21 Aug 2014
Tags: Spanish Inquisition, Persecution of Jews.
8 year old Jerry is abandoned by her mother at a campground and the trauma mutes Jerry. No amount of prompting or probing can make her talk. It is not like Jerry has lost her words, she can think of appropriate responses, but words refuse to come out of her mouth. Pronounced as a ‘selective mute’ Jerry stays in multiple Catholic Charities, but after 6 years the Catholic Charities decide that Jerry’s mother is dead and sends Jerry to live with her great-grandaunt Costanza in New Mexico. In Costanza’s basement, Jerry discovers a chest that contains the family’s bloody secret. A chest that helps Jerry overcome her selective mutism.
Jerry finds a mish-mash of objects in the trunk and for some reason when Jerry picks up an object, the history of the object and the life of its owner plays out in front of Jerry’s eyes. Thus, we, as readers, learn about the turbulent times and the tragedy Miriam(Seville, Spain, 1391), Beatriz(Toledo, Spain, 1449),
Luis(Seville, Spain, 1480), Esther(Granada, Spain, 1492), Zayana(Yucatan Penunsula, New Spain, 1540), Zayana(New Mexico, 1590), Jeraldine(New Mexico, 1912) go through during the times of Spanish Inquisition.
As the book ends, Jerry has over come her selective mutism, but we still do not have answers to what happened to Jerry’s mother and why the chest talks only to Jerry. But the purpose of Jerry is probably to show us, the readers, glimpses of the atrocities of the inquisition. Jerry is just a medium to tell us the story that spans 500 years and her story is not central in the bigger scheme of things.
Any good book leaves the reader with a lot of questions, so does Blood Secret.
It is puzzling why Jews are always a persecuted sect all over the world. Spanning over 2500 years, more than 10 million Jews have been killed. If you are anguished about the madness that killed 6 million Jews during Holocaust, you will be shattered to read how methodically the madness had been propagated over centuries and across continents during the times of inquisition!
What is it about religion? I fail to understand both sides, one side that is forces their faith over the rest of the world and would kill for it and the other side that would value their faith over their lives. Zayana the Aztec was a character that I identified with. When forced to baptize her daughter in order to be allowed to continue her baking business, she comes up with the most practical of solutions,
“And I believe in doing business, bread business, and if they want to call God Jesus Christ and I want to call him Quetzecoatl, well, that’s another kind of business altogether – private business.”
Needless to say she is strong and is survivor. She manages to outlive her daughter and grand daughter.
To me, my faith is something I grew up with. Its part of my memory and the reason I find comfort in it is because I am familiar with my faith. But having been converted for 5 generations and having lost their religious practices, what motivates people like Estrella and Carlos to risk everything, most importantly their children and practice the lost religion of their ancestors?
It is sad that faith, something that is supposed to give humanity hope to live, strength to carry on, can be so lethal.