“You want us to form a friendship built on disregarding the past, on ignorance and forgetting. Like all rulers, you want to burn your secrets so nobody can look at them after you die… We are not on the same path.”
How fittingly this line can be addressed to our current leader, and how I’d love to take some of Bachtyar Ali’s allegories to take a jab at the state of our politics!
But I doubt if railing against authorities was the main intent of this novel. Bachtyar Ali, injured in 1983 during a protest against Saddam Hussein’s Ba’ath Party and author of the first Kurdish novel to be translated in English, surely knows about unjust leaders and speaking out against them.
This story of a peshmerga fighter who is released after being detained in a desert prison for twenty one years and goes on a quest to find the son he left behind is told with the magical realism of A Thousand and One Nights, but with a more discernible moral aim, which also weaves in its tale the sufferings and the violent history of the Iraqi Kurds.
The Last Pomegranate Tree, with its moments of breathtaking lyricism, seems to me more of a profound contemplation on freedom, on what it means to be really free, and on what it is we should seek and hold on to when all seems lost.
“Only one thing has been left to us, the one thing they can’t reach: our hearts, our inner worlds.”