The Light of the World - A Memoir: Review
I read the finishing chapters of part five of the memoir while listening to ‘The Plum Blossom’. I admire the perfection with which Elizabeth describes the music in her words remarking each instrument and sound. It is the last piece of music Ficre listened to before he died. I think it was apt to listen to it as his story in the book came to an end. This book, however, is not about death. It is a poetic celebration of Ficre’s life in the words of his widow. Elizabeth moves from page to page creating a complex stream of network of Ficre’s identity. Each of its interconnected channels in the form of his childhood, his passion, his relationships reveal in all honesty the zest Ficre had for life. In telling her love story, Elizabeth fills our senses with aromas of their traditional and favourite recipes. She colours our minds with Ficre’s paintings and the flowers he grew in their garden. She connects us with his history and introduces us to a vibrant culture. She warms our heart with the stories of Ficre’s generous, fun and earnest relationships with her, their children, their parents and friends.
In The Light of the World, Elizabeth establishes an ecumenical thought process of loss and recollection through conversations and dreams. In the course of her writing, she reclaims ‘widowhood’ and describes it not as deprivation but a jubilation of growing with a person who brought into her life new knowledge, food and people. A man who would rather buy a bigger house than lesser books. This journal of memories makes us reflect on the transient nature of life. She never got to say ‘goodbye’ to Ficre when he was alive. But do ‘goodbyes’ work for the ones we love? They quit their bodies in death but their presence and their essence lingers in our thoughts. They are forever coming back to us in our imaginations, discussions and actions, like Ficre, who will always be a part of Elizabeth. As for me, I have formed a bond with Ficre and Elizabeth like I have with no other author. Ficre is alive for me in the pages of this book not just as an acquaintance but as a guide to live a fulfilled life. This is the reason I address them with their first names. Every reader who reads this book that is an account of Ficre’s existence will carry a piece of him in their hearts. No “cigarette smoking, felt hat wearing, sinuous and sleek death” can ever take this away.