A couple of years back, a civil resistance rocked the country of Tunisia. There were a series of street demonstrations in retaliation to corrupt governance, a growing inflation and a high rate of unemployment. The protests finally led to the ousting of the then President. The Tunisian Revolution was intense and the wave of change brought in freedom and democracy. The revolution was popularly titled the Jasmine Revolution and soon spread to Egypt, Libya and Morocco. Jasmine Days is based at the time of this revolution. Originally written in Malayalam by Benyamin and translated by Shahnaz Habib, it won the inaugural JCB Prize in 2018.
Book for my political thoughts
I may not be vocal about it (well, at most times), but I do possess strong political opinions. I vote at every election, and do gather information from sources on the candidate I would cast my vote for. And at a time when political fever seems to be gripping the country, reading the book Jasmine Days was just apt. The story line weaves in freedom, democracy, nationalism and patriotism, all together.
Sameera Parvin, a young radio jockey from Pakistan lives in a city in Middle East, when a revolution breaks out. Working for Orange Radio, her life is spent between her job and her close knit family. She builds a beautiful friendship with her colleague Ali. It turns out to be a unique sort of friendship, with Sameera sharing her passion for music with Ali, and Ali sharing his nationalist and revolutionary ideas with Sameera. The friendship takes on a new meaning when the city is torn apart by riots and conflicts. Amidst the protests and intolerance all around her, Sameera needs to take her stand and make some firm decisions- of what is right and what is wrong. In her journey of self-discovery, she needs to place together her very own ideologies on humanity, patriotism and nationalism.
The book is a bit slow, yet the narrative with its ability to create a raw picture of a city strewn with communal violence and religious sentiments, wins over the reader. Insightful, Jasmine Days speaks volumes on freedom and fighting for one’s identity. I wouldn’t consider it a light read, for it gets you thinking and does put you into those serious introspective modes.
Introspections and pre-conceived notions
Jasmine Days may well be a political fiction but what sets it apart is the message that it throws out loud and clear—- Frame your own opinions after you consider all sides- political or otherwise. We humans do have pre-conceived notions. Almost all of us do.
These notions are influenced strongly by hearsay and off late by the bombardment of content on social media. We often fail to weigh them equally and reason them out. The end result is nothing but bias in various thoughts as well as in political opinions and decisions.
In today’s times it does seem impossible to frame one’s own without being influenced, however when one does weigh all sides equally, he sure does evolve into a fine human being.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
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