The Empty Space is not one of those books that can be read in one sitting. Even if you want to, you would not be able to – the plot will not allow you to. I had a tough time getting through this book and the writing had nothing to do with it. It was the story.
The Empty Space by Geetanjali Shree hits you hard and in the right places. It tells the story of a bomb exploding in a university café, claiming the lives of nineteen students. The mother of one of those victims comes home with her dead eighteen year-old son packed in a box and the sole survivor of the blast, a three-year old, who was found in an empty space, living and breathing. The story chronicles three lives – the mother, the boy lost, and the boy who was found. Memories that have to be created and memories that can only remain that for time to come.
What I found most taking in about the story was the relationship portrayed between the mother and the three-year old. Both have so much to say and yet they cannot tell each other anything. There were also times when I thought the language wasn’t perfect in certain places; however I am going to let that go because it was a translation and I am sure that would not be the same in the original.
The Empty Space reminded me a lot of Mother of 1084 by Mahasweta Devi, and that is solely due to the nature of the plot. You begin to start wondering about what the families go through when children die due to such banal acts of terror. Is there anything sacred left then in this world? Is there any sanity at all? This book is one of such attempts to bring to forth the consequences of what happens after an attack. Vividly written, The Empty Space unearths questions and emotions that may be needed in times such as ours.