Sunday, March 14, 2010

Book: Out of Africa by Karen Blixen.

Her name was also Isak Dinesen, the Danish baroness who lived seventeen years in solitude out of nowhere, in the middle of Africa. This 'nowhere' has a name and it was called Kenya. It recounts her life as an alien peering into the lives of native Africans in a huge coffee plantation farm, trying to adapt to a way of life that was equally alienating to her, understanding how the world of wild revolves and more importantly, navigating herself and her people out of recurring events that would have broken those without a steel-like sense of faith and practical wisdom.

Her story puts modern day feminism to shame. Because it wasn't anything about fighting for gender equality and rising to the same pedestal reigned so selfishly by Man. Yet she did so unknowingly, commanding respect from her men peers and household because she was able to 'hold the fort', straigthening household fights, judging and settling neighbourhood squabbles, dealing with death which crept in suddenly like a thick fog at night and even combating tigers. She is inspirational, strong but at the same time fragile as depicted by her dealing with an unfaithful husband and being drawn to another man. A pinch of reality that she too is mortal before she seems too god-like by her extremely capable, just and independent character, which almost seemed too perfect.

I bought and read this book when I was travelling in Kenya. So, a lot of what she said in the book were actual places which I have been to. And to tell you the truth, in Kenya with the exception of Nairobi, the places which she so vividly recounted in the 1910s, did not change much even a century after. I imagined myself living in the farm, far far away from any familiar civilization (which I did as a day trip to a village), I seriously don't know how long I could hold it out. Yea, times may be different now. But given the emotional circumstances then and now, Karen Blixen must have been an exceptionally strong woman.

God knows I need that kind of strength now. Inspirational.

You can borrow it here at Sparks' Open Library Project.

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