Book #37 Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts

This is the last time that I pick up a thousand page book to read without thinking of the consequences. Three fourths of the way through I started to feel as if I were in a bad relationship that I just couldn’t end. We had already been through so much I just couldn’t quit! And the endearing memories of our first days together. How I trembled when I read the lines of:

“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 realized, 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. It doesn’t sound like much, I know. But in the flinch and bite of the chain, when it’s all you got, that freedom is a universe of possibility. And the choice you make, between hating and forgiving, can become the story of your life.”

I didn’t even have the intention of reading the book when I picked it up. I was merely just flipping through, but it grabbed me and wouldn’t let me go. Even with that shakiness that I felt when the pacing change near the end, I still think this book is incredible. Really, it is. It went from a hilarious charming view of Indian culture from the view of an outsider who was slowly being made a part of it to a war in Afghanistan against the Russians which threw me for a loop. But it was an informative thrilling loop that caused the story to run a gamut of plot points that many people don’t see in their own lives throughout their lifetime. Or at lease, ones that this particular person hopes she doesn’t have to see in her lifetime. Case in point:

“In my case, it’s a long story, and a crowded one. I was a revolutionary who lost his ideals in heroin, a philosspher who lost his integrity in crime, and a poet who lost his soul in a maximum-security prison. When I escaped from that prison, over the front wall, between two gun-towers, I became my country’s most wanted man. Luck ran with me and flew with me across the world to India, where I joined the Bombay mafia. I worked as a gunrunner, a smuggler, and a counterfeiter. I was chained on three continents, beaten, stabbed, and starved. I went to war. I ran into enemy guns. And I survived, while other men around me died. They were better men than I am, most of them: better men whose lives were crunched up in mistakes, and thrown away by the wrong second of someone else’s hate, or love, or indifference. And I buried them, too many of those men, and grieved their stories and their lives into my own.”

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