Friday, March 20, 2015

The beginning of a chapter. What do you think?

When I asked my mother about the roadside bodies, she got a funny look on her face and said, “You didn’t see them.”

“I did see them.”

“How?”

“On the way to school. Looking out the bus windows.”

She sighed. “I thought we’d shielded you from them.”

I'd been unsure of this memory, until her confirmation. "So they really were dead?"

She nodded.

“How did they die?”

 “Well, some of them died of starvation. And others from the river flooding.”

We lived in New Delhi when East Pakistan rose up against West Pakistan and fought to gain independence. India, geographically between the two, entered the war in late 1971. For us this mean air raids over Delhi.

In the summer of  1972, we moved to Dhaka (then Dacca), capital of newly independent Bangladesh and site of my roadside bodies. Bangladesh is low, and floods regularly. Two years prior, the devastating Bhola cyclone had flooded the Bay of Bengal, killing half a million people and leaving unimaginable devastation in its wake.

Even without disasters, there were many easy ways to die: starvation, smallpox, cholera, malaria, to name only a few. You could even just get diarrhea from contaminated water and die of dehydration.

10 comments:

  1. It's sad / amazing what you can get used to if it's... just there. Some of what I've seen makes me sick, but then you get the "but what can I do" complacency because some problems are so big, and others are just outside of your ability to affect.

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    1. Yes. And in countries with such extremes, you become inured to things that people new to the place are immediately devastated by. And as a kid, whatever is around you is your norm, even if it's not generally considered normal.

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  2. I think I'm going to be riveted to your book. I hope its part of a book!

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    1. I think so! Thank you very much, Lynn!

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  3. I would love to read more... in a morbid way. I read a book within the past year or so about this war, it was non-fiction, and I can't for the life of me remember the name, but was unbelievable to me that things like this could happen. The author told a story of one side shipping rail cars of dismembered body parts to the other as a sign.

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    1. Oh, my. I think I'd have a hard time with that story! I don't actually have a lot of morbid details.

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    2. Ok it was bothering me too much, simple google search of "nonfiction Pakistan war" turned it up: The Faithful Scribe: A Story of Islam, Pakistan, Family, and War.

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    3. Oh, wow. I will check it out...although I soemtimes don't do well with lots of grizzly details.

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  4. Oh Lisa! I cannot wait to read your book!

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    1. You are so endlessly lovely, Laura!

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