Saturday, June 16, 2012

Tale of neglected India!

Book Review: Fiction/ The inexplicable unhappiness of Ramu Hajjam by Taj Hasan, Hachette, 231 pp; Rs295 (Paperback)
Owing to chronic neglect, India has, in patches, its many circumscribed zones, often decoding them for knowing the real issues appeared too onerous. Also maintaining a’ sangfroid’ position is unthinkable —for both the extreme suppressers and dissents —hence, what is prevailing in the foreground is too far derailed to be called functionally rational. Raking off the resources is at alarmingly high in India’s ‘red corridors’ with the incessant proverbial follies of law executioners and adamant dissents, whose causes for fight are somehow genuine but not all antics where they are matching in the ‘play of open butchery’ with the forces of state.

Taj Hasan’s debut novel is pathbreaking as it has been written with a great degree of interface with the bottom level of socio-economic life in distant rural terrains that have been neglected and bereft of any engagement from the side of state. The author of this book is a distinguished name in the country’s police service and is equipped with a deep understanding of the nature and causes of such discontent. Thus, Hasan hardly takes the widely travelled route of formal circumspection in his narration; instead he constructs a fiction which tells everything the way any serious work of non-fiction, in its best form, would do.

It can be easily sensed from recent trends that Indian English fiction writing seems to have completely severed ties with purposive issues such as alienation, betrayal of system and the persisting tussle between growth and disavowing loud voices. The growing indifference with politics or socio-economic plots is building the charm for new fiction writing in India, which seems increasingly more unreal —if only for some exception that can sometimes be discerned. From the perspective of a thinking person, such developments are irritating, condemnable and avoidable.

The inexplicable unhappiness of Ramu Hajjam is set in the villages of Tesri and Bhagatpur on the same stretch of river Kareh. The tale moves simply through intertwining with centuries of social divisions that have made the societal structure totally amiss from any healthy prospects. The protagonist Ramu Hajjam is a part of the Indian tradition that gives a viable condition to subsist for existence and not to contradict an age old balance based on ‘social discrimination’. What he does throughout his life by facing the harsh treatments of feudal minded characters like Subedar Singh and others doesn’t restrain the successive generation in joining a course correction exercise, however, through the same language of violence.

His son joins the rank of Naxalites, kills the oppressor, though his chosen path shown to be not accepted by Ramu Hajjam, and is still bound to live a stoic life. That moral dilemma in actual terms is present in the picture of the existing conditions in many troubled villages across India which in no way have any connection with an alternative India; the one that is aspiring for a global jump by escaping its dark domestic truths. Covertly this book refers this objectionable devoid unsustainable in the medium to long run.

Written with a masterly command of literary elegance and factual correctness, this work of fiction exudes enough potential to be ranked as a reliable source for contextualising the situation from red corners. Although earlier, indeed few good books have been written on this theme within the non-fiction category by Indian polemicists or in journalistic writings, the domain of English fiction were never so resolutely involved with the radical upsurge in forgotten rural India. Hasan’s book primarily constructs a leading character, Ramu Hajjam, though simultaneously, it also captures amazingly well the whole collective world around the principal lead. This book is a big success in terms of creative engagement with the kind of ‘issues’ that should never be (considered) ‘non-issues’!
Atul Kumar Thakur
June16,2012, Saturday, New Delhi

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