Sunday, January 08, 2017

On "where the Red Fern Grows"

When I finished my residency, I had to go for 3 years to serve in rural America as a waiver for my visa. It was one of the most serene time of my life. (fortunately or unfortunately there were no smartphones or even internet). Beautiful hills, lakes and mountains of America. I worked in a community clinic which served low or no income rural American population. They were innocent, kind-hearted, beautiful people. I regularly did home visits and developed strong bonds with many of my patients and staff. Before I went there, our chief resident told me to read a novel: "Where the Red Fern Grows" to have a perspective of actual rural America. Indeed, it was one of the most beautiful novels of bonding, love, faith, hard work and to understand, why it is important to move in life after the death of loved ones or undesired experiences. (This is a must read for dog lovers). After the recent election when rural America became the focus of vote bank, I read that novel again, and it had the similar impact on me. Many times while reading the novel, I paused, pondered and thought about our intricately bonded lives - events and the divine plan. It is considered to be one of the best classics written in modern American literature. Many people cried for hours after reading this novel.

The name of the novel came from a Native American tell of a young boy and girl who are lost in a blizzard and their bodies were found following Spring, frozen together holding hands. Between them, there was a red fern growing. Red Fern symbolizes the most strong bond of love.

You can read full novel here or watch 1974 version of movie here

End of the novel took me back to my old spent days.

"Rubbing my eyes, I looked to the hillside above our home. There it stood in all its wild beauty, a waving red banner in a carpet of green. It seemed to be saying, “Good-bye, and don’t worry, for I’ll be here always.” 

"I have never been back to the Ozarks. All I have left are my dreams and memories, but if God is willing, some day I’d like to go back—back to those beautiful hills. I’d like to walk again on trails I walked in my boyhood days. Once again I’d like to face a mountain breeze and smell the wonderful scent of the redbuds, and papaws, and the dogwoods...

........Yes, I know it is still there, for in my heart I believe the legend of the sacred red fern."

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