The Enemy : A Desmond Bagley’s Novel Review

So, for my (literally) last English reading assignment in my 12 years of school, I got this Oxford book entitled “The Enemy”. It was originally written by Desmond Bagley. Happy reading my summary! And yes, if you’re wondering,it has spoilers.

Not being in the mood to really study that night, I made a cup of coffee and took my The Enemy copy with me to the study room. If the characters of this book turned out to be depressed and misunderstood sort of people like in my previous reading, I thought to myself, I would close it and spend the hours sipping the coffee. Or chatting.

Which was, thankfully, the exact opposite of what I’d done that night. But how could you stop reading such a fast-moving, intelligently-arranged, unpredictable novel even if it has been abridged? When science met politic and the long buried secret was in danger of being exposed? When professionality was tested by love and idealism? To keep you from not wondering a second longer, here’s a short synopsis.

Malcolm Jaggard introduced himself as an economist to most people, including his hopefully father-in-law to-be George Ashton. He had been dating his lovely daughter, Penelope Ashton, for several weeks then and definitely found the biologist/geneticist attractive. He was spending a Sunday with the Ashtons when the first tragedy marking the beginning of this novel occured. Penelope’s own sister, Gillian, was thrown acid on the face by a stranger.

Penny was sad, and Malcolm can’t think of any explanation of the stranger’s behaviour. But Mr. Ashton reaction was the most confusing of all. He suggested –almost insisted- on Malcolm proposing Penny and taking a job in Australia. Weird, right? And because Malcolm was actually a spycatcher, and has access to secret databases, he used this to find who Ashton might be. It shocked him to find that George Ashton’s bio was not accessible to his level, red, and can only be accessed by those of black levels. And it shocked him more when his boss instructed him to guard both Penny and George Ashton.

But just as Malcolm arranged his spying plan, George Ashton disappeared. His letter explained little –if any- reason why, merely indicating his sudden departure with his servant Benson was to protect Penny and he wished Penny and Malcolm happiness. Nevertheless, no further information on Ashton made Malcolm’s work impossible, and he insisted on access to Ashton’s bio in the office’s secret database which his boss, however illegally and reluctantly, gave to him.

George Ashton turned out to be Aleksandr Chelyuskin, a genious Russian scientist who ‘retired’ from weapon lab’s work, faked his death, and moved to Britain. Here he ‘stole’ a dead man’s identity, got married, even developed a business that had made him quite rich. Unless for the business, even his own daughters knew nothing of these.

The police finally found the man who threw acid at Gillian’s face, but Mayberry – that’s what he was called – had nothing to do with George Ashton. So George Ashton’s fear might be wrong after all (the man wanted to harm Penny Ashton for interfering with God’s creatures, but he got the wrong girl). No sooner had he discovered this fact than he discovered that his other boss, Cregar the politician, had been seeing Penny’s professor, Lumsden. Things just got more suspicious.

Then finally George Ashton and Benson were seen in Stockholm, both under different names. Of course Malcolm and his men were at him for once, but things were a lot more complicated that they had anticipated for Russians were spying on Ashton as well. Malcolm got Ashton at last, but hardly had they began talking than a bullet shot through his head by, wait for it, Benson himself! Benson was then shot by one of Malcolm’s man, Henty. But not before he died did Ashton gave Malcolm a train timetable.

Malcolm and his team then went back to England. Most head departments agreed that this failure had proved Malcolm’s lack of competence to undertake the job. However, Ogilvie wanted him to continue , and wanting to see from different angle, Malcolm looked for Benson. Much to his amazement, Benson’s file had disappeared, so Malcolm alerts his superior about it. Suspicions arose. Malcolm tracked Benson’s record to the army (where he worked some thirty years ago) and found that the real Benson had died before 1947. I thought to myself, great. Another impostor to add to the drama. Even more, Benson was actually a spy for Cregar.

Malcolm then realized the model railway that was hidden at Ashton’s house is actually a computer with lots of studies about genetics. At the same time, Penny disappears. Malcolm goes after her and finds her in government’s secret lab in a remote island ran by Cregar. There he saw Penny lying on a bed, badly ill from new bacteria in the lab. Cregar refused to take her to the hospital because of ‘security risk’ and in turn Malcolm blamed him for not taking Penny’s advice on the lab’s safety. This initiated a hard feeling between the two men, and they ended up breaking a glass containing new mutant bacteria. Realizing the danger, Cregar fought his way out but fainted halfway to the door.

