Friday, March 15, 2013

Interpreter by Author Shah Fazli

In the author’s words:

“The Taliban sent their men behind our camps to harass us. I heard many interpreters from different camps complaining about someone chasing them. The Taliban had succeeded in beheading two of the interpreters in our camp. They sent their men to find out where we went and where we lived, knowing that was the only other way to capture and eliminate us, apart from ambushing us on one of our patrols or village visits. Sooner or later the interpreters would visit their families because they missed them so much. The Taliban had managed to kill many interpreters and their fathers and brothers. We and our families were considered the Taliban’s number one enemies. We were entitled to be killed out of hand. The Taliban’s men had shot one of the interpreters when he was with his friends having a party in a village. They killed the father of another interpreter who worked in the Marjeh camp. Although the police and army had been informed by the American officers about the men who chased us, they were still alive and free.”

As a reader I was alerted to this book through a Facebook event, Authors to Know, Live Event. I observed in the chat the author speak of his experiences as an Interpreter. Life continues on as in the foreign lands, like the Middle East many soldiers and the military fight against the terrorists and to protect the civilians of the marked territories by rebels, and militants. The Interpreter is a valuable go between for the foreign civilians’ farmers’ and villagers’ and the American’s and International military as a communicator. He is the communicator and translator with the residents of the many small villages targeted by the terrorists and the Taliban.
In this book, the author is describing his characters, the main and his connection to the ones around him, and his journey as an interpreter. It is haunting, for one never knows what happens away from the safe boundaries of America.  The interpreter has to be fluent in various languages and dialect. He also describes the dangerous events he and the military personnel to the veterans, and others faced when they are sent out on assignments to hunt the Taliban and fight in dirty and unsafe environments to make the Taliban retreat from the villages they take hostage. Shabir, the interpreter as the soldiers live in fear of being executed, blown up or shot by, worse a victim of suicide bombers from the enemies at any moment.

The main character is loyal and committed to his responsibilities, and protected of his adopted field family. He crawled inside jeeps waiting to be called in to defuse a situation or investigated how to assist the attack locations.  The Taliban are cruel fighters, executing, beheading and bombing homes, and leaving carnage behind. The Military comes to defend, fight and rebuild what the rebels and terrorists destroy. The interpreter is the translator to complete the agenda, mission and objectives to protect or bring peace to a terrorized location. This author has opened the portal to behind the scenes of what it is like to be on the front and faced the unknown every-day, not certain they will arise to see the sun rise the next morning.

As there is a dark side to the inside view of what happens in the foreign lands as the Middle East, there is a light side as the character has his faith and an angel that comes to reassured him to hold on, as he is there out for revenge yet he is transforming to release his anger and he misses his family. He goes through many conflicts, a lot of suspense as he is marked by the head leader and there is an ongoing feud as the dictator has ordered execution of many close friends and loved ones. He has to stay one step ahead until the final confrontation, and his worst nightmare occurs.  The author explores through eyes of anguish, sorrow and hope as his character struggles to live into the next day and finally go home to his large family, he deeply misses.

This was my favorite paragraph in the author’s words; “I woke up in my room, my head full of images of the angel. I no longer saw her but it felt like she was with me every minute. My heart was filled with her and my mind was her home. Her face warmed my body, her words calmed my heart, her hands healed my pain and her thoughts put a smile on my face. I didn't want the girl to leave my head but, looking out of the window, I saw the soldiers coming out of their tents, and I went and queued behind them in the kitchen and listened to them talking.”

As a reader of this insightful book, I discovered the Interpreter’s’ role is not a glamour position, yet it is essential for the military, the fathers, mothers, sons, daughters of all the masses from the military to the civilians. They need the hired heroes to continue the cycle of communication, the role life and protect the brave people in the midst of the assault from the Taliban and rebels. This author has taken darkness, emotional release and turned it in to a poetic and insightful read. This story has a personal touch and a humanistic side of an interpreter, and his destiny.  Highly recommend this to all readers, who want to understand an international interpreter and his experiences on the front lines as the author describes the harrow experience with a compassionate tone and wants readers to appreciate the sacrifice all involved and dedicated their lives to achieve peace in war-torn lands, nations and countries.  

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