Clandestine In Chile

November 3, 2010 at 9:15 PMNov (Cinema, Friends, Literature, Media, Musings, Poetry, Slice Of Life)

Oh, dark captain,
defeated in my country,
may your proud
wings
still soar above
the final wave, the wave of death.

– Pablo Neruda
from ‘Ode to the Voyager Albatross’

Thus opens the book CLANDESTINE IN CHILE. The book penned by Gabriel Garcia Marquez is a first person narrative of filmmaker Miguel Littin.

In 1973 the then dictator of Chile Augusto Pinochet released a list of 5000 odd names of exiles absolutely forbidden to return to Chile. Miguel Littin was one of the 5000 odd people. But, Miguel Littin in 1985, twelve years after he left his country, goes back in disguise, as an Uruguayan, with a false passport and a false partner, to make a documentary film on the dictatorship in Chile. There he manages to interview, with the help of three European film crew, the common men of Chile and also the leader of resistance movement who operates underground. When the state has almost discovered the presence of Miguel Littin and when the net is closing in, Miguel Littin manages to fly out.

The book CLANDESTINE IN CHILE is about the experiences of Miguel Littin during the six weeks of filming ACTA GENERAL DE CHILE.

It was during 2008 monsoon, i guess, that i read a small write by P.Lankesh, in Lankesh Patrike, which said Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s best book happens to be CLANDESTINE IN CHILE. Incidentally i was reading The Story Of A Shipwrecked Sailor by Marquez then and wanted to read CLANDESTINE IN CHILE soon after The Story Of A Shipwrecked Sailor. I asked my senior friend K. Phaniraj if he had a copy of the book CLANDESTINE IN CHILE. He said he had read the book by borrowing it from his friend and that he did not posses a copy. I started searching for the book trough my contacts and also in all the book shops i came across. But nowhere did i find the book. I also asked another senior friend Ashokvardhan of Atree Book Center to order a copy of the book for me, when i shifted to Mangalore. He said that the book was unavailable. When i shifted from Mangalore to Delhi i started searching for the book, unsuccessfully, in the book stores of Delhi. I also asked my lecturer Soumyavratha Chaudhury if he had a copy, who like Phaniraj sir had read the book but did not posses a copy.

During mid-October 2009 my friend Ranjani Krishnakumar, who is currently studying in U.K., told me that she had got a voucher to buy some books and that she wanted to spend one voucher on me and asked me which book i wanted. CLANDESTINE IN CHILE, i announced. She told me that the book will reach me in two weeks. As i had planned to go home in couple of weeks, i asked Ranjani to send the copy to my Manipal address. The book did not reach during my short stay in Manipal. I came back to Delhi informing my father that the book might reach home anytime. But the book did not reach home even when i went home again during my winter vacations.

Sometime in January Ranjani contacted me and asked if i had received the book. When i said that i had not, she said she would purchase another copy and give it by hand when she comes to India during Feb. I asked her to hand over the book to my sister in Bangalore and requested my sister to courier the book to me as soon as she gets it. When my sister got hold of the book, due to ill health i was in Manipal. When she called me to inform that the book was with her, i was overjoyed and asked her to send it in some bus, so that it will reach me the very next day than couriering it to me. She did the same. On 3 March 2010, the book was in my hand.

In my limited reading experience, reading CLANDESTINE IN CHILE has been one of the most exciting and thrilling reading experiences. It is also an account of human struggle for a human environment. It brings out the need to undo the self or loosing oneself in the journey to the heart of truth.

Mioguel Littin said, “This may not have been the most heroic action of my life, but it was the most worthwhile.” Similarly the search and wait for the book was worth it.

12 March 2010

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