Malcolm managed to make contact with one of his man, so that three of them can be transported safely to the mainland. After extensive care from the best doctors from the U.S, Penny recovered. Unfortunately Malcolm wasn’t as lucky, for the unknown bacteria in the lab had caused him malignant cancer and he was to live no more than a year.

I was totally satisfied of the story until this part. Why didn’t Desmond Bagley make a fairy-tale ending for Penny and Malcolm? So Malcolm retired, and spent his last months with Penny in Ireland. Here Malcolm wrote about what things government do in the name of ‘the people’, and how they control things like science and media while Penny took a great care nursing and proofreading his writing. I didn’t know how short their happiness last, for the brightest fire blaze the shortest. But happiness, nevertheless.

oxford cover

This is the best Oxford book I have read for I didn’t put it down until I finished reading it. In my opinion, it makes sense that government controls things because it’s their job to protect the people. It only gets worse if people like Cregar dominates it. However, from the scale 1 to 10, well, I give this book a twelve!

“We have met The Enemy,
and he is us”

written by Tamara Ey Firsty

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Heat and Dust : The Story of India

A while ago, I read a book called Heat and Dust. The abridged version, actually, but the same story nevertheless. I’d like to share it with you….

Authentic Author : Ruth Prawer Jhabvala

 

The character “I” in this story is told to be an independent young woman who was born and lived in England. Her grandfather, Douglas Rivers, was once an assistant of chief in Satipur, India, when British still colonized India. He was married with Olivia, but a scandal happened back then in 1923, when everything changed in, especially, Olivia’s life. Douglas remarried with Tessie Crawford, had a son, who lived in England and was told to be the father of this story’s writer.images

The writer (name is not told) had always been interested in Olivia’s life story, but it’s not until his dad died she got some important information. One day due to Marcia’s (Olivia’s sister) death, a friend Harry gave the Rivers family Olivia’s letters to Marcia about her life in India. The writer kept these letters, and in 1970s, she decided she needed to know more about Olivia, and left for India.

The rest of this book shows the parts of writer’s diary and Olivia’s life, comparing their life in the same place in India but in the different time. Their life was completely different but yet the same in some strange ways. Here it goes…

Being the first wife of a busy official in a foreign country with no one else to share thoughts was pretty depressing for Olivia. Sure she loved her husband Douglas, and he loved her very much as well, but during the day, Olivia only had her piano and she was beginning to get bored. One day the Nawab, an Indian prince, invited British’s officials in Satipur for dinner. Olivia was excited because this was new to her, and she totally enjoyed it when the Nawab seemed to have special interest in her.

Few days later, the Nawab came to her house. They had a good time chatting in the living room. Olivia was clearly thinking the Nawab was a good man. One day, they both went to Baba Firdaus’ shrine, a holy place where Hindu women usually come if they wish to have a baby. But the place was believed to be built by a Muslim, and this aroused controversy every year at Husband Wedding’s Day.  People are killed and injured.

Olivia then started to hear bad news about the Nawab. The British believed that he was a leader of a robber gang that’s been robbing and arousing fear for local villagers. Also the fact that he did nothing to stop the controversy on Husband Wedding’s Day or the widow-burning custom where wives were burnt alive together with their dead husbands. Hearing this talk didn’t make Olivia lose faith in her new friend and she kept visiting the Nawab’s palace during the day, which Douglas didn’t even know, and defended him when the other British talked about his bad.

The climax is when Olivia and the Nawab went to Baba Firdaus’ shrine together. At that time Olivia and Douglas were planning of having a baby, so of course Olivia’s hoping this visit could grant her wish. But after visiting, she and the Nawab made out under a tree…

Which is kind of what the writer also did.

When the writer arrived in Bombay’s airport, she found that India had developed and looked different than what Olivia described in her letters. She stayed in a missionary guesthouse for a while until she went to Satipur and rented a room in Inder Lal’s home. Inder Lal worked for the government, yet he and his family was poor. But he was kind. He took the writer to the building that used to be the Nawab’s palace, the Rivers’ home, the Saunders’ home, etc, and he introduced her to many things about living in India.

