Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Day of the Jackal

As the Jackal readies his rifle, adjusts it into the perfect position and positions himself to pull the trigger, my pulse races. Even before he pulls the trigger, I become sure that in the next few paragraphs, I'll read about how Charles De Gaulle will die on the spot, how he will lie in a pool of blood with his skull cracked, how the highest authorities of France will not be able to save their president despite all those security measures and how people all over the world will be stunned at the whole incident. But, unfortunately, the Jackal is unsuccessful. Its hard for me to believe that he, The Jackal, is unsuccessful. Its so tragic that even after all his preparations, he falls prey to one of those slight, and yet, very big, mistakes which human beings commit. He overlooks a simple Gaullist ritual and misses his target, eventually bringing about his own downfall.

I know that while reviewing any book or movie, I'm not supposed to give out the end. But, for this masterpiece named 'The Day of the Jackal', written by Frederick Forsyth, I couldn't help doing so. I strongly wanted to express how bad I felt for The Jackal in the end. The Jackal is the codename of the anonymous Englishman who had been hired by Marc Rodin, Operations Chief of the French OAS organisation of the 1960s, to kill Charles De Gaulle, the president of France. The book starts off with the true account of an unsuccessful attempt to kill De Gaulle in August 1962, by Bastien-Thiry and others. After Thiry's execution, Marc Rodin decides that the only way left to overthrow De Gaulle, is to hire a foreigner to kill him--a very experienced and skilful killer, but a foreigner, whose name won't be present in any French police records. It is then that The Jackal enters the scene and chooses his codename himself.

The book is divided into three parts. The first part, 'Anatomy of a Plot', describes how The Jackal plots to kill De Gaulle. He goes about securing false passports and driving licenses and makes very careful observations to assume as many as four false identities. He gets a very special rifle made,practices with it and decides everything relating to when, where and how he will kill De Gaulle. Everything goes on very smoothly for him and there seems to be no force on earth which can discover his activities and stop him.

But, as the first part draws to a close, we find Commissaire Claude Lebel, 'the best detective of France', on The Jackal's trail, after a certain OAS member is captured. The French police and other authorities conclude that a man about whom nothing, save his codename, is known, is out there somewhere, waiting to take the life of the French President. It is then that Lebel is ordered to take the rsponsibility of finding him out with necessary help from other departments. And, when it is the question of the life of someone as important as the French President, the authorities leave no stone unturned to try and track The Jackal down. The second part of the book, 'Anatomy of a Manhunt', concerns this tracking down. The third part, 'Anatomy of a Kill', is about the final touches to the work on the part of both The Jackal and Lebel , ultimately resulting in the detective's victory.

But, I so wish that The Jackal had been successful...Its not that I particularly hate De Gaulle when I say this. In fact, I'm not considering any historical fact here. Its the fictional part about The Jackal's adventures that enthralls me. His cleverness, his extreme courage and confidence to undertake those risks and his sheer determination to carry on, even after knowing that the whole of France was on the lookout for him, make me feel sorry when he misses his target by inches. Full credit goes to him because while he laid out the plan and almost executed it completely on his own, Lebel received loads of help from the authorities of several countries. Sometimes, The Jackal is very ruthless, killing two or three innocents, when he realizes that they may prove to be obstacles in the path leading to De Gaulle. He is not bothered by these crimes because the only thing that matters to him is piercing a bullet through De Gaulle's head. In spite of this ruthlessness, he spins a secure web of support in the end from the readers.

The author also presents several other characters, who are connected with the main plot in one way or the other, and also portray the attitudes and emotions of people who had been affected by the Gaullist policies. Lastly, kudos to Mr. Forsyth for presenting The Jackal in such an exciting manner! The various situations he has created in the book can engage the readers so much that they cannot let their attention be diverted even for a fraction of a second, and therein lies the biggest power of his writing--to keep the readers glued to the book till the last page is turned.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Eating sessions!

I'm writing a post around ten days after my exams got over. So, what had I been doing all this time? I had been eating!

Yes, ever since my exam ended, that's how I seem to have spent 70% of my time. It all began last Wednesday, when I had a lot of ice-cream to taste the freedom of the post-exam days. On Saturday, we received an invitation from my mother's school friend and ate fish fries, a typical fry with butter filled inside( forgot the name), and potato fries and glasses of cold drinks. The fervour continued on Sunday afternoon, as I went for lunch with my parents and grandparents. We chose the buffet spread and got to have a wide range of dishes, from soup to noodles, chicken to prawn and lamb to crab. Even the dessert included fruits and mousse, apart from ice-cream. That was not the end though. The same evening, due to a bizarre string of incidents, my parents and I went to see my uncle, who's been sick for some days now. While the rest of us were engaged in a conversation, my aunt slipped into the kitchen and prepared puris for us. After a while, I lost count of the number of puris she had served me!

I again had dinner with my parents at McDonald's on the occasion of Bengali New Year. Besides, I enjoyed the great food prepared by my grandmother, on the day I spent at their place. Tomorrow, I will be going out with my friends and so, there are more eating sessions coming up. So, you can all understand by now that very soon, I'll put on weight!