Genre – Literary Fiction
A year back Elif Shafak who is magnetic author and profound narrator was back with another skilful piece of craft! She surely knows how to cater needs of change and advancement of subject. ‘Ten minutes thirty eight seconds in this strange world’ is unique name and it has interesting story behind it that it takes this span of time after physical death between realm of life and the realm of afterlife reaching abode of almighty. It is a tale of a prostitute. No it does not comprise the sex,but it tries to put a light on the facts that no girl is born a prostitute. What situation really can push you in the harsh world of becoming sex worker!
The story of Humeyrah’s life begins with her death in garbage dumpster in outskirts of Istanbul! Her heart stops functioning and it takes 10minutes&38seconds for her to gather all memories reminiscing with smells,tastes and feelings. Narration is divided in parts – heart,body,mind and soul! Born to a mother who in fear of having a girl child gives her to a sister,At tender age of six her own uncle physically molests her regularly and tells her to keep mum,she becomes pregnant at conceivable age by him, she’s looked down by family,is blamed and not listened or believed by her truth ,such all factors gradually push her into current situation. But she is not alone here. She finds a treasure getting acquainted to five more of them, coming from similar circumstances! They change their identities and live life with adopted names. Tequila Laila, Nostalgia Nalan, Hollywood Humeyrah, Zaynab 122, Zameelah and Sabotage Sinan together form a ‘water family’ which has intersting stories behind this nomenclature! They become confidant and safety net for each other sharing almost everything. Ignored by families and rejected by society brought together by hopes to feel being themselves and cared by each other. This is a true depiction of struggles and lives from red light area. For Leila life advances showing her ray of hope! The one who truly loves her for being herself comes in her life to swift away in so called society to live normal life! But did she succeed in it or how long if assertive?
The life for us is so easy, nature is so beautiful and living is simple,yet there are some people who live in society literally struggling a lot to live basic life!
Society today needs to become more aware showing empathy and compassion. It’s our moral responsibility to respect everyone,not passing comments,not assuming one’s image and not assassinating anybody’s character.
As they say don’t judge a book by it’s cover, same way don’t judge anyone without knowing their stories.
Despite life tasting Leila on every event of life crushing her down, she does get affected and broken several times,yet retains courage and strength to face it and move on. No wonder Elif’s book gave tight competition in Booker prize last year. Hats off to her confident writing, brutal honesty and perfect visual representation and beautifully rendered story!!!