KITCHEN GARDENING IN A WAR ZONE
Kitchen Gardening in a War Zone was written in 2004 and very quickly became popular, if only after the August 2008 war. It became more significant, because the author returned to her work and introduced into it the theme of the August 2008 war. Because of its acute relevance a play of this name is still being staged in Georgian theatres. Regardless of the specific situation, the work deals with a global problem, for it touches on phenomena that arise in any conflict zone and in the theme of war. The work tells us the story of two brothers. They leave their village on the banks of the Liakhvi river and go to the capital city. They rent a flat from a Russian babushka and try to find their feet in the big city. The elder brother, Robinson, is an agronomist by profession, and works on the greening of the city; the younger brother Zaliko tries to marry a city girl and very soon succeeds. Robinson, now on his own with the Russian babushka, feels more and more nostalgia for his native village, even though his father and mother are no longer there (both have died), and the sight of the house locked up depresses him. Very soon the babushka will die and leave her flat to Robinson. Zaliko begins to have bad headaches. He says that he has caught a strange and dreadful disease which can only be treated in America. Robinson is horrified. Very soon Zaliko and his wife fly to America for treatment. Although his village is now in an area wholly affected by the conflict that gets worse every day, Robinson is overcome more and more by a powerful, subconscious love of his native village. And so, one fine day, Robinson gets into a bus and sets off for his birthplace… Worried and excited, he approaches his own house and the curtain is lifted on a terrible secret: Zaliko has, without telling anyone, sold the house and land and used the money to fly to America… Robinson is horrified, but he consoles himself that it is for the sake of his brother’s health… Suddenly there is a frightful surprise: Zaliko’s first letter from America arrives, and Zaliko is confessing that he never was ill, that he simply emigrated to America and needed money for his initial expenses. Robinson is left utterly alone with his pain. Again, he rushes back to the village which has now become a war zone. All his fellow villagers seem happy to him – they are defending their own ancestral land… Whereas he, apparently, has nothing left to defend… It is then that a strange idea comes into Robinson’s head. Close to his house, on a fallow meadow he lays out a small area for a kitchen garden and thus gets himself a piece of land which needs defending… Then a period of intensive, amazing ‘gardening’ begins, and it really is something big… It gives Robinson’s life meaning. Once again he is in his village, keeping busy, ploughing and sowing, expecting a harvest and the enormous walnut tree that his grandfather planted seems to be standing again and rustling in his soul. The sound of weapons becomes more and more frequent. Women and children flee. Some men’s resistance fails. The new owner of Robinson’s house is wounded and is taken to hospital. He leaves his house and land for Robinson to defend. Robinson selflessly defends his kitchen garden, his former house, his heritage…
‘Everyone ought to read this person’s work, whatever their age. Everyone will find something for themselves in it… Tamri Pkhakadze has written a number of remarkable novels and stories… She has an amazing work, Kitchen Gardening in a War Zone. It is a wonder… When I read it I want to have lived there, in the village of Tamarasheni.’
G. Kiladze, critic / Newspaper Sakartvelos Respublika
‘It is a long time since I have felt the breath of our land anywhere, in the way that Tamri Pkhakadze portrays it in Kitchen Gardening in a War Zone. The feeling is just like the health of somebody you love.’
M. Mosulishvili, writer / magazine Literary Palitra
Extract will be available soon
In case of using the information, please, indicate the source.