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IN CONTEMPT OF FATE
Author: Beatrice Fernando
Genre: Non-fiction (memoir)

Registry #: non004

 

"In Contempt of Fate" is an ultimate testament to one human spirit who survives against all odds, like a weed seeking sunlight through a crack in the pavement. Written in the dramatic style of a novel, this memoir tells the story of a young girl of independent nature reaching for security and freedom in the repressed culture of her native Sri Lanka.

The memoir begins in 1980 with a dilemma as this young Sri Lankan woman is abandoned by her husband, the father of her three-year-old son. To support her child, she begins working as a maid in war-torn Beirut, Lebanon. Life becomes even more harrowing within the fortress-like mansion of her new employer, Lisha. In order to free herself from this cruel and abusive woman, she tries rash action -- which takes her into a four-floor fall from her balcony. Paralyzed, in a Lebanon hospital, she despairs of ever walking, of ever returning to her son, still in Sri Lanka with her parents. Finally, six months later, still unable to walk, she returns home only to be condemned and scorned by her neighbors. But her independent spirit and stubbornness fights against her country's narrow outlook with its oppressive condition for women.

After a few years of struggle she regains her dignity and finds a place in society. When she falls in love with a compassionate man six years younger than her, persecution returns; hostility intensifies with hatred and threats from her lover's parents -- how dare an older woman, not a virgin, steal their son? At the end she makes the choice to give up all that she has gained to provide a safer life for her son, and to find the freedom to be with the man she loves. She leaves her country to start a new life, albeit with strangers in a strange land, with no cloud of past transgressions hanging over her. Her dramatic journey climaxes in coming to the United States, and after ten years she marries the man she loves, and finds a safe haven away from scorn, abuse and open warfare for her son.

Here in one sweep comes the most intimate, most private and truly bottomless pain a person can feel, yet it rings with an abiding courage amid fateful happenstance on every page. With a broken back, internal war rushing around her, abuse on every corner, she thinks only and always of her son, of his future. Here is the true story of a new heroine right out of Near East and Southeast Asia complexities.

 

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