She got used to live there, even made friends with Inder Lal’s mom and her ‘holy’ friend, Maji. But her best friend was still Inder Lal. But then Inder Lal’s wife Ritu got some sort of mental illness and as Maji suggested, had to leave for a pilgrimage to the Himalayas. Inder Lal’s mom and a homeless man named Chid accompanied her.

Either that was because he was lonely or he really liked the writer, Inder Lal started to spend more time with her. Their story ended up the same with Olivia’s – both of them went to the shrine and made out.

Olivia and the writer might not have shared the same blood and certainly had never met each other. But they did have the same destiny as the made out thing got them both pregnant, and they both tried to abort the baby. Olivia’s abortion was done by two Indian midwives ordered by the Begum, the Nawab’s mother. At night she bled and Douglas brought her to the hospital, but of course it was too late, she miscarried. But the doctor, Dr.Saunder, recognized the sign of Indian midwives and accused Olivia for abortion. She ran to the Nawab’s home and never came back, living the rest of her life in a house provided by the Nawab in the mountains.

The writer, on the other hand, cancelled her abortion plan right after Maji the midwives rubbed her hand on her stomach. She decided to keep the baby, but she would, like Olivia, stayed in the mountain. She would be there in a religious group’s place, stayed during her pregnancy, oh, maybe even longer. Actually, she considered staying up there for the rest of her life, just like Olivia did.

In the terrible heat and dust of India, people changed. Life changed.

 

Quotes from Harry Potter

“I don’t go looking for trouble. Trouble usually finds me.” (Harry)

“The mind is not a book, to be opened at will and examined at leisure.” (Severus Snape)

“To the well organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.” (Albus Dumbledore)

“It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” (Albus Dumbledore)

“Fear of a name increases fear of a thing itself.” (Albus Dumbledore)

“Humans have a knack for choosing precisely the things that are worst for them.” (Albus Dumbledore)

“Remember, if the time should come when you have to make a choice between what is right and what is easy, remember what happened to a boy who was good, and kind, and brave, because he strayed across the path of Lord Voldemort. Remember Cedric Diggory.” (Albus Dumbledore)

“You fail to recognize that it matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be.” (Albus Dumbledore)

“It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.” (Albus Dumbledore)

“It’’s the unknown we fear when we look upon death and darkness, nothing more.” (Albus Dumbledore)

“It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.” (Albus Dumbledore)

“”Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”” (Albus Dumbledore)
“Things we lose have a way of coming back to us in the end, if not always in the way we expect.” (Luna Lovegood)
“The world isn’t split into good people and Death Eaters. We have all got both light and dark inside us. What matters is the power we choose to act on. That’s who we really are.” (Sirius Black)
“The truth…It is a beautiful and terrible thing, and should therefore be treated with great caution.” (Dumbledore)

Sang Alkemis : (III) Quotes

Quotes, best moments, best lines, all from Coelho’s most inspirational book…

“Tapi aku ingin melihat kastil-kastil di kota asal mereka,” si anak lelaki menjelaskan.

“Saat melihat negeri kita, orang-orang ini juga mengatakan ingin tinggal di sini selamanya,” ayahnya melanjutkan.

“Aku juga ingin melihat negeri mereka, serta cara hidup mereka,” sahut anaknya.

“Orang-orang yang datang kemari itu punya uang banyak, sehingga mereka mampu bepergian,” kata ayahnya. “Di kalangan kita hanya para  gembala yang berkelana.”

“Kalau begitu, aku mau menjadi gembala saja.”

Seperti dia mengerti mengapa si pemilik kedai tampak begitu geram : dia ingin memperingatkan aku supaya tidak mempercayai pemuda itu. “Tapi aku seperti orang-orang pada umumnya – hanya melihat apa yang ingin kulihat, bukan apa yang sebenarnya terjadi.”

 

“Dasar penyihir tua,” si anak berseru kepada langit. “Kau sudah tahu kisah selengkapnya. Kau sengaja meninggalkan potongan emas itu di biara, supaya aku bisa kembali ke gereja ini. Rahib itu tertawa ketika melihatku datang dengan pakaian compang-camping. Tidak bisakah kau menghindarkan aku dari nasib itu?”

Jawabannya serasa datang dalam hembusan angin. “Tidak. Kalau aku memberitahumu, kau tidak bakal melihat Piramida-Piramida itu. Indah sekali, bukan?”

