The right place at the right time

One has to have a knack for it. Being there, that is.

Nirupama Subramaniam, journalist and correspondent for The Hindu in Pakistan, who gives a gripping firsthand account in today's papers of the assassination of Benazir Bhutto does have the knack. Her previous assignments include a seven year stint in Sri Lanka, and her "good fortune to view the fast-changing events in the island at close quarters" resulted in a book, Sri Lanka: Voices from a War Zone that was published by Penguin in 2005.

The quote is from a review of the book, also in The Hindu, but we think that the good fortune is more ours, that we have so eloquent, courageous, and sensitive an observer of current events through whose eyes and pen we can learn of the events that compose these interesting times. The book is a composition of ‘little histories’ —of children forcibly recruited into LTTE training camps; of parents waiting for mass graves to reveal their bleak secrets; of people fleeing their homes in war zones only to become prisoners in refugee camps; of the families of the missing who still wait and hope; of women in the maid-trade bonded in virtual slavery in foreign lands. Woven into these narratives are the larger stories—of a President, Chandrika Kumaratunga, elected with a massive mandate for peace but trapped in a war so intense that she was unable to make good her promise; and of Tiger supremo Vellupillai Prabhakaran, trapped too, but in a cage fashioned out of his own egoism and ruthlessness—one he never dare leave.

In the Essays and Nonfiction section.