Thursday, January 29, 2009

Hasan Azizul Huq's debut novel review

Aagunpakhi invokes Partition trauma and memories

So I bought and read Aagunpakhi at last. It has been exactly three days since I finished it. I’m still under its spell, though in a much dimished form at this moment. It’s a great Bengali novel written by arguably the best living short-story writer of Bangladesh, Hasan Azizul Huq.

Aagunpakhi is about a woman’s lone struggle and determination to stick to her homeland in the wake of Indo-Pakistan partition even when other members of her family, her husband included, left for Pakistan for security and new home. She never could bring herself to believe that she was no more wanted in the land where she was born, raised up, married, gave birth to her sons and daughters and lived through her childhood, youth, prosperity of her groom, famine, world warII and Hindu-Muslim riots upto the partition of the big land that was India.

Her piognant query as to why this land - moral wasteland actually - was no longer hers simply because of her being a Muslim dumbed and overwhelmed me as a reader. I could not check back my tears at her predicament.

But while reading the novel, I was wondering – I like to deconstruct noves, especially the debut ones - why Hasan was writing about the partition after such a long time. Partition, as a theme, is no doubt a bit stale these days. The last chapter provided the clue to my question, and the protagonist suddenly seemed familiar to me.

As a Hasan aficianodo, I have been tracking him since I loved to admire his work. Hasan was born and raised in a Burdwan village in West Bengal. After his school, he went on to East Pakistan to live with his elder sister and her husband. I noticed such a character in this novel.

I presume Hasan draws heavily - as any real writer should and does – from his childhood experience to write this novel. And the protagonist is actually his mother. Hasan gives an intimate portrait of this lady – simple, naïve, humanitarian - against a Bengal countryside complete with social and demographic details in his original, realistic and pared-down prose. Her transformation in the end to a rebel of sort, though a bit abrupt, touches our chords.

P.S. Some translator should step in immediately to grab this novel for translation.

No comments:

Search This Blog

My Blog List