Side Piece…Jamilia

kazakhThe Side Pieces keep rolling in. Task Force # 17 out of Nutmeg Iluminado Lodge # 9 completed Jamilia by Chingiz Aitmatov. Our order always felt it was unfortunate that this author’s first name came to attention of the writers of Bevis and Butthead, but life is not fair…just Google the actress Gene Tierney and the Hollywood Canteen and you’ll be glad you are just non-descript flotsam. Incidentally, while Gene attended the Unquowa School in Fairfield the Iluminado monitored her closely for breeding purposes.

As the story was tipped as one concerning unrequited love, a Jesuit-educated Brother stepped up to lead the Task Force. As his specialty was the oral history of the Soninke peoples, this was thought odd. Privately he was asked about his commitment, and described a high school incident that nettled through the years and hinged on unrequited love.

In the middle of his sophomore term, he was identified as a promising student who needed to be bumped from the lowest Language Arts class (he was born in Brooklyn and commuted to this Manhattan institution, therefore thought to be gruff) to the highest. Prior to his first advanced class, he bumped into a friend who was in the top class from the onset. He asked what can I expect from, call him Father Taylor since that was his name, Father Taylor’s class?

Well Chummy, you can expect a lot of time describing unrequited love six ways from Sunday.

I see. Thanks Pal and I look forward to discussing our interpretations on the matter.

What does unrequited mean? Oh well, I’ll look it up later. Class #1 pop quiz on a book our nascent literary high flier didn’t even possess. “Why was I too proud to ask my friend what unrequited meant! I could have wung it if I had at least that much!!!” Immediately jettisoned from the high flyers, it was back to reading The Pigman and Ethan Fromme.

Now Jamilia. She is That Girl. Among 100-girls her spunk, her effortless joy and her lithe, non-buxom, athletically structured body catch the admiration of all the young men. Her personality is Elizabeth Bennett. Sharp and playful. Hubby is away, not so much “to make benefit glorious nation of Kazakhstan,” but fighting for Joseph against Adolf. That leaves little bro, a convalescing soldier and Jamilia to work a grain wagon for Mother Russia. The unrequited love could come from anywhere, except maybe from J to little bro. It dances around a bit, settles and does a reversal, but in the end seems requited, but is it? Your impression will be that it is somewhere else. It might be Daniyar’s love of the Kazakh Steppe that is unrequited. He sings to the high heavens of the land’s beauty, yet the strict cultures of those lands afford an old orphan like him no chance for peace.

Because it is less than 100-pages, the book is prime material for a tweener prior to a scheduled book club meeting. Be advised, this isn’t hard core unrequited love. That kind of story could be painful or fun…like the movie Just One of the Guys. This one is lovely writing, but a bit fem. Your wife’s book club could use it as a tweener, but there is some geography and nationalism here that would confuse them. “Where are they? In Canada or someplace like that?” Not a Buy or a Sell…Hold.


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