Is it possible to fall in love with someone amidst the gory scenes of death and dead bodies? If the story was not been narrated by someone who has been there in the middle of the chaos it would have been tough to believe. But Love and War in Bosnia by Humayun Kabir is a tale of the pleasure of the matters of the heart amidst the pain of death, narrated by someone who has been there in Bosnia during the civil war.
‘With great reverence, I spread flowers on the skull, brought soil from the surroundings and made a grave for it. It was clear that she had been tortured. I also knew that there would never be a trial for the killing of this girl, but I felt we, as human beings, had done our duty.’
Bosnia is reeling under the effects of the Bosnian War and the large-scale ethnic cleansing of Bosniaks. Beaten and destroyed, the country needs to be brought back to life with care and compassion. Sabyasachi, a disillusioned and exhausted police officer of the West Bengal cadre, lands in Bosnia on deputation duty with the United Nations Peacekeeping Force.
Suzanne, a language assistant working with the UN Mission in Bosnia and a true-blue Bosnian, has experienced the war first-hand and has a past that still haunts her.
The two meet in the gloomy winter landscape of Bosnia and fall in love. Will the ghosts of the war-torn country let their love endure?
Sabyasachi, a mod-ranking police officer was sent to Bosnia on Deputation duty with United Nations Peacekeeping Force. He hails from Calcutta (now Kolkata) where it never snows to somewhere it snows more often than not. From the peaceful environment, he is replanted to the middle of blood mongering warzone. While he tried to accustom himself to the new country, their new life, language, and cuisines he meets Suzanne. Suzanne is his translator in Bosnia. The war-torn country and the snowcapped landscape translated into a romantic destination for them as they come close to each other. But nothing is permanent in Love and war. What if both are juxtaposed? How their romantic voyage endures the gruesome deaths and the diplomatic give and takes is what leads the plot.
For an ordinary Indian like me, the World War brings the names of India and Pakistan to mind. The army holding guns and firing at each other is my visual grammar of war in post-independence India. I was unaware of the fact that not only army by the Indian police force also have things to do in terms of war, but that too in a foreign land. Had the author himself not been someone who went for the deputation, everything in the plot would have come across as an exaggeration.
However, it doesn’t take away the fact that the author’s narration is impeccably believable. The author has managed to teleport the readers to the snow-filled alleys of Sarajevo. The relationship between Sabyasachi and Suzanne, the acquaintance, the friendship, the romance – everything grew over time and naturally. There are no unrealistic proclamations of love or unwarranted love-making sequences. The author has beautifully narrated the relationship between two mature human beings.
Of late, I refrain from taking review copies of the so-called love stories by best-selling authors because all we could see is the forced attraction between the protagonists, and comes out as a namesake erotic romance that underestimated the readers’ capability to fathom matters of heart otherwise.
I am so entangled in the pain and pleasure shared by Sabyasachi and Suzanne that I want to read this book again. I wanted to keep on writing more about the book but I leave it unsaid because “i don’t like spoilers, Pushpa’