Sea Prayer– This Hosseini’s book is a lot of firsts of mine. It is my first ever hardcover book, my first ever picture-illustrated book (excluding childhood story books), and my first ever book that took not more than ten minutes (this, I’m being generous) for its completion.
Here is the thing about Sea Prayer- the most crucial fact about Sea Prayer, you may say- it’s everything but a novel. Sea Prayer, for most of the part, is about the illustrations (by Dan Williams), speckled with few lines, which end up looking more like poetry, throughout 40-something pages. This book is a tribute to Alan (the 3-year old Syrian refugee whose name floated around the world after his body washed ashore while in the search for a life away from the bombs and blood and debris.) Sea Prayer foregrounds the helplessness of a father, his powerlessness to protect his kid. And just as it was supposed to, the book does its work efficiently. It makes you think. It makes you wonder. It makes you empathize and sympathize.
It seems Hosseini knew what he wanted to do with the book from the start. He knew he didn’t want a fiction here. He knew it’s non-fiction this time that will do the job, that will resonate with the readers, that needs to be written about, to be talked about, to be thought about, that needs to be etched in the readers’ hearts.
Reading Sea Prayer reminded me of a small story that I had written sometime back- ‘Will there be a Six?’. It was roused by the same devastation that Syria underwent at that time, and, unfortunately, is still undergoing; by the same emotion that makes your stomach churn and heart bleed when you think about that kid, the kid for whom the only world is the world of bombs and blasts and blood and tears and pain and shrieks. There must be hundreds of kids who are living the same, common fate- fate of living in a merciless world of hatred and killing.
This greed for power, to be the ruler, to own the world, to hijack the planet, this insane lust has sucked out the very spirit of humanity that make him a human. As I had said in one of my stories, ‘The Cheesy Couple’- Hatred is what is contagious, not love. And such ugly face of human, unfortunately, only weakens my faith on humanity. It was long back when humanity was on the verge of extinction; it seems to have become extinct, at least in some parts of the world. More often than not I wonder, I in fact question- When did we stop being humans?
It broke my heart to read about Alan after such a long time. Nothing of what I read was new. I knew what had happened, why it had happened. But the pain that the words and illustrations evoked, it all just worked as a reminder to what humans have become, as a slight nudge to be wee bit kinder whenever possible, as a gentle push to love and spread love.
Sea Prayer is a slim read, not at all time-consuming, but I’m sure it must have taken more than those few minutes to finish writing this book. It always amazes me that how a reader takes few minutes or hours to finish reading a story or a novel, but how it takes a writer days or months or, maybe, even years to write one. All the efforts that are put into writing a piece, all the brainstorming and churning of ideas, it all takes more than just a writer’s time; it takes his energy, his hopes, his wishes, his faith, his peace. And then comes out a piece of work that appears to have been stitched with a same colored thread, but only the weaver knows how many colors were to be tried and tested and used to make, what we call an art-work, look the way it finally looks.
Although the author of the book is Hosseini, but it was beautiful illustrations by Dan that brought all the feelings to the fore. Sea Prayer, unlike any of Hosseini’s other three books, is the result of this mesmerizing combination of words and illustrations. You will pick the book up and put it back down within a few minutes, but the words and illustrations will not leave you; they will suck you back into the very turmoil and introspection; they will ask for time in your heart. Just like they asked for in mine, and this piece is its result.
Have you read ‘Sea Prayer’? If you have, what are your thoughts on the book, the illustrations, the very concept of the book? Or do you intend to read it? Do share.
IF YOU ARE A FIRST- TIME VISITOR OF MY BLOG, DO REFER ‘First-Timers‘. IT WOULD HELP YOU IN EXPLORING THE PLACE.
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