The Forty Rules of Love by Elif Shafak

Poetry.

Love.

Sufi.

What is the first name that pops in your head when you read these three words?

RUMI. 

That’s what comes to me, and I’m pretty sure that’s the name which strikes most of you as well.

But Rumi as we know him, was not always the same. He was a scholar, a preacher who led a secure life, admired and loved by all.

He was not a poet.

He was not a Sufi.

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“Glory be to God, an ocean is walking behind a lake.”

And then he met Shams of Tabriz. The wandering dervish became not just his companion but a mirror to his soul. Their relationship became a victim of slander, malicious gossip and Rumi’s once unimpeachable reputation was destroyed. Familial strife, enmity and innumerable hardships later, as Rumi unlearned everything he knew, he became the one he was meant to be.

A Poet. A Sufi. A Lover.

Elif Shafak describes this wild beauty of love, the meaning of life, the tests to find true love, the way to peace and a lot, lot more through her magnificent work.

All of this however remains as a part of a manuscript called Sweet Blasphemy by Aziz Zahara which Ella Rubenstein is reviewing. As her personal life runs parallel to Rumi and Shams, the reader enjoys the stark contrast and sweet similarities between Zahara and Ella which brings about texture and twists to the novel.

The Forty Rules of Love shows how the Sufi way established 800 years ago is still relevant, perhaps more so in this age of chaos.  Perhaps if we could learn a little from the Religion of Love, the enlightened Shams and Rumi our souls could heal a little.

Love,

Zoya 😘

P.s. If you want me to write a post on the 40 rules which Shams laid down, let me know in the comment section. You can also email me at : thebigbiblionaire@gmail.com

 

Review: Maneka’s Choice by Kavita Kane

A woman’s tale of love, loss and sacrifice, Kavita Kane spins her story borrowing characters from Hindu mythology and recreates them. Hindu mythology, essentially scripted by men, for men fails to emphasise the importance of women and their huge role in the shaping of historical events. Kavita Kane takes it upon herself to initiate and carry forward this daunting task.

Her wronged heroine, Maneka- the most glorious and beauteous of all apsaras pines for just one thing- family, but heaven, despite all it’s cold and stifling bounty and apparent freedom has nothing to offer to her. Surrounded by devas and gandharvas who are besotted by her pulchritude and apsaras who are jealous, heaven is not a happy place for this daughter of Brahma.

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It is when she is given the task of seducing Vishwamitra whose intense tapasya threatened Indra’s throne in Amravati that she devises a scheme to free herself from Indra’s tyranny. What started out as a plan to protect the sly deva Indra soon morphed into love- so deep and tempestuous that it overshadowed everything else. Through the love of Vishwamitra, Maneka finally has all the happiness she craved, but her love couldn’t be selfish anymore. So she propelled Vishwamitra towards the greatness he deserved and made him who he was- a Brahmarishi, the likes of whom the ‘loks’ hadn’t witnessed.

It is the story of a woman so strong, that she alone changed the destinies of the ‘loks’ and the future of all mankind. It is the story of her sacrifice, her eternal everlasting fountain of love whose flow never ebbed but immersed the throes of heaven. A love not whimsical and fiery like that of man but like deep, calming waters which gave life, sustained life, built greatness and could never be vanquished.

Zoya😘

 

 

Review: Looking For Alaska by John Green

Teenage years – a very controversial period of man’s entire existence. Somehow, we can all come up with atleast one major regret from those years.

Looking for Alaska – a book exploring such regrets makes a good attempt to explain teenagers. But teenage never makes sense ( nor does adult life for that matter).

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Miles Halter, in order to escape his boring and friendless existence in Florida, gets enrolled in Culver Creek, Alabama for high school.  Boarding school brings with itself smart friends, new classes, adventures, pranks and complicated relationships.

The boredom of his quiet and routinely life is shaken up by Alaska, who introduces him to the many firsts of his life. Besotted by a girl, who is haunted by monsters of her past and oscillates between extremes of happiness and sorrow, Miles’ love life is a tragic one.

A life altering event follows and as his world falls apart, Miles shows teens and adults alike what it is to grow up and how does it actually feel like. There’s no big demarcation on when one grows up but a silent moment which seamlessly blends with all others and you find yourself with burdens you’ll forever carry.