“Isi buku ini sama dengan isi hampir semua buku lain di dunia,” orang tua itu melanjutkan. “Dalam buku ini digambarkan ketidakmampuan irang memilih takdir mereka sendiri. Dan pada akhirnya dikatakan bahwa setiap orang percaya akan dusta terbesar di dunia.”

”Berapa banyak domba-dombamu?”

“Cukup banyak,” sahut si anak. Rupanya laki-laki tua ini ingin tahu lebih banyak tentang kehidupannya.

“Kalau begitu, kita punya masalah. Aku tidak bisa menolongmu kalau kau merasa sudah punya cukup banyak domba.”

Lalu dia memandang langit dengan perasaan agak malu, dan katanya, “Aku tahu ini adalah kesia-siaan atas kesia-siaan seperti kataMu, ya Tuhan. Tapi kadang raja tua ini ingin merasa bangga akan dirinya.”

“Rombongan ini terdiri atas berbagai bangsa, dan masing-masing mempunyai Tuhannya sendiri. Tapi aku hanya melayani satu Tuhan, yaitu Allah, dan dalam nama Allah aku bersumpah, sekali lagi aku akan berusaha sedapat mungkin menaklukkan padang pasir ini. Kuminta masing-masing dari kalian bersumpah sesuai Allah yang kalian sembah, bahwa kalian akan mengikuti perintahku. Di padang pasir, ketidakpatuhan bisa membawa kematian.”

Si anak lelaki hendak meraih tangan Fatima. Tapi kedua tangan gadis itu memegang erat gagang-gagang buyungnya.

“Kau telah menceritakan padaku tentang mimpi-mimpimu, raja tua itu, dan harta karunmu. Kau juga menceritakan pertanda-pertanda itu. Jadi, sekarang tidak ada lagi yang kutakutkan, sebab pertanda-pertanda itulah yang telah membawamu padaku. Aku bagian dari mimpimu, bagian dari takdirmu, seperti kaukatakan.

“Karena itulah aku ingin kau meneruskan mencari impianmu. Kalau kau merasa harus menunggu sampai perang berakhir, tunggulah. Tapi kalau kau merasa harus pergi sekarang juga, pergilah mengejar mimpimu. Bukit-bukit pasir ini senantiasa berubah diembus angin, akan tetapi padang gurun itu tak pernah berubah. Begitu pula cinta kita.

“Maktub,” kata gadis itu. “Kalau aku memang bagian dari mimpimu, suatu hari nanti kau pasti kembali.”

  (Writer’s note : ini line favorit saya, btw J bener2 sesuatu yaa)

Orang asing it memasukkan pedang ke sarungnya, dan si anak merasa lega.

“Aku harus menguji keberanianmu,” kata si orang asing. “Keberanian adalah factor penting untuk bisa memahami Bahasa Dunia.”

Anak itu terperangah. Orang asing ini mengetahui hal-hal yang hanya diketahui sedikit sekali orang.

Akhirnya seorang wanita muda mendeka. Si anak lelaki mendekatinya untuk menanyakan tentang sang alkemis. Pada saat itu waktu seakan berhenti bergerak, dan Jiwa Dunia bergolak di dalam dirinya. Ketika dia menatap mata gelap gadis itu, dan melihat bibirnya yang setengah tertawa dalam kebisuan, dia pun belajar bahasa yang bisa dipahami semua orang di hati mereka. Bahasa cinta.

Setibanya di puncak bukit pasir, hati si anak bagai teronjak. Di sana, di bawah cahaya bulan serta terangnya padang pasir, berdiri Piramida-Piramida Mesir yang anggun dan megah itu. Si anak jatuh berutut dan menangis tersedu-sedu. Dia bersyukur pada Tuhan yang teah memberinya keyakinan untuk percaya pada takdirnya,…

“Mereka sekedar mencari emas,” sahut sang alkemis. “Mereka mencari harta yang ditakdirkan bagi mereka, tapi tidak mau menjalani takdir itu.”

Angin mulai bertiup lagi. Levanter, angin yang berembus dari Afrika. Angin itu tidak membawa aroma padang pasir ataupun ancaman penyerbuan bangsa Moor. Angin itu membawa keharuman parfum yang telah begitu dikenalnya, dan ciuman lembut – ciuman yang datang dari jauh, pelan… begitu pelan… menyapu bibirnya.

Anak itu tersenyum. Baru kali itu Fatima memberinya ciuman.

“Tunggu aku, Fatima,” katanya.