Ndura, Son of the Forest
Javier Salazar Calle
It should go without saying that works of fiction are the products of dreams. Someone has a mental and/or emotional image of an outcome and from that image a work of some type is created. Rarely is that work presented as the dream itself, and rarer still is the dreamer the sole protagonist. Yet, Javier Salazar Calle has done exactly that in Ndura, the Son of the Forest. I have to admit that reading a work proclaimed by the author from the beginning to be a dream derived from the time just before sleep is a strange feeling and one that having read the work still will not leave me. The difference between this work and most works of fiction is that this is told as a first person narrative of a personal experience that constantly struggles between normal anxiety, objective observation and outright panic.
So, what if you were a passenger in an aircraft targeted by a ground-to-air missile flying over the equatorial jungle of central Africa near the border of the Congo, Uganda and the Sudan? What if rebels killed or enslaved any surviving passengers; what if you saw your two best friends killed one in the crash, one by the rebels, while you managed to escape into the jungle? Thus, the stage is set for the author’s imagination and extensive research into central Africa forest flora and fauna, the Pigmy people and his idea of what his reactions would be if he were actually experiencing being marooned for a number of days in a central African forest. The rest is the tale of the trek itself, starvation, fatigue, ants, mosquitoes, snakes and misery.
My mind wandered away from the story as I read; after all, this was a dream, the story wasn’t happening. I use my imagination to immerse myself into the action and to identify with the characters in the stories I read. Therefore, the action should count for something. When you’re told from the beginning that the story is only a dream, I’m sorry, I can’t get into it. Nevertheless, aside from a few, but apparent editing errors, the story was well written and effectively conveyed the anxiety, panic, and other emotions he was striving to achieve in the reader. Because of the emotions his descriptions evoked and because he included a glossary of Swahili and Pigmy words used in the story, I felt four-stars were appropriate.
Clabe Polk is into a second career as a fiction author. He has taken more than thirty-seven years of professional managerial experience, scientific background, a lifetime of practical skills, his love of reading, research and writing and combined them into action stories about real people told in a tongue-in-cheek style all his own.
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