Wednesday, January 09, 2013

A Wayfarer in Pagford




A Wayfarer in Pagford
A review by Andry Chang for

The Casual Vacancy
The novel by J. K. Rowling

The Wayfarer arrived at Pagford Square

I can’t believe myself. Me, the Wayfarer, traveler of worlds of fantasy got myself in Pagford, a small town not too far from London.
Getting off the inter-city bus with my backpack on, I walked towards Pagford Square. As I set foot on the pavement there, I felt envigored by the fresh air that caressed my lungs. I looked around.
“There it is,” I muttered, walking towards a building just ahead.
Instead of an inn, I went into a café and sat in a corner. My legs were killing me.
I glanced around and talked aloud, “Oi, waiter?” But no one came.
The three guests sitting on the bar and tables looked adamant – they were just busy with themselves, reading a book, sipping coffee and talked with each other.
Just then, a girl came half-running towards my table. She was dark-skinned and about sixteen, wearing a white dress and an apron.
“Ah, I’m so sorry, sir. Just got busy out back with my boss giving me tasks,” said the waitress. “We’re kind of short-handed right now. Well, what would you like, sir?”
Wearily yet patiently, I said, “One hot Hazelnut Latte and a slice of your Homemade Bacon Sandwich.”
“Right away, sir!” The waitress dashed towards the counter.
It took her long to finally presenting me with my orders. Yet, I thanked her and began to dig into my meal.
“Err… you’re not from around here, are you sir?” said the waitress almost abruptly, with a frown.
I finished chewing with a ready answer, “Well, that’s obvious, from my backpack, my accent, my looks and all.” Elementary, Watson.
“And not from England either.”
I nodded.
“Mind if I sit here?”
“No problem.”
She sat and extended a hand. “I’m Sukhvinder. What’s your name?”
“Just call me Andy,” I said. “Mind if I call you ‘Suvi’?”
“Sounds nice, yeah.” Suvi smiled. “Where are you from?”
“My hometown is Jakarta.”
“Jakarta like, the capital of Indonesia?”
“Right you are.”
Sukhvinder’s eyes and nostrils widened with interest. “So, tell me, what brought you from Jakarta all the way here, to Pagford? Let me guess, is it because of Joanne’s book?”
The straightforward question deserved a straight answer. “Partly, yes.”
“I knew it,” said Suvi with a frown. “And the other part might be…”
“To meet and talk with a Pagford citizen in that story. You, for one.” I pointed at her with my chin.
“Me? I…” The young girl seemed distraught all of a sudden. “If it’s about the Casual Vacancy incident, everything I want to say to you are written in Joanne’s book. No less, no more.”
“Haha, that’s okay, you don’t have to recite the whole story.” I soothed her frown with a smile. “Just a casual meet-and-greet. I’ve already got everything I need from the book.”
“Well, now that you meet one of us here, I want you to know what you’ve got from Joanne’s book.”
I looked straight at Suvi’s eyes. “Firstly, I want to say this. ‘God is in everyone’s soul, yet society tends to seek the devil within’.”
“And what else?”
“And… when ‘politics’ come in the picture, all hell breaks loose.”
Sukhvinder fell silent. Something in my words must’ve triggered something inside her. My guess is it was an unpleasant, painful, if not traumatizing memory. The memory of friends came and gone. Of trust gained and lost, and even lives lost.
Of innocent, everyday people turned into “monsters” when their secrets were unraveled by The_Ghost_of_Barry_Fairbrother. Who was to blame? The so-called “ghost”? The Casual Vacancy of political power? In a small, almost rural town of Pagford?


From Pagford with love

“True,” said Sukhvinder, her tone turned more serious. “The past incident have brought the worst from some people and the best from some other. But then, who’s the real culprit and the real hero here? All we can see are the victims and… the people who pulled the trigger…”

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