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The promise in uncertainty: MH370 and after

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The promise in uncertainty: MH370 and after

Life after mh370: journeying through a void

Author- KS Narendran

Publisher- Bloomsbury, Rs 399

A 50-something man who takes his wife’s timely return from the airport for granted writes about being forced into a world where he is one of the many who lost their loved ones to the MH370 mystery, writes UMANG AGGARWAL

The therapeutic aspect of writing binds the pages of Life After MH370: Journeying Through a Void. It deals with the strangely reaffirming and calming quality of the space one creates for retelling what it was that threatened to break them and changed their lives permanently. There are no tears in this book. No space for feeling sorry for oneself or for holding the universe responsible for one’s harsh treatment is allowed by the author. Instead, it is a balanced, conscious effort at stating the facts and in the process, coming to terms with them gracefully.

It’s a genuine search for some semblance of relief and normalcy in the face of uncertainty and loss. The author-narrator talks about the difficulty of doing so in a coherent manner when the narrative one is dealing with is so ‘personal’. K.S. Narendran introduces himself as one of the many who had lost their loved ones to the mystery that was MH370. He had lost his wife, Chandrika. He describes her as a major source in the development of his ‘social conscience’. She is often the non-conformist who would force him to analyze his views on most subjects, the almost inspiring partner who not only manages hectic work weeks but also makes guests feel welcome at home. And, she is also the worrying wife who nags until Narendran does what is necessary for his health.

After a description of the beautiful ‘normal’ life that the couple shared, he swiftly, without overindulgence in sentimentality, moves to a description of the rude shock to this life. The marriage that survived disagreements over value systems and beliefs is suddenly shook up by something that would be ridiculous if it wasn’t so tragic — an entire plane full of passengers each of whom had their own version of normalcy awaiting them just like Chandrika’s was awaiting hers, went missing.

In the rest of the book he deals, degree by degree, with the impact that not even knowing what it was that happened to your life partner, has on an individual. He deals with the idea of going from a husband who is very confused and worried on finding out that the flight his wife was on has disappeared to one of the many saddened soldiers in an army of people who demanded answers from government, from each other, from the media — anybody possible to get some sense of where their dear ones could be. This solidarity that arises out of this puzzling tragedy, feels strange to him but also becomes one of the very few sources of relief.

The idea of sleeping in a little longer and ignoring the wife’s call because you know she’ll be back from the airport any moment or of not being able to fathom the gravity of the situation on first being informed that the flight cannot be traced, have a great degree of silence and poise in them.

After a description of the beautiful ‘normal’ life that the couple shared, he swiftly, without overindulgence in sentimentality, moves to a description of the rude shock to this life. The marriage that survived disagreements over value systems and beliefs is suddenly shook up by something that would be ridiculous if it wasn’t so tragic — an entire plane full of passengers each of whom had their own version of normalcy awaiting them just like Chandrika’s was awaiting hers, went missing.

These few lines from the book can probably best sum up the author’s project- “This, then, is the bald summary, and perhaps no narrative can convey the incredulity with which all this was received, the distress that it triggered, and the seeds of doubt and suspicion that it allowed to germinate. Subsequent developments only exacerbated the growing trust deficits with the official narrative, fuelled anger and rendered any reconciliation with the new realities beyond reach.”

Narendran even shares pictures of his wife from when the led a happy life together. The tone as well as the content of the book reassures one of the promise the author makes to the readers in the very beginning of the book — the idea behind writing it is not to somehow merit sympathy or public attention. It is just the channel he chooses to tell one of the 239 painful stories from the MH370 ‘incident’.

 
 
 
 
 

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