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My Son?s Story

It's a riveting account of the life and times of apartheid.

india Updated: Jun 12, 2006 14:31 IST

My Son’s Story
Nadine Gordimer
Price — Rs 330
Publication — Vintage

It is said that English is the second most popularly spoken language after Mandarin. In fact Mandarin is spoken only within China, which makes English the most international of languages.

The rise of the British Empire by which we mean the growth of colonialism in parts of Asia and Africa, also spread their language. Thus the English language enjoys a dominance amongst many of the emerging economies whose past have been tumultuous. South Africa is one such nation.

And while it is still in the grip of the last strains of apartheid, it leads us to examine the quality of life a few decades back in South Africa. Nadine Gordimer’s book My Son's Story is a riveting account of the life and times of apartheid. But more so it is an account of a journey undertaken by a family in their quest for freedom and desire for respectability based upon the doctrine of equality.

It is also the journey towards maturity. When the young boy becomes aware that his father is seeing a white woman he is appalled, and his life is shattered. His father is the local hero, a voice against the oppressive white rule. How could someone like him do such a blasphemous act? The sheer silence and weight of this secret bears upon the boy.

And yet towards the end he realises that he is not the only one bearing the load; that others around him have dealt with this in their own peculiar manner. Gradually as the whole family dives into the revolutionary war against the rulers, only the father is left behind.

My Son's Story is a sensual treat. Gordimer has crafted this story out of a mixture of abandoned sights and smells of Shanty Towns. For the reader the book is a window to a dream of a nation far away, and a glance stolen into the soul of a fellow fighter in that same nation.

First Published: Mar 04, 2006 12:36 IST