Goodbye my dearest Shantaram

The truth is that, no matter what kind of game you find yourself, no matter how good or bad the luck, you can change your life completely with a single thought or a single act of love.

I have just finished reading one amazing book: Shantaram. It took me around three months to read its 933 pages and I guess it will take me much more than that to fully appreciate it and digest all its philosophy and teachings.  This is the third post I have written about the book and anyway I know that this will be not enough.

In my previous posts I wrote about the first parts of the book and how I got infatuated by India, its different layers and complexity. I have to admit that I couldn´t put it down, I just wanted to keep on reading not only about this exuberant country, but about how Lin, the main character, interacted and coped with a shocking reality. I loved the way it is written. A narration which goes from a vivid  and detailed description to philosophical questions and reflection. Now I want to devote this post to the most salient themes developed in the book.

Any human heart beat is a world of possibilities. 

Shantaram  is about fate. It depicts how Lin’s fate can change, not once but many times. I guess that that is one of the main reasons why the book is long. It needs to prove that life is complex, and that ” Every life, every love, every action and feeling and thought has its cause and its reason and significance: it’s beginning, and the part it plays in the end. Nothing in any life, no matter how well or poorly lived, is wiser than failure and or clearer than sorrow. And in the tiny, precious wisdom that they give us, even those dread and hated enemies, suffering and failure, have their reason and right to be.” Shantaram is about fate as an evolution of oneself, thus one own’s responsibility. Accidents do happen, but it is up to us how we take them, as pearls or as stones.

It’s a fact of life on the run that you often love more people than you trust. For people in the safe world, of course, exactly the opposite is true. Shantaram is about love. Love is always present in the narration and it is intertwined with the concept of fate. Lin´s destiny is shaped by his feelings and the decisions he makes for love. Shantaram shows us romantic love, filial love, love to friends, to India, to the inner self. Lin is a romantic born man  who surrenders himself to this force that cannot be explained or resisted.

Shantaram is about freedom. Lin arrived in Bombay as a fugitive in search of freedom. Very soon he realised that freedom is not just doing what you want but more related to a spiritual state. It took me a long time and most of the world to learn what I know about love and fate and the choices we make, but the heart of it came to me in an instant, while I was chained to a wall and being tortured. I realised, somehow, through the screaming in my mind, that even in that shackled, bloody helplessness, I was still free: free to hate the men who were torturing me, or to forgive them.

Lin is an amazing complex character. A man who challenged life and death many times. A romantic,compassionate, loving, caring man but also a heroin addict,tough, violent,and revengeful fugitive. I felt related to Lin in the way he took his life in Bombay as a new opportunity and a rebirth. I also share his view of human beings and our choice to be good and to forgive. That makes us unique!

What characterises the human race more, Karla once asked me, cruelty, or the capacity to feel shame for it? I thought the question acutely clever then, when I first heard it, but I’m lonelier and wiser now, and I know it isn’t cruelty or shame that characterises the human race. It’s forgiveness that makes us what we are. Without forgiveness, our species would’ve annihilated itself in endless retributions.

I was given Shantaram by a friend as part of my education. He was right, Shantaram has opened my eyes and inspired me to keep on going. I have read it in a very special moment of my life as well, in the process of change, in transit.It was definitely a good read! Thanks!

Goodbye my dearest Shantaram!


About Malba Barahona

Educational researcher, language educator. PhD from Australian National University. Passionate bushwalker and mountain lover. I procrastinate reading fiction, hiking, doing yoga, riding, having a beer and more recently decolonizing my existence. I write in English and Spanish in different blogs especially with the purpose of encouraging my students to write.
This entry was posted in Australian, Aventuras, India, Reading, Shantaram and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Goodbye my dearest Shantaram

  1. Pingback: My passage to India | En la rayuela, o en la vida vos podes elegir un día.

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