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Mister God, This Is Anna

March 28, 2010

“So very many times over the next three years i heard her laughter – no silver bells or sweet rippling sounds was her laughter, but like a five-year-old’s bellow of delight, a cross between a puppy’s yelp, a motor-bike and a bicycle pump. ”

This is how Fynn describes a little girl who left his life as suddenly as she had come into it. A little girl about whom Fynn writes, ” She never made eight years; she died by an accident.”
A girl full of life. Precocious and adorable.

Fynn is the pseudonym used by the author Sydney Hopkins.
Mr God this is Anna.

Fynn and his family adopt Anna. Or it would be more accurate to say that Anna adopts Fynn and his family as her very own.
Little Anna and Fynn become inseparable companions.

Its a book that takes some getting used to. I didn’t know whether to continue reading it or just leave it in between. Its an exasperating book in places.
One doesn’t know if six year old kids really can quote all that Anna does with such confidence or whether all of Anna’s ‘wisdom’ is simply a figment of the author’s own imagination. If not all, then certainly parts of it. Atleast that’s the feeling I got. However, Vernon Sproxton who wrote the introduction to the book believes Anna was very real. A little girl who really was part of Fynn’s life for three something years.

This is what Vernon Sproxton writes about this book in the introduction.

There are good books, indifferent books, and bad books. Amongst the good books some are honest, inspiring, moving, prophetic and improving. But in my language there is another category: there are Ah! Books. This is one of them.
Ah! Books give you sentences which you can roll around in the mind, throw in the air, catch, tease out, analyse. But in whatever way you handle them, they widen your vision. For they are essentially Idea-creating, in the sense that Coleridge meant when he described the Idea as containing future thought – as opposed to the Epigram which encapsulates past thought. Ah! Books give the impression that you are opening a new account, not closing an old one down.

While Vernon is very sure of Fynn, he is very puzzled regarding Anna .

He writes, ”.. But Anna … she was qualitatively different, and she had me puzzled, not so much because of her flamboyant precociousness, but because I needed a good deal more documentation of her uniqueness. To begin with, I found it hard to believe that anyone could have existed at that age who was so untouched by the constraining type of education available at that time, and whose precocity took the form of devastating challenges to the received way of construing things; and more so, when her nascent philosophy went to the heart of some problems of spiritual perception and the nature of being which are precisely contemporary. ”

As I was reading the book, I sometimes thought and still think that perhaps it is us, the cynical adults who find it hard to believe that children can understand as much as they do. And that they can make us see it too. IF we are fortunate enough to be with them in those moments.

One of the parts that I loved in the book was this.

The whole business of adults going to church filled Anna with suspicion. The idea of collective worship went against her sense of private conversations with Mister God. As for going to church to meet Mister God, that was preposterous. After all, if Mister God wasn’t everywhere, he wasn’t anywhere. For her, churchgoing and “Mister God” talks had no necessary connection. For her, the whole thing was transparently simple. You went to church to get the message when you were very little. Once you had got it, you went out and did something about it. Keeping on going to church was because you hadn’t got the message or didn’t understand it or it was “Just for swank”.

Came across a mention of Anna’s grave in a London cemetery.

… the EAST LONDON CEMETRY GRANGE ROAD LONDON E13. The nearest train station is PLAISTOW. To enter you go through the iron gates Fynn mentioned. I’d say these have obviously painted since Anna’s time. When you walk down the main drive there are a number of marble angels to your right. However you will come to a small stone cottage here you turn right. On your left is a few more angels but one in particular is I think the one Fynn refered to. When you consider the base it stands on plus the height of the statue itself it would easily be 12 foot or more. It holds a small bunch of flowers in it’s left hand and seems to be bending slightly to put the flowers on the grave. I looked but could not find any grave that I could positively identify as Anna’s. Of course it is over 60 years since Anna’s death and the cemetry has no doubt been extended, but I think when you see it you can get a pretty good idea where Fynn was. Outside the cemetry grounds is a long cement/concrete wall. It surrounds a large open area but most significantly there is a mainline railway track. This I think is the cemetry wall where Anna showed Fynn how shadows move faster than light.

The book is slim in appearance but it will test your patience in the beginning as you start reading.
From thereon, the perception of the book would depend on each individual.:)
The book is not about God or about religion. It is about the world as seen through the eyes of a little girl called Anna.

Whether you like it or you don’t, one thing is for certain.
She will make you think. Not once but many times.

You certainly won’t be able to forget the book. Or a little girl named Anna .

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