(I am damn irritated. Am writing this post for the third time… What do I do with all these browsers!! x-( Let me try anyway)
Boughts and read this novel yesterday. Is the Hindi translation of one of Sushmita Bandopadhyay’s Bengali Novel. Novel is autobiographical – based on her real life experiences. Pardon me for my lack of knowledge, but I did not know much about the movie “Escape from Taliban” and it’s connection with the author/book. I was just browsing through the books in Universal Store, flipped through its pages, from the preface it was clear that it was not just a work of fiction. So ended up byuing it.
No writer-like skills are visible in the book (unless the translation has done a gross distortion to her skills, which does not appear to be the case). It’s a very simple narration. Its written in the first person and is written injust the way in which a woman would narrate her day to day stories or a family trip to a friend of hers. She naively wonders at the backwardness of the society there. At the differences in food patterns. She takes up one thing, then wanders away and comes back. Relates her urge to fight with the character of her grandparents. Wonders at the character of Afgani women who, during the long absenses of their husbands, fall for adultery. Bemoans those daughter-in-laws who are very nice to their parents and siblings, but not to their husband’s relations. Her expressions of disgust, anger, Indian pride, are all very typical of a common woman next door – nothing like a prolific writer, who can bring witty comparisons and dramatic feel to the things. Now – all this is not meant to say that book is not good. On the contrary, they make the description authentic.
The knowledge about the condition of Afganistan and the horrors of situation under Taliban are the most obvious take-aways of the book. Needless to say, things were horrible. Women could not go out without a male company. No passenger vehicle driver will let a woman board it if she is not accompanied by a male. In fact, if reported as traveling alone, she would be arrested for the ‘crime’!! Can not work, can not study, can not do what-not are well known to all of us. Won’t dwell much on that part.
There are other aspects, however.Many of horror stories are not exvlusive to Afganistan. It is obvious that the writer has been a city-bred girl who has not seen much of the rural and backward India either. The fight over grapes amongst the family members, the ill-treatment of relations in absence of or after death of male head of the family, lack of concern for growing children, no respect for the human lives (people being killed for small pieces of properties etc.) are the things you can see in many of the backward regions of India too. And why go to some not-so-publicizes cases. What about the much talked about Imrana case (Where is she now? What has happened to her? How is she living?)! Yeah – probably the atrocious rules of the community can be blamed for her situation – same community rules that Talibanis were trying to exploit. But then, what about the cases of women being mistreated for the charges of witchcraft!! And tons of other examples of barberism, savagery.
It’s there just about everywhere. At some of the places, it has been covered up by a layer, which is shining, which looks spotless. At some other places, it has been laid down thread bare. Because the society could never gain means to create that shining layer.
Another sad thing is to note as to how the common people are being crushed in the wars between one power-hungry group after the other. People welcome one thinking that they will improve the things; they turn out to be as exploitative and probably more than the earlier ones. Then they welcome others – utter confusion. No wonder, people have forgotten the sense of right and wrong. What stories are there to teach children the right and wrong, when the parties to right and wrong keep changing every year. One who appeared to be an angel the previous year, has become a tyrant this year. Really – who cares to even decide what’s right and what’s wrong.