Sunday, January 22, 2012

Akhri Shab Kay Hamsafar

No one can hear a serene noise from the horses' hooves tapping on a paved road and no one can trap the time in the maze of the saree fabric except Qurutulain Haider (fondly called Ainy Apa).
Written in the backdrop of Bengal of 1942, when political awareness against the British rule was at its peak, Akhri Shab Kay Hamsafar by Qurutulain, explores all social segments undergoing the political awareness in that time. The story revolves around six young people who work for the socialist cause. These six people are young ambitious students who want to bring end to the imperial rule. The story explores the upper and middle class of the Bengal and problems facing them.
I have never seen any Urdu writer with such a strong command on story telling and a prolific attitude towards her work. The characters in the novel undergo a smooth transition. Yasmeen, who is the daughter of a narrow minded Maulvi sahib, becomes a dancer, marries a British person in the UK. Being a gay, her husband ditches her for a male and leaves her with a daughter to feed. Yasmeen goes from her stardom to oblivion that is obvious for most artists. Her daughter, whom she was unable to feed and up-bring, later turns into a nude model.
The transitions in the lives of all the characters are grave but very realistic. Haider's prose make you sway with it. She has not left any angle of life unexplored that young ambitious people have to encounter in their lives - crushes, love life, teenage romances, break ups, unforgettable first love and forceful compromise with the life. Haider's over-ambitious characters in the novel, who do not even dare to throw bombs on the ruling English elite in the Bengal, learn to compromise with their lives.
The beauty in Haider's approach is that her characters are eternal in context of the Subcontinent. This novel contains one character which is ideal for every reader. The characters don’t hide their social decadence either from their friends or readers. With a very deep observation and equally strong expression, Haider takes her readers along the story line of her novel.
Without any melodrama and sensation, the novel covers the life of at least three generations who somehow keep meeting similar social tragedies. Young women sacrifice their loves for their female friends. Materialism forces young characters in the novel to ditch their ideology. The best thing about this novel is that it touches the partition of the sub continent without any bloodshed. This is the first book that have saved me from the gory details of the bloodshed in the wake of the partition.
The novel also explores the budding economic and political life in the divided Sub-continent. I will recommend this novel to all those who claim to be over ambitious. Being an over ambitious person, I have learnt and unlearnt a lot from it. This novel will shatter the social ideology that the reader is nurturing in his or her mind.

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