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Mar 10, 2013 08:56 AM 7592 Views
(Updated Mar 10, 2013 08:58 AM)



"Nothing in this world can be more fearsome than the ruins of a man."

Just like most of Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Gabba) works, ‘Leaf Storm’ also starts with the smell of Death. Doctor, the mysterious character of the story, dies and Colonel, the protagonist, is arranging for his last rites, but there is great deal of adversity that he has to go through to accomplish this hateful job. As everyone one in the village’s waiting for the day when Doctor dies, they hate him so much that they want to enjoy the rotten smell of his decaying body in the air. But Colonel has a promise to keep, that he made to Doctor when he saved his life some years ago. “You don’t owe  me anything, Colonel. But if you want to do me a favor, through a little earth on me when morning finds me stiff. That’s all I need for he buzzards not to eat me.”

Will Colonel be able to fulfill his promise against the wish of the villagers is a question that lingers on the mind of a reader from the beginning. First you wonder what Doctor had done that villagers hate him so much that they are so keen to see his body decaying. When you know the reason, just like the villagers, you hate the character of Doctor and kind of agree with the villager’s perspective and wonder why Colonel is going against the whole village. Then comes the question of promise, but I guess it’s something more than promise that drives Colonel to provide Funeral to Doctor’s dead body – “I am not doing it for myself. Maybe not for the peace of the dead man either. Just to fulfill a sacred promise.


I haven’t read a character so far who is more filled with Solitude that Doctor of ‘Leaf Storm’. He is a mysterious kinf of character that from his very first appearance, like in the wife of Colonel, raises a feeling of hate and displeasure. And as days go on, he becomes more and more stranger, and finally he starts living alone in a house where he dies by committing suicide. I guess, it’s only Colonel who really knows Doctors circumstances and analyses it right when he feels that it’s not hate but pity that he deserves.

Told from viewpoints of Colonel, his daughter Isabel and his grandson, reader finds the narrative shifting among them, time after time. As it starts with viewpoint of Grandson, a small child, who like the reader, hardly knows anything about the history behind the death and is kind of forced to be part of the funeral, he doesn’t know who the Doctor was and why the people hated him and what the promise was. Then it moves more into the viewpoint of Isabel, who knows the facts, but only in parts, from whatever she’s heard from the people around; and towards the end it is mostly told with Colonel’s viewpoint, the man who has seen it all and knows it all. I guess, this is the major feature of this book, providing the reader with the narrative that drive the story in a way, that makes it interesting and intriguing all the way.

How I wished that GGM should have gone a step further and covered the viewpoint of Doctor as well. What goes on in the mind of Doctor is a kind of mystery and it remains so. Only when he requests Colonel to bury his body when he dies that one realizes the extent of his loneliness.

For the sake of reviewing facts, I must say that, first 20-30 pages forms an amazing read, as the mystery is created around the death and the promise. Its gets a bit slow in the middle with some unnecessary characters getting the center stage. But towards the end it again gains the moment and forms a satisfying read by the time, reader finishes it. But as someone has written in his review, “I will read anything marquez list, doodles, short story, novel” – a fan of GGM can hardly complain after reading anything written by him

First published in 1955, ‘Leaf Storm’ was the first book of GGM - although reading it you will never feel so. It was in this book that Gabba first introduced the Village of Mocondo that he later immortalized in ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’. It’s a short Novella of around 100 pages. Language is simple and poetic with theme of Death and Solitude lingering on from the very first page.

It’s a feat of Gabba’s writing – and a very good feat it indeed is – that he writes about despairing themes and yet succeeds in generating hope and inspiration in the Hearts of his readers. ‘Leaf Storm’ is the not the best of GGM, but it still is special, for it’s the first book that he wrote; for its book that first gave us Mocondo; for it gives as character like Colonel to follow and character like Doctor to think and reflect upon.

P.S: Few Quotes from the book are in comments section.



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Leaf Storm - Gabriel Garcia Marquez