Audarya Lila: The Death of Tuomas Makinen

kannet_acropKaisa Leka, Audarya Lila: The Death of Tuomas Makinen, Helsinki: Absolute Truth Press, 2008.

Review by Malin Bergström

The Death of Tuomas Mäkinen is a story about crossroads, told from three different perspectives, with each tale confined to a separate book. Tuomas’s, or Tume’s, decision to join a Californian Hindu monastery is carefully depicted through the eyes of his parents, through the heart of his ex-girlfriend, Eija, and finally through his own experiences.

The first book reflects on his youth, where his sensitivity against western traditions is discovered; he is upset when given too many Christmas presents and becomes somewhat enclosed in his own musical world which leads him to a life within the arts. Indeed, perhaps the first sign of Tume’s spiritual rebirth is through his grandmother, who during a birthday party presents him with books on philosophy and challenges him to think beyond material purposes. After his decision to leave Finland for an arguably uncertain path, his parents are forced to examine their influence on Tume’s life and are confronted with the divided traditions between western religion and eastern philosophy. Equally, Tume struggles with finding a balance between the two when visiting from the monastery.

The story of Eija and Tume is particularly bittersweet. The difficulties of trying to support a long-term partner who is going through a spiritual struggle, while finding the partner drifting further away, is delicately portrayed in Kaisa Leka’s trademarked mouse characters. The book is dark; Eija’s despair is wonderfully familiar as their break-up contains all of the universal elements of bitterness, depression, and longing. Yet here as well Tume’s path has widened Eija’s possibilities. Their separation forces Eija to see herself as an independent woman and not merely the girlfriend of a strong personality. She changes and re-emerges fully capable, a metamorphosis rather than an adaptation to a new situation.

Tume’s own point of view is crucial to the flow of the books. In the final book the purpose of his life-altering decision becomes clearer. Throughout the story he is searching for meaning and reason, and the monastery becomes like a calling. It is not necessarily about answers but understanding, and after speaking with the Swami, Tume understands that his future lies in simplifying life and changing his goals. He maintains his faith through the insecurities despite little support from his loved ones. At the monastery he is confronted with a new set of challenges, where priorities change and rehabilitation begins.

The separate stories all center around Tume’s philosophical search, emphasizing that it is not something anyone ever goes through alone. Kaisa Leka’s illustrations are simple yet portray the story effectively; the mice allow the characters to remain anonymous and therefore reachable for the individual reader. The three books are hand bound in a traditional Japanese style suitable to the tone of the story; the delicate and disciplined effect of the exterior honors the illustrations. They are contained in a hardcover folder with impeccable imagery. The choice of color is a gray-blue that is tranquil and yet emphasizes the weight of the subject matter; it compliments the simplicity of the layout. This is a beautiful and fragile story told with undertones of humor. The strength of it is in the humanity behind it, molded into illustrations which give insight into a life-altering struggle in the search for peace.

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