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‘The Innocent Man’ by John Grisham

May 3, 2009

ve read all of Grisham’s books and this one is outstanding. Easily Grisham is my most favoured author: for the simple reason that his sense of social justice appeals to me.

In all Grisham’s works, i find sympathy for marginalised people, forgotten people etc. Which is why i luv him so much.

I can’t help feeling sorry or overwhelming pity for people who have been denied justice, people who are forced to live as dependents.

I donno why but i do identify myself with such neglected folks. May be i need counselling or whatever – but believe me, even now i sometimes get into bouts of depressions – even if they last just for a day or two – mainly becoz of my past.

‘The Innocent Man’ is one such real-life story.

It shows how even in a middle-class god fearing all-american White family things can go haywire – if they have to. My heart goes out to poor Ron Williamson who became a victim of circumstances over which he had no control at all. Truth is, this is universal. U can easily take out this true story and plant it in any indian city. Yes, i am sure it happens here too, much the same way. And if justice can so easily be circumvented and denied in an America, just imagine what can happen to helpless folks in poor India, given the same set of circumstances?

With luck some people are able to break that jinx and make it finally to success – but some like Williamson really never. I cried more than once when i was reading the book. Altho’ his story is in no way connected to my life, i had ‘deja vu’ when he asked himself towards the end of his life, ‘why was i even born? what is the reason for my creation?’

Well i’ve asked the same question myself too and ofcourse that was long, long back. I am glad, destiny landed me in safe harbor after the storm in my own life. I asked this question to myself in my teenage one day sitting in hot sun in a lone stretch of the beach – far away from the harried city crowds. A policeman on beat touched my shoulder and shook me up to reality. ‘Whatever brought a young girl like u here alone at this time? Don’t ever come here like this, for this is a dangerous place to be alone for girls like u.’ he said. He could have been my father – looked the same age.

Frankly towards the end of the book, this my own little search for enlightenment all those years back, flashed before my eyes.

In the book, Williamson goes to prison for a crime he never commits. Even after he is exonerated by the courts, the town still doubts his innocence which is the greatest tragedy. The way he is slowly, slowly destroyed by the very society that made him/raised him is horrific.

I believe more people in the US are in death rows for crimes they did not commit as Grisham says.

http://www.wardandfontenot.com

This is the website listed in the book that is for Tommy Ward and Karl Fonteoot, both accused of a crime, again which they did not commit.

Well, i thought injustices existed only in India – oh my God, i don’t believe it is the same everywhere.

Never prayed for americans in my life – but i will for Ward and Fontenot from hereon.

I guess Ron’s elder sister Annette deserves a special mention. I know how eldest daughters of any family feel more compulsion/responsibility towards other family members. Many times, this is not even appreciated. So far as i’ve seen in my life, eldest daughters are like pillars of rock for most families. Even now i am seeing many such living examples around me in my place. Without Annette, Ron could have fared much worse, could have ended up with a lethal injection after all. Only blood siblings can ever share such a special bonding amongst themselves. This i realise always, and too late for me now to regret leaving an only son out in this world to fend for himself. Only children are now the curse of this country – but that is a small consolation.

Annette makes me regret our decision to go for a single child – shows me why one should always have a sibling in life.

Finally, it is a long time since i’ve read such good, meaningful books. Although i read a lot, few match up to Grisham’ set standard. By this i mean, not the style of prose or anything. Grisham is hardly glamorous in any of his creations. His heroes are mostly failures, alcoholics, as such. But that is precisely why i like him. Well, there are a lot of interesting, fascinating subjects to choose from. Why should a successful author go for such boring, simple and straight scrips, ever wonder? I am glad there are those like him around – without whose presence this world will be a ruthless jungle wherein man would eat man.

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