Whirlwind of Emotions: A Review of The Doodler of Dimashq
“Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here.” ― Leo Tolstoy
Ameenah’s world comes crashing around her, right from when she is married off at fourteen years of age. Displaced from her childhood home in Damascus, she struggles to fit into her new home in Aleppo. “Is one social convention that declared you man and wife enough to embrace an ocean of strangers as your own?” Kirthi asks, through Ameenah. Thankfully, Ameenah finds refuge in the love of her kind husband. That is when she is caught in the cross-hairs of the raging civil war in Syria. She struggles hard to find solace and hope through the only thing she loves to do—doodling!
The author, Kirti Jayakumar, is an activist, artist and writer. She combines all three of her loves to present this heart-wrenching story of little Ameenah. ‘The sea grew wild as the waves chased after one another in fully rounded swirls,’ the book begins. The first chapter is a poetic treat as the author plays around with a prose poem and weaves a tale so eloquent that you are hooked right from the first few pages. Ameenah becomes yours! You care for her, hope for her, pray for her, right from the first chapter because of Kirthi’s brilliant characterization.
“Silence became a friend, and the capacity to bend as far as possible and not break at all had made me a formidable willow in human form. I obeyed in the day, I obeyed in the night.” With just these two sentences, Kirthi has summed up Ameenah’s life in her in-law’s house. As we pray for her not to break, things much far worse ‘blast’ into her life.
All through the book, I was reminded of this quote by W.E.B. Du Bois, “Eastward and westward storms are breaking—great, ugly whirlwinds of hatred and blood and cruelty. I will not believe them inevitable.” Of course! While war is never inevitable, its possibility of being around the corner is scary and true. What with Donald Trump boasting that his nuclear button is bigger than Kim Jong-un’s, what with the exponentially increased value of a cow’s life over a human’s, what with the utter disregard to public and property in Mumbai recently for a battle fought in the British regime, what with racism, casteism and consumerism replacing altruism, Syria’s story could be ours.
Carefully researched, historically correct and artistically perfect, The Doodler of Dimashq is one book that you shouldn’t miss.