Book Review: Wave by Sonali Deraniyagala

ImageEach one of us have a distinct way of coping with a tragedy. And yet, the similarity is threadbare and stark. There are stages which we trudge through in our attempts to reconcile with the fact at hand and despite years rolling by, it is sometimes difficult to completely let go. The emotions inhabit a peculiar middle-ground in that they are there and yet not completely so. Evolution of emotions I call that. Adjusting to the realities and breaking bread daily with the trauma. 

Wave is about the author’s attempts to provide a consciousness to her existence post the incident that took everything that she considered life. Brutally honest and emotional, this account moves back and forth between the memories of an earlier “dream” life, and a latter, harsher life. Petty and inconsiderable things strike you in ways you could never imagine when your emotions can hit extremities in a flash. Reading about the trauma of others is fraught with dangers of generalization and oversimplification. A first-hand story such as this further carries the risqué of reading it like fiction. And yet, as one reads through the harrowing details of life after doomsday, one realizes that such readings can be therapeutic in more ways than one. Identifying yourself with the author, and trying to know what she feels is empathy and yet is a pre-emptive defense barrier. 

“I was terrified that tomorrow the truth would start”. Aren’t we all when we are yet to understand the full girth of a life shattering experience? 

An aspect of reading, which puts you in the shoes of the narrator, is pre-requisite when you start on a story of personal loss. In no other way can you understand or appreciate it. Yet, when you do that, you are wont to quickly bring yourself out of it when it becomes too unbearable. Then you realize that you can do it, not the narrator. Day in and day out the events play out in the back of your head, like a parallel world of your own making. A stone, a frayed edge of table, a folded shirt and a scribbled marginalia has powers that we cannot appreciate as an observer alone. 

We try, in our daily lives, to create memories that could stay with us. In our efforts to gather experiences, we rely on these memories to come and help us when we need them. What when these memories turn their roles inside out?


1 Comment

  1. I too was caught in the tsunami. I develop PTSD from the trauma I was exposed to. I was in holiday in Thailand but my family come from Sri Lanka and some were killed. I only found out they were killed when I returned home to London. I have yet to read Wave but I understand the loss. Please check it out the blog I started to help with my recovery and raise awareness for PTSD.

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