~~~Dissected Life of Desert~~~
When sorrows fill our thoughts tears spill out. When life spill out from a book the reader get its tears. Benyamin's 'Aadujeevitham' (Life of Goat)is one such book which is full of life which spill tears from our eyes; which will fill our minds with thoughts, help us to appreciate the conditions we live in and look at life on a positive note. More than this, the book will raise the humanity in an individual to sympathise to a fellow human's suffering.
It was Gita Madhu who woke me up from the 'English reading' habit to turn Malayalam and spread news about good books. A determined parrot landed in the local book stall over, here, DC Books and asked, which is the best Malayalam books of recent years? The friend at counter told without a hesitation, 'if you are yet to read Benyamin's Aadujeevitham, read it'. Without asking another word, without even reading the cover I took the book and I am not disappointed. Thank you Gita, Thank you my friend at DC, Thank You Benyamin, 'Aadujeevitham' was an experience of a decade and more.
When mother India could not feed all her children it let go its precious sons and daughter out, searching for jobs. Hungry stomachs back home increased the suffering level of an average 'pravasi' (a person who stays away from home). With the inflow of quick money, the desert became a dream for many. There had days every youngster dream of going to 'Gulf' for job. (Earlier it was Colombo, before it was Malaysia and later it was Persia). The one who return from Gulf comes with all the fancy and their luxurious spending made the dream about 'gulf' as one in the heaven. Then, this is only a part of the story. There are many people who come to Gulf, cheated or otherwise and fall to the trap of heartless agents and merciless job providers.
Benyamin's hero, Najeeb is just a youngster recently married who too dreams of gulf with all the expectations of an average Malayalee. To work in a good environment, send money back home and bring luxury to an average household when the family pushes him for it he could not resist. In Gulf however he got trapped. He was drove to desert where he was assigned to look after sheeps and camels under a brutal 'arabab'. In a country where he does not know the language, places or people, he was far away from any human interaction. His days were the days of extreme sufferings. No proper food, no shelter no facilities for basic human needs, slowly and steadily he started identifying with the goats. He considered himself as one of them and his life one like of a goat. His dreams, desires, revenge, hopes - he identify all it with them. He talk to them, He eat with them, sleep with them and live the life of a goat. Still he kept a ray of hope which will bring freedom and end to sufferings some unknown day. A prophet may arrive one day! To the brutality of fellow human beings and wilderness of nature he had only one xavier, hope! Hope in life & hope in god. Together he takes up the fight and it was a journey worth traveling!
The story as told in the book is from the real life experience. The author interviewed and extracted best out of the person who suffered the life of Najeeb and mixed it with a lot of thoughts and imagination to makes it as a reading experience and positively different. At times we as readers can identify the author and the character as different. different, especially at places poetic humour is filled to show the irony of life. This does not take away the life or merit of the literary work but manifest the power of it.
The prose is simple which makes the impact more powerful. The book is a garland of emotions. One cannot read it without personally involve in the reading and feel for the characters. Yes, we feel not only for the central character but many of them. There is Hakkim an innocent teenager who travel together with Najeeb whose hope don't reach the shore, Hameed whose unlucky capture before a day of the release, a ghost look like person whose fate too will shake us with fear and sympathy at the same time, we even feel for the goats, yes I mean it. Personally speaking I too felt for the hard brutal 'arabab' the villain of the story. What life is of his?
The book leaves us in the middle of the desert and we see a world which is never heard before. Life of the desert opens before the reader to whom there is nothing left but to get astonished.
The book has an 'Alchemist' look at places and it borrows an idea or two from the 'Secret'. Then it will be wrong to say it got inspired from the Alchemist where Alchemist is a pleasant journey where 'Aadujeevitham' is a journey through the road of flames. If the book gets into the right publishing hands, it had the potential to become a world wide hit where not many booked are getting published in the world like this one which hits human mind so hard.
On the flip side I specifically notice two points. First the view from the author and from the character is little different and at places it contradict. The author in the end notes states that it was his dream to become a shepherd and this was injected into the character. At the same time, the lack of interest in goats was the strength of situation for the central character. When the author fixed his dream to the character it simply contradicted. If Najeeb had dreamed of becoming a shepherd he would have definitely observed goats before! The second point is that the final chapters of the novel was little bit rushed. Like a child who want to complete the home work fast to join the play mates just arrived the final chapters lack the restrained pace maintained earlier. Never mind! Small bridges of concrete are not good enough to stop the tsunami of emotional spill over!
The 212 pages book contains few goodillustrations as well which multiplies the effect. Great work byK Shereef!
The state award winning novel soon is expected to be a movie which if well made can be a turning point for Malayalam film industry. I look forward to get the book translated into other languages as well so that more people can share the experience.
The books cover says, 'all lives which we didn't experienced are fables for us'.One has to read the book to experience the pluses of it as words may fall short to explain it.