this case a novelist. What stimulates me is that round great novels, we can relate our everydayness that we dwell nonchalantly; our everydayness from very big phenomenons to wee events which, however, slide away into the pit of history so furtively that we become entirely unaware of those.

Stories are perhaps what nobel laureate kazuo Ishiguro averred in his nobel lecture, viz. My twentieth century evening and other small breakthroughs: ” But in the end, stories are about one person saying to another: This is the way it feels to me. Can you understand what I’m saying? Does it also feel this way to you?” I agree with Ishiguro.

Italian novelist Oriana Fallaci’s novel, to wit letter to a child never born which is comprised of 128 pages is a read that takes you to a journey wherein each sentence forms a sullen image explaining sombre parts of a trapped human being – in this, a woman.

There resides in everybody a discerning potency to transfer or to spawn a new being – a child – that will arrive into this world out of blue and live for a period of time and then suddenly, end up into an eternal limbo – death. Such is a story that is in this novel. A desolate mother trying make sense of a mess that is bestowed upon her by a man who in a fling mixed love with discourse – made whoopee and left a drop of light in the uterus of her and ran away out of sheer panic. But in this, there is a huge amount of subterranean sadness and pity hidden down the veneers of sentences that novelist is making an effort to pass on; like in this: one starts empathising with all those women who are precipitated into conditions where there remains less chance to get out safely; rather unscathed. That means you are completely in a mess quite unexpectedly, but you ‘start’ loving the elements awarding you anguishes and creeps – the proverbial stockholm syndrome or something like that.

Besides, the first person of this novel is writing prospective letters, weaving fairy tales to bring into light the challenges that new-born will confront once he/she is born. Down the annals of story there are a number of different things that one can trace; like, there are slivers of existentialism and the very meaning of life per se. And the responsibilities carrying spiteful consequences that each woman is entitled to suffer and live with.

Interesting thing is that when the woman chooses to spawn the child left into her womb by that so-called Bohemian man and visits a doctor to check out the swelling belly and other pregnancy cramps to make sure everything is fine – there comes a time when she feels the child in her belly is dead. Meanwhile of all this melodrama, the woman by some sentimental bouts regrets her emotional decision to conceive the fetus all along the process to a well-formed child with traceable organs.

Nothing seems more vicious to a woman than finding herself continuously stuck in a network of obligations: to do this time this and that time that; or to refrain from selective things and be an obedient spouse. No one can measure the pain of a human being thrashed every so often and in that case fettered entirely to bound her leaving no room for indulgence. This is the picture of a stout conservative dispensation but the ones who have more free societies to claim rights outrightly and do things unwaveringly have to face challenges of other breed. The protagonist of this novel is of that free society wherein you can equally participate in public domains but are nevertheless subjugated in a slew of other modes.

Once a woman falls in love she is peppered with problems in veils of future plans, joys, gaiety and etc. So long as the relation thrives down meetings, feelings of sangam and lovely trysts everything looks obviously impeccable but once there something rips and mistakenly like in this case during making whoopee outside the knot of marriage and forgetting to take protection translates into unsavoury things. But the writer questions here the very banality of decadent societies that always raise eyebrows on women and give to man out of only being the proverbial ‘man’ a dispensation from all brunts that a woman if pregnant is bound to go through.

Meanwhile, reading this novel recalled again a scene from the novel of Kazuo Ishiguro, namely: Never let me go. Kathy – a clone girl impotent to conceive a child – who is also the protagonist of ishiguro’s novel, is a boarding school child and in that particular episode is in a dormitory listening to a song sung by Judy Bridgewater – the song was Never let me go. Kathy H said this precise line produced a strange feeling in her and she after listening this line began forming a glum imagery and started attributing this line to a woman who had a child after a very long time and in a certain apprehension of losing her was listening her the poignant line – Baby never let me go while waving her motherly in her arms. This is an inexplicably sad picture of two woman – one who is infertile enough to conceive a child and out of depravity imagining a woman who thinks she might loose her child therefore listening her lines of sad atmosphere.

Life is dreadfully short to only find a satisfactory meaning having the impetus to make something to some degree agreeable. And in this novel everything is hanging in the balance. At a point the protagonist is foreshadowing the question which the new-born might ask her like: ” why did you bring me into this world?” or some other questions of this ilk and she cries that what should I respond her then? How should I convince her? In true sense this novel is all about how we come into this world and by what means. Marriage gives an air of legality to bear children whereas procreating out side marriage run afoul the rules set by a system in which everything is in a deep nexus of traditions. And more often then not such things inculcate a brooding milieu of seeking out answers of things like death and very beginning of life.

Perhaps, it is mysterious sitting on a beach or by a river when the sun is all but setting: thinking something like will sun appear the day I’m no more?

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Naya Daur