Since it is written in the perspective of a teenage boy, the book sometimes feels immature. Indian readers may also not relate to the high school experience of Miles because ours is very different. But the book does make for an interesting one time read.

Zoya 😘

Review: A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

Once in a while, we come across a book that forever remains etched in our memory. A Thousand Splendid Suns, the finest work of one of the finest authors of our times is one such book. It shows that despite man’s attempt to explain it, there is no justification of war. Ever. This unforgettable novel captures the extent of suffering that war invokes on the lives of two women.

Mariam suffers the stigma of being an illegitimate child and the death of her mother results in her marriage to Rasheed- a man much older than her. The routine of a loveless marraige, a lonely existence and abuse is disturbed by the entry of Laila almost twenty years later.

Laila a young, privileged girl is deprived of her mother’s love who pines for her sons who’ve gone off to war. The only light of Laila’s existence is Tariq. As Laila and Tariq grow up, the camaraderie of their childhood blossoms into something deeper and tender yet beautifully strong. But the war, snatches from her, not just her brothers but also her parents and her beloved, Tariq. Lost and alone, she has no choice but to marry Rasheed.

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The relations between Mariam and Laila are strained but eventually grow as strong as the bond between mother and daughter. So strong that they endure unimaginable hardships for each other.

The book shows the true spirit of women, how unbearably courageous they are and what lengths they will go to for their loves. It tells that love between a man and woman does not have to be idolised by death as propagated by ‘Laila and Majnoon’ but by life like ‘Laila and Tariq’. The best love story I have ever read, is not a love story at all. It takes us to the darkest abyss of grief and destroys us, breaks us. And then A Thousand Splendid Suns rise, in all their glory and shine upon us. Life is not so bad after all, if only we have the courage to love.

Zoya 😘

 

Review: To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

The ways of the world often baffle us. As adults however, we often compromise and agree with the general opinion in order to maintain harmony. Children though, are free from such restrictions.

Picturing Alabama in the 1930s, To Kill A Mockingbird is a beautiful story seen through the eyes of young Scout Finch. Her elder brother, Jem Finch and Dill, their friend are her partners in crime. The gangs’ wild imagination and antics make one reminisce their own childhood escapades. The children, fascinated with Boo Radley, the neighbourhood recluse think of ingenious ways to catch a glimpse of him, resulting in hilarious outcomes.  As often as they fill the reader with nostalgia and make them laugh out loud, they also stun them with their keen understanding of situations , sometimes even better than the so-called adults.

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The Pulitzer Prize winning novel, deals with the sensitive issue of racism and rape. A black man is charged with the rape of a white girl and Atticus Finch ( Scout’s father ) has to defend him.

Atticus, an educated man, who is much ahead of his time and blessed with progressive thinking has a certain charm and quiet grit that will make you root for his case. He is not a typical hero, but one who will inspire you in many ways. It is his strength of character, the courage to fight for what is right and to stand up against acceptable norms is what makes him so memorable.

Apart from attacking the absolutely meaningless but prevalent idea of racism, the book also teaches a thing or two about parenting.

Since the story unravels under the unbiased view of a child it has a special kind of authenticity and innocence.

Zoya 😘

Review: My Name Is Red by Orhan Pamuk

My Name Is Red- a book written by Turkish author Orhan Pamuk is as different as its name. It is based in Istanbul in the late 1590s.

The Sultan has secretly commissioned his master miniaturists to depict his reign in a great book, but in the European style. Things however, take a gory turn when one of the miniaturists is brutally murdered. In order to solve the mystery, the master has to seek help from outside.

The author becomes various characters through the course of the book which makes  it exceptionally intriguing. It depicts a form of narration not seen before. The story offers an insight into the different perceptions of people of the same event.

The book trails the history of the art of illumination in the Muslim world. The book not only has action, murders and mystery, it  also has justification of everything that occurs. It captures and captivates the audience by culminating longing, sorrow, joy and a beautiful love affair.  It expresses with subtlety the variety of loves felt by humans and its impact on their lives.

As happens with most translations, the reader may sometimes feel that continuity is lost as musings of present matters often mingle with escapes into the history of illumination.

However passing that hurdle turns out to be very rewarding as the book takes us through an educating and emotional journey.

A winner of the International Dublin Literary Award, 2003 this historical novel is a charming and intellectually satisfying narrative.

Zoya 😘

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