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The Doodler of Dimashq: A Heart Wrenching Tale of Hope From Syria's Rubble Paperback – Sep 2017
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"Kirthi Jayakumar reminds us why the mind-numbing stories that dominate our newsfeeds need to be contextualised by having a person at the centre of it."- R.K. Radhakrishnan, Associate Editor, Frontline.
"A powerful and important story for our time, Kirthi Jayakumar writes with deep compassion for people in trauma. The human face of the tragedy of Syria that needs to be told."- Margaret Hepworth, author of the Gandhi Experiment - Teaching our teenagers how to become global citizens.
About the Author
Kirthi Jayakumar is an activist, artist and writer from Chennai, India. She founded and runs the Red Elephant Foundation, a civilian peacebuilding initiative that works for gender equality through storytelling, advocacy and digital interventions. She is a member of the Youth Working Group for Gender Equality under the UNIANYD. Kirthi is the recipient of the US Presidential Services Medal (2012) for her services as a volunteer to Delta Women NGO and the two-time recipient of the UN Online Volunteer of the Year Award (2012, 2013). "Stories of Hope" is Kirthi’s first solo book, comprising a collection of short stories. She also co-authored a book titled Love Me Mama: The Unfavoured Child, along with Elsie Ijorogu-Reed, the founder of Delta Women NGO. Her second book, The Dove's Lament, published by Readomania, made it to the final shortlist for the Muse India Young Writers' Literary Award. In addition, Kirthi has published a series of eBooks centered around Peace and Conflict. Kirthi was recently invited to the United State of Women Summit at the White House in Washington DC, as a nominated change maker. She is also a Zen Doodler and her works have been commissioned by corporate establishments, non-profits and art collectors world over. She runs an Instagram based project called "Femcyclopaedia" where she doodles portraits of inspiring women through the ages and from across the world and curates their stories under these portraits. The story of Femcyclopaedia won a Story Award from World Pulse in February 2017. Kirthi lives in Chennai.
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That guy who shot that missile didn’t know that he was fuelling Ameenah's faith in humanity. That guy who bombed her homes didn’t know that she would make art out of debris. None of them knew that their weapons were too weak to quell Ameenah's indomitable spirit.
Kirthi Jayakumar introduced me to one of the most profound characters I have ever met -- Ameenah's grandmother. By telling Ameenah that she must never quit doodling, she made me realise that I must never stop listening to what speaks to my soul. The evil around us might not become exhausted. It would wail and wail and wail. But Ameenah's grandmother made me understand that I must use my precious life to nourish my soul, instead of trying to ward off the evil.
Ameenah's story is so powerful and heartrending that it would make so many of us realise that we don’t dive into art to escape from our lives, but find our very lives there. Every doodle that Ameenah made on broken concrete slabs is a eulogy. Every scratch was a goodbye to the deceased. Every stroke was a bold statement. Every pattern was a quiet warning; wars may go on, but peace will be created in surprising ways.
Ameenah is my Anne Frank, my Liesel Meminger. In her art lies my hope and future. Between black and white, she has taught me to see a spectrum of colours. Between life and death, she has taught me to live.
Her way of saving her sanity, bringing a semblance of normalcy to the kids is doodling or drawing. She with the help of her friend, Qudsia who gives her shelter after she loses her husband and his family as well get papers and colours for the little children they shelter. Ameenah’s way of facing the war and the daily deaths around her is through art. She takes a tile, a piece of wall and with the ashes of the city makes doodles in remembrance of those who died.
Kirthi is no stranger to the pain and devastation that war and terrorism bring in its wake. I was bowled over by her debut book, The Dove’s Lament and in this book, #TheDoodlerOfDimashq she delves deeper into the pain, unfairness and pathos of war and insurgency.
I felt the subtle traces of love between Fathi and the poem he narrates was so beautiful. Captured so lovingly, gently in spite of a marriage out of the necessity of war. The poem by Nizar Qabbani is so soulful and apt I fell in love with his verse and am glad I found a new port to read.
Another aspect of the book that I loved was the tiny square tiles of doodles she had before any chapter. A tiny explanation and the easy doodle, I felt as if it is a simple initiation into doodling. If I do a single pattern each day I would learn it so easily, a creative pursuit that relaxes and rejuvenates.
The girl, Ameenah saves many kids as possible, tries her best to keep them safe but when it all seems futile a ray of hope Rami and along with Maryam offer a glimpse of a better future. She takes a chance but war does not see, it only ravages and obliterates. Such is the bittersweet story of The Doodler of Dimashq. Kirthi pens this book from her heart and it takes the reader along. Immersing them into the world where hope survives even if nothing else does. The Doodler of Dimashq leaves a mark—on this world, in the story and in our lives.
This book is a stark reminder that all is not well with our world, the innocents, and the helpless need our support, our voice. #TheDoodlerOfDimashq speaks up for all of them, in Syria, in Nigeria, in Mexico, just about everywhere. Lynching’s, mobs, terrorists, mafia, an evil that invades our lives and must be talked about, must be stopped.
The Doodler of Dimashq is an emotional, thought-provoking, fast-paced, well-written story of Ameenah and her journey to peace. She finds it but not as she expected it to be.
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