When I began to build the foundation for Another Heaven, a novel that addresses the horrors of human trafficking and terrorism, I was concentrating on the plight of the victims of terrorism and the missionaries who have to make devastating decisions. As my ideas seeped into the first chapter and trickled into the next, I realized that I wanted to reveal more than the cruel consequences of terrorism. Through this work, I wish to speak frankly to my readers, one-on-one, about how innocent individuals are cruelly targeted for missionary duties. I do mean duty in its fundamental sense…for the victims, through dangerous channels of human trafficking, are mesmerized into believing that they are performing their ultimate duty.
My story focuses primarily on three factors; human rights abuse, fanatical religious beliefs, and the psychological fraud of terrorism, and all three factors converge to feed on one another. Fanatical religious beliefs reach beyond faith-based compulsions. What begins as a sacred duty often develops into an uncontrollable urge, which, in turn, becomes an obsession that lasts a lifetime. In such cases, the fanatic is trained to use psychology to lure individuals to become his missionaries. He is not concerned about violation of human rights while training minds to execute his missions. Human rights abuse is an inevitable occurrence that cannot stain his agenda, and so is the loss of lives. Although Another Heaven discusses the evils of terrorism, it is not a typical terrorist story. Rather, it tries to expose a terrorist’s mind, with psychological fraud as the core of the narrative. Where does psychological fraud fit in the puzzle? Well, the act of brainwashing and the art of persuasion work well together to commit a fraud, the biggest swindle mankind is facing everyday. It works on the premise of false promises; reaching one’s heaven and obtaining salvation. Come to think of it, the fanatic himself is a victim of psychological fraud, and the vicious cycle continues. Where will this endless cycle take us?
We allow terrorism to exist, to take roots within our communities. Our system, ill-equipped to battle against a few voices trying to establish their unique agenda, watches violence and even lets it thrive in the vulnerable hands of this world. Do we control the system, or do we sit silently and let it control us? The answer is not clear, if there is one. Do we even have an ambiguous answer, just to wash away our curiosity? Not knowing where to turn, we, all of us, become victims of terrorism—whether we die, watch others die, or simply dread the future that could mercilessly swallow the safety of our near and dear.
The topic of terrorism leads the novel to explore counter-terrorism efforts. What role does counter-terrorism play in Another Heaven? It appears primarily through a doctoral student’s research to understand the motives behind terrorism, especially the psychology behind terrorism, and through a few individuals who work with her to comprehend the mindset of a terrorist. Recognizing this small facet, the psychology that shapes the dedication of a terrorist, is perhaps a small piece in a very large puzzle, but it can hopefully open some doors. I see it as a stepping stone to understanding the absolute compulsion that prompts the terrorist to do what he does unflinchingly, remorselessly, with a frightening sense of abandonment.
Another Heaven is not about the ills happening in one part of the world or an episode that exposes a particular group of people. The narrative, in every sense, is about individuals around the world who have unwittingly or deliberately become instruments of violence. Therefore, my story is meant to objectively speak to a universal audience. The novel takes its readers to various vignettes by making a journey through missions that involve human trafficking, missionaries who are subjected to lifelong servitude or terminal missions, and ordinary humans who are extraordinarily affected by one man’s destructive decisions. The story, while portraying the collapse of mankind that is triggered by fanatics and violence, tries to stress that global discord is everybody’s concern. Another Heaven aims to call for a bold campaign against a system that systematically demolishes humanity by degrading its core.
–By Annu Subramanian–
Annu Subramanian, an award-winning educator and writer, is currently the director of The Writing Center at Brown School in Schenectady, New York, and she is the author of the novel Waiting for the Perfect Dawn. She has cofounded Albany Women Connection, a support group, in Albany, New York. Another Heaven (Apprentice House-Maryland, USA) is her second novel and is scheduled for release in May 2013. The proceeds from this book will be dedicated to organizations helping victims of human trafficking. She can be reached through the following websites: www.annusubramanian.com