LOVE HAS TWO MOONS
by Franklin Mohan
REVIEW BY ROMA SINANAN
Roma Sinanan is a retired school principal with over 50 years teaching experience. She is the author of a series of English Language texts and Readers for primary schools throughout the Caribbean region. Sinanan is also a published poet- The Road’s End. Her distinctive appreciation of the arts has engaged her in literary works spanning all eras, religions, cultures and social issues. She holds the view that writing edifies man’s innate desire to be heard– thus echoing the sentiments of the metonymic adage penned by English author Edward Bulwer-Lytton “The pen is mightier than the sword”.
Franklyn Mohan, author of The Peripatetic Skylark, has launched his second book- Love Has Two Moons and Other Stories.
The setting of the book is in Princes Town, Trinidad, the author’s childhood home. He is now a retired physician, former retired teacher, photographer, golfer, woodworker, traveller and writer, residing in Ontario, Canada.
The strong presence of an East Indian and Chinese community in Princes Town after indentureship, forms the basis of the novel- hence the names, Ramsey Ramdin and Jing Lee, the main characters, representing the two dominant races.
The narrative is based on a love story between two teenagers, racially and socially opposed- a not unfamiliar feature during this period of history. The outcome of the relationship results in fierce opposition by the Chinese community, and in particular, the parents of Jing Lee.
The story relates a string of events and incidents that leave the victims battered and broken from a first love, stolen and denied.
The many aspects of the story- Youth and Truth, Rejection, Selfishness, Misplaced Values, Exploitation, Pain and Hurt, Lust and Carnality are eventually relieved by the more endearing qualities of forgiveness and reconciliation.
Viewing the book from various perspectives, one can acknowledge the author as a consummate story teller who spares no effort to keep the reader engaged in a variety of opposing circumstances and scenarios.
The continuous flow of activities evokes both physical and emotional responses with unexpected outcomes, keeping the reader alert, focussed, informed and in an anticipatory mood- to grasp new situations that unfold.
The author’s multidisciplinary experiences together with his racial and cultural adventures contribute significantly to the structure, content and themes that the work represents.
The author’s writing skills honed from his strong literary heritage is reflected in the figurative language that flavours the work and endears the reader. The style befits a range of readers- conversational, simple and stunning; “a sexy voice as sweet as honey”, “Love spawned honeyed words”, “wielding a weapon with homicidal intent”,- ordinary yet sophisticated; “the mood ignites libidinous fire”, “the timbre of my voice”, “a kiss imbued the euphoria that desire spawns”. It is also original but universal.
His use of allusions- quotes from distinguished books and authors- Mahatma Ghandi, William Shakespeare, medical terms- “situational depression”, “acute myeloid leukemia”, “epiphany”.
Ram’s revelry in his reminiscences of poetry and song are evident in his references using quotes and lyrics, reviving an era in Trinidad’s history where children were exposed to the best of English, Irish and Scottish music and poetry.
“Bonnie Banks of Lochlomon”
“Even the darkest night will end and the sun will arise” (Les Miserables)
The author’s repertoire of vocabulary derived from his extensive readings, varied experiences and his professional and social interaction with persons bearing different philosophies and values, is woven in his writing.
Th element of relief when the main characters part, with the attendant positive outcomes, provides a moment of silent reflection. The reader, in suspense, asks - What next?
Ram’s and Jing’s eventual meeting on the phone, with Ram’s outburst, “Oh my God, Is it- Is it you?”gives the reader an unexpected jolt. Ram, now “disoriented with glee” only recalling his love- “for her blight spirit”……….. “the original love returning with the force of a flash flood in the desert”, is designed to tell of the aridity of Ram’s life, awaiting to be drenched by the overpowering of Jing’s love for him. These quotes uplift the human spirit in a language with feelings pristine-pure.
The personal interaction between father and son (a strategy the author may have used) through conversation, creates an intangible bond which helps the narrator, Ram, to set free the closeted intimacy he shared with his lover, Jing. The son’s patient indulgence helps to relieve the burden his father carries and creates the vent for its long-desired freedom.
Will Ram accept love denied a second time? Will he attribute it to a cruel fate or karmic influence? Will the haunting lines of Ram’s goodbye to Jing-
“Me and my true love will never meet again/ On the bonnie bonnie banks of Loch Lomand”
conclude his life story? Or will he, like the Greek legendary hero, Ulysses, on speaking to his son, Telemachus, declare:
“Old age has yet his honour and his toil Death closes all; but something ere the end Some work of noble worth may yet be done Not unbecoming men that stroll with Gods. ’T is not too late to seek a newer world.”
The stories raise serious issues like corporal punishment which the writer tells from a personal point of view, describing its physical and emotional consequences. It details the order and design of punishment for children with its brutal consequences.
Another tells of the scourge of being black (pigmentocracy). It captures the issue of racism and its debilitating consequences. References to -Black Lives Matter- make it topical. The Visit- shows how racial divide can be conciliatory.
I highly recommend this book for readers both young and old. This literary piece can also serve as a text for study in the secondary level classroom.
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