One day in the life of Solzhenitsyn

It was one of those yellowing books that I found one day. The absence of its history in my life made it quite an enigma. I delayed reading it…I was into thick books that were heavy to carry around. It added gravitas to a personality I thought warranted it at the time. Candle in the Wind was slim and so flaky was the paper that I was afraid that touching it would make it crumble.

Something crumbled. I did. I was completely taken aback by the layers upon layers of light it shed. As a play, it kept out descriptiveness and remained a constant give and take of verbal nuances. It was the outsider inside. The state against the individual, the individual playing games with minds. The mind travelling with leaps…

Alexander Solzhenitsyn came into my life without a murmur and stayed lodged within me, knocking me out of a complacency I had begun to feel about a few things.

He died yesterday. He was 89. He had always appeared 89 to me. There was something about his face that seemed like it was born old…a bit of Christ, I felt.

He wrote against the Communist regime and atrocities in the Soviet prisons in The Gulag Archipelago for which he was exiled:

"And all of a sudden the fateful gate swings quickly open, and four white male hands, unaccustomed to physical labor but nonetheless strong and tenacious, grab us by the leg, arm, collar, cap, ear, and drag us in like a sack, and the gate behind us, the gate to our past life, is slammed shut. . . ."

But he also faulted the West. I do not like to use the word humanist…he was beyond labels.

I can only thank him for making me see beyond those thick books and, more importantly, realising that the individualism I was being baulked at for was not such a bad thing.

A candle in the wind only makes the flame dance with abandon…

- - -

The title of this post is of course from his novel One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich...there is a passage that talks about how prisoners were cheated of their rations but there was always the question of how much less there was each day...so they took a peek... "to soothe your soul -
today, maybe, they haven't snitched any..."

With the final exit, I still feel he is looking to see how much is left. For nothing quite goes away. Others can cheat you, but we still keep hope alive.

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