Nilanjana Roy’s review of Wave – the story of death, survival and grief – propels me to the bookstore. Nobody needs to know the depth of emotional horror Sonali Deraniyagala has experienced, yet through her journey we can understand a little more of the human condition. The power of books.

nilanjana s roy


Midway through the first written story known to the world, The Epic of Gilgamesh, there occurs a passage of terrible grief. Gilgamesh, the hero, loses his closest friend and fellow warrior, Enkidu.

There is nothing they can do, despite the many battles they have fought, to stave off death. Enkidu, forewarned, rushes into anger, and from there into lamentation. He reproaches his friend for not being able to save him—“you did not rescue me, you were afraid and did not”; from his deathbed, he calls to the friend who has abandoned him simply by not being able to follow him into the land of death.

Gilgamesh’s grief and mourning is indeed epic; the first recorded story in human history dwells on his growing realisation of the gap death leaves in his life. He roams the wilderness, and finally, he goes to the Netherworld, to ask about Death and Life. This…

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11 thoughts on “

  1. Nilanjana’s brilliant review was gut wrenching enough. I don’t have the courage to read that book Meredith. Our kids were in Colombo just two weeks prior.

    • Aiyo, that’s too close for comfort, Madhu!

      I know what you mean about having the courage to read it – I just feel I must. The island, the people were seared by those waves, never to be the same again, so in a way, it’s a sort of kindred spirit thing perhaps. Also because I met and talked with some survivors who were struggling with being the ones still alive.

      But the thing is, how much I – a person with nobody left to loose – can learn, understand, through someone else’s experience.

      I’m thinking a chapter at a time might be manageable.

      • I understand how you feel. Will probably get to it myself, eventually. Too many people we know had narrow escapes even here in Chennai! R’s partner and family were spending that weekend at the beach in Pondicherry and left the night before. Our friends beach house wall collapsed and the waves nearly crashed into their living room without much damage. Makes you wonder why some people got lucky. I pray it never happens again.

        • At least if a wave comes in this direction again there will be some warning. We had a couple of false alarms in the early years that people wouldn’t believe were false alarms, but every time there’s an earthquake in a strategic location, people are immediately on alert for the tsunami warning. With a bit of luck there won’t be so much loss of life.

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