Young Mari is leading an army of four in a secret war ……….
She is too young to conceptualize what war actually means-but she has already seen enough of it-in roadside trenches, in flying mortars, in whistling bullets, in scream of dying men, in smell of burning flesh………..
She is too young to realize her nation is now sitting on a heap of gunpowder-any moment which can blast-perhaps waiting for the matchstick…….
All she knew that she and her friends are women of Spain-and the glory of the land rests on their little shoulders. Mari-has to read a coded message which will help them in the war.
What war? Against whom they are fighting it?
They have perhaps the same amount of knowledge-as their elders, who are engaged on a bloody war with their brothers-the whole country is now a burning house of civil war.
Little they have the knowledge what fate lies ahead of Mari and her friends-two twin sister and little Manolito- who is embraced to be a little boy, not a woman of Spain. Little they have the knowledge that after some moments explosion of a shell will steal all the smile from the face of little Mari.
Breaking the Silence by Maria J. Nieto is a touching story of the Spain’s civil war, the fall of the leftist second republic of Spain and the rise of the tyrannical rule of General Franco-brother of evil of Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler! It is a touching chronicle of the fight back of an entire nation against the all prevailing dictatorship. For those who are not familiar with the Spanish civil war background-it was a coup organized by the army to overthrow the democratically elected leftist socialist second Spanish republic from power ,which came into power after the last ruler-king Alfonso XIIII had fled the country. It was a turbulent time ahead for the country-as slow reforms would soon overthrow the elected government and then new power would come into play. The stormy days were absolutely snake and ladder game –and the self proclaimed nationalists were to end the stint of democracy with a series of coups. It was simple unleashing of terror with Franco and his men-words like white terror and red terror became household names which was sufficient to beat any horror story in terms of content-so much so that the children from the country has to be evacuated to other western countries and the U.S.A in a bid to save the future generation.
This story is a tribute to those who have been dead, who have been forgotten!
The story has raised its curtain with a scene of old Madrid-a day with the sun shining with all its might –presenting a very reliable country exhausted with a long history of internal strife yet bustling with life. And on the day of description-the city suddenly seemed lifeless-as if by means of some magic the time has stopped –or a demon from fairy tales has absorbed the life of every citizen. Demon after all it was-but not from the fairy tale –but from pages of reality!
But the city is certainly not lifeless-not absolutely. It was the silence before a storm-everything suddenly becomes quiet. Citizens are listening to the radio –about the footsteps of the incoming terror. The weak government has reduced to a lame duck status- not taking any strict action against the aggressors. Or perhaps it is not in a position to do so. And the life and dignity of the citizens are threatened. In this despairing backdrop-Breaking the Silence is a story of hope and despair of a girl-her tear and smile, her pain and enjoyment, her love and hate.
Mari wants to know what is going on around her-but she found only her grandfather who can be of little help to her. Grandfather has a leftist ideology-and his lengthy description of background initiating from as early as the first dawn of civilization when there was primitive civilization continuing to concept of property being developed then coming to kingdom, monarchy, church, religion and finally dating back to contemporary times sometimes seems so b-o-o-r-r-i-n-g that sometimes she felt a little bit sleepy. Sometimes little Mari’s conception made him laugh-like her view of Christ-
‘He was a Jew who got mad at the rabbis. They are like priests, except they have bigger noses. That’s how you can tell them apart from the priests. Anyway, the rabbis were selling lottery tickets in the Jewish temple. And Christ got really mad and asked the pope to make him a catholic.’
But the world around little Mari is no longer full of laughter-even for a small brain she does have she was able to feel the transition. It is literally barricade on the roads-of common citizens-citizens who never ever thought in their lives that they have to take guns in their hands-because weapons from Germany and Italy are storming through the roads, foreign soldiers from the colony of Spain are fighting a battle of tooth and eye. Mercenary versus patriotism-a new chapter had been scripted in this epic story.
Away from the uncertainty of the civil war-away from the scream of the dead-away from the march of Franco and his men-little Mari’s father decided to take her away to the safe haven of the village-under the blue sky-over the green grass. It was a memorable moment created in words-when father bade farewell to her daughter. I called it memorable because the swing of the heart of the little girl has been described brilliantly
‘Mari listened to her father and slowly recoiled into herself, her recent trust in him rapidly slipping away. He was leaving! Of course he was leaving. He was always leaving. She was used to being abandoned. It hardly mattered anymore. She starred at the ceiling as her father stepped down the ladder;’ grown ups are but transient, migratory birds that should be trusted.’ someone has once said to her. She did not know exactly what that saying meant, but she closed her eyes and envisioned her father flying back to Madrid over the hills, across the sierra, far, far away from her.’
A mere sand grain at the desert of happenings-what future behold to the little Mari? At some point the little girl does not confine herself being in the cage of her childhood-but she turns out to be a symbol of resistance of the New Spain.
A country that will never surrender to the tyrannical ruler!
Young Mari is leading an army of four in a secret war ……….