Cover Story : A Selection of Twelve Remarkable Books
Pictures of Human Plight in Imdadul Haq Milan’s Novellas
Dulal Al Monsur
Imdadul Haq Milan encompasses a vast experience of middle class Bengalis: dreams, struggles, vigor, hopes, disappointment, failure, patriotism, love and other experiences occupy the realms of his creation. Most of his novels deal with serious social issues which generally demand specific attention from the curious mind. The touch of his dexterous hand adds lucrative appearance to many fuscous elements of life. Several of his novels have risen to the status of Bangla classics through the opinions and judgment of connoisseurs. Of course, he has also been able to garner up the support of the popular mind. Up to this time, his oeuvre following just a single trajectory has been successful in getting seriousness and popularity jelled to each other. His ated style portrays a variety of life in this country; often this life is shifted to farther away from the geography of Bangladesh. Such life has been presented in two novellas named Bondage and Exile.
Bondage, the first of the two novellas, depicts the wretched plight of several young people who have left Bangladesh for Germany in search of a regular earning, or at least a stable source of livelihood in that country. However, in real sense, they have to sacrifice a lot for the sake of money. Living there, they have to live in an impasse from where they cannot find any way out. They can at best blow off steam against the systems of that country, and they can curse their own lot while they are at rest at their respective places of living.
Reality of circumstances of that country creates an unbearable pressure on the body and mind of Lalan, the protagonist of Bondage. He cannot find a job suitable to his educational status even though he has completed MA from Bangladesh. Moreover, he has an extra pressure from his family members who wait eagerly for his monetary help. For that reason, he has to turn himself parsimonious with severe continence. His transparent mentality is directly influenced by his family members, his beloved at home and his compatriots in Germany. For example, the exposition of dissatisfied demands of his family members and the pangs of geographical separation from his beloved constantly create scars on his heart.
One of the most poignant events that he stores in his experience is the news of death of a compatriot named Wahid. Once Lalan and his friend Muneem come to know from Wahid that he has passed nine months being unable to eat rice; he has to reside at a hotel where rice is not available. Lalan recollects the scene once they three were passing some time together when Wahid had to leave earlier for his duty:
I watched Wahid noting once again his frail, broken health. There was nothing I could do. When one lived abroad, one was constrained by the rules of the place. There was no way I could invite Wahid over for a meal. I lived in an apartment building where the other tenants were three young German girls. Guests were allowed only on weekends, and if Wahid were seen at my place two days in a row, the landlord would first object, then seek the help of the police to throw me out. It was out of the question for me to risk losing my room. So, I could do little other than let out a sigh of sympathy for Wahid.
Wahid has been able to redress the balance of life through his death, but Lalan is still gripped in helplessness and suffers much to keep his rectitude intact.
The novella Exile also has Germany as its setting. Abdullah, the protagonist of this novella, undergoes several crucial experiences during his living in Germany. He loses his jobs several times, and he cannot get a suitable place to reside at. He has to tolerate the humiliation of staying with a group of rustic and truculent Pakistani workers. Those tykes do not show due respect to him though he pays right to stay there. In course of the storyline the reader comes to know that Abdullah has come to Germany being trapped in a conspiracy against him when he has just flourished as a teacher up to the position of the principal of his college.
In spite of the arid atmosphere of the foreign land, his heart does not get bereft of emotion for his nearest and dearest ones back in his own country. In course of his experiences in that arid land he fortunately finds at least one person named Frau Mann, a kind hearted lady whom he, at the exuding emotional moments, considers a motherly person. