Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Anita Rau Badami, Terrorism and Gardens

My friend, Anita Rau Badami, has asked me over for tea and roses this week. A writer of great talent, she published a timely and strong novel a year ago, Can You Hear the Night Bird Call? Last spring as the Canadian government held hearings into the bombing of Air India Flight 182—the biggest civilian loss to terrorism before the World Trade Center attacks--I often thought of Anita’s story. Three women—two Sikhs and one Hindu living in both India and Canada--are at the center of this book. It covers their lives from the time of the partition of India and Pakistan in 1947 through the 1980s. It is both a good read and an excellent way to understand better the complex psychology of terrorism and revenge.

Anita and I are both members of the Writers’ Union of Canada, but we didn’t really meet until a year ago when Quill and Quire asked me to do a profile of her, in preparation for the release of Night Bird. Doing it was a pleasure, as it was to discover that she is an avid gardener, making the most of Montreal’s short but intense summers to grow glorious flowers. This week is a particularly appropriate time to visit her, since Air India 182 blew up 22 years ago this Saturday. Growing beauty sometimes becomes a necessary antidote to the uglier aspects of this world.

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