Got Readers Block this April. I was somehow not able to sit down with a book. And then I got a Kindle Paperwhite. Yes, inspite of this rant, I went ahead and got one. And yes, I’m loving it.
Inaugurated it with The Betrayal.
The Siege made me cold and depressed, The Betrayal made me frustrated and angry.
Ten years after The Siege, Anna, Andrei and Kolya live a happy contended life. The horrors of the siege and the war are slowly fading away and they look forward to the small joys of life like a lazy weekend at the dacha and the hospital ball. And then terror strikes again, this time in the form of stupidity. Yes, there is no other word to describe it, and I shudder when I realise that this kind of stupidity is not just pure fiction.
Andrei gets pulled into treating a little boy with a cancerous growth, the boy being the son of a highly placed dangerous police officer with the MGB. Cancer does its thing and the father, a paranoid Stalin era idiot, sees conspiracy. He sees saboteurs, spies , Jews and everything else in a what is infact a disease that god, a god they are not allowed to believe in, is to be blamed for.
The book takes you into the depths of the horror that is the Lubyanka in Moscow where people are mercilessly thrown into for their crimes, crimes as shocking as ‘insufficient vigilance’. Don’t report an anti govt joke made at a party? Get a year in prison. Solitary confinement where people communicate through soap impressions and attempt toilet paper scribbles. Cells as large as cupboards where you’re not allowed to sit or even lean against a wall and conveyor belt interrogations that last for days.
And then it also takes you to a safe dacha in the village where there’s a new life being born. And a much awaited death, a death that brings hope.