Nowadays, the books I actually finish reading are few and far between. Examples of books I have deserted are – The Grapes of  Wrath, Wuthering Heights1984 (to be fair 1984 was a re-read). Sitting, waiting and collecting dustballs on my shelf are Stephen King’s The ShiningThe Time Traveller’s Wife, Nietzsche’s The Will to Power (one of my hopeful pseudo-intellectual conquests – remains to be seen if I will actually read it!). So I usually consider it a feat when I finish a book. That usually also means that the book was particularly resonant, because otherwise other priorities like my Business Taxation textbook would have taken over.

Today, the book that filled my four lonely hours in the Warwick Arts Centre gallery was Anne Frank’s Diary. Reading commenced during my trip to Bremen  – mostly while waiting around at Stansted and Bremen airports – and I finally managed to complete it this evening.

I don’t suppose I need to give a summary of the book here- this isn’t a book review. I just feel a really strong urge to record my reaction, because this book left me feeling very despondent and moved me to tears at several occasions.

I cried not at Anne’s recounts of sad or tragic events. I cried mostly at the happy parts – at Anne revelling in the beauty of nature, at Anne penning down her ambitions to travel and study and become a writer, at Anne writing down her thoughts about her darling Peter’s character weaknesses and their relationship, at Anne raging against her mother’s behaviour and adults in general.

I could relate to so many things Anne wrote and felt. I recall the anger I felt at my own mother many many times before; not only because I was a rebellious and sullen teenager, but I felt on many occasions sore at the injustice of being reprimanded for my childish behaviour when adults were being less than rational themselves.

And the reason I cried was because – for all these similarities I recognised, the big difference was that – I get to think about what I want to do tomorrow. And in five years. In ten years. I have to right and the freedom to live, and reasonably assume no constraints to my ambitions. I get to love freely and take a walk outside when I want to breathe in fresh air.

This girl, who was every bit as human and lively as I am, who is at least as intelligent, if not more, than I am – had her life cut short just like that. Just because she was a Jew. How is that fair? I know her case is not isolated. I know people die under unfair circumstances everyday, even today. But it is not often you get to read one’s innermost thoughts in the couple of years leading up to her death. It is not often that you get to starkly contrast the lively, intelligent thoughts that fill the person’s head with the abrupt, horrific termination of this person’s life not long later.

It is frightening and saddening to think that this living embodiment of talent, emotions, wit, memories and innocence can be stamped out to nothing by one person’s heinous implementation of a badly misled agenda. And that this person could have influenced so many other people, perfectly good and decent people, into supporting and executing these acts.

As Anne said, she believes that we all as human beings have the murderous instinct to kill deep down inside. I wouldn’t say we do – I would think that instead, it is easy to bring out the worst in people by simply creating adversity and fear. Human beings are so weak and easily influenced. Anne wrote something that resonates with what I just wrote yesterday in a reflective assignment. I wrote that all of us as human beings have moral values are subject to the confluence of life experiences and peer pressure. Thus it is essential that we appraise and evaluate these values once in a while, because then we can ensure that what we do is not a detriment to other people.

Anne wrote the very same thing, but phrased differently.

See what I mean? This was 70 years ago, by a 15 year old girl, two years into being cut away from the rest of the world. The endurance of human will is remarkable, yet at the same time, it is so easily vanquished.

This book makes me feel so fortunate. When some international students around me in Warwick complain about so many ridiculous inconsequential things, or take their good fortune of affording an overseas education for granted, sometimes I feel like giving them a big shake and saying – look, here you are in the UK. Do you have any idea how lucky you are that your parents could afford this? That you can come here and pay 14000 pounds a year, and still buy your rows of Aldo shoes and splurge on your extensive wardrobe and fly all around Europe for holidays? Why are you squandering all this on being ignorant and superficial? Why are you squandering this on weed and cigarettes and not making the most of what you were blessed enough to receive?

It upsets me. I had a highly disturbing conversation on the bus yesterday, and I am still reeling from it. I wrote a little rant about it in my notebook at the gallery. But I shall leave off for now and save that for another day.

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