Thursday, August 10, 2006

Singed Book

The Caged Virgin by Ayaan Hirsi Ali is the most amazing book I have read in a long time. It was incredibly painful to read the graphic descriptions of female genital mutilations and the lifelong suffering it brought in its wake. Interestingly (but maybe not surprising given the theme and content) enough a few pages of the copy I read had burn marks on it .

J happened to see the marks and enquired about them. I told her what they were. Her comment was "Whoever did that must have been mad at the book. They must have put it in a toaster. But they did not have to. They could have just returned it" I did not know what to say to this and kept quiet. But J was intrigued and the questions came thick and fast.

"Why would anyone be so mad at a book ?" I wondered if it may be time for a history lesson - I could tell her about the many ancient libraries that had been burnt in the past. Maybe a lesson in current affairs would not hurt either - I could tell her about the Google's tacit compliance with the Chinese government to make the resources of the internet only selectively available to that country's citizens. I chose to hold my peace until she was old enough to understand any of that.

"What is the book all about ?" was the next question. I could have told her it was about a woman being brave beyond belief, daring to question and challenge at the risk of losing her life. I hope the world is a better place when J grows up and the Hirsi Alis of her time can speak their mind without being under the scepter of death.

It's not the first time that I have been stumped by J's difficult questions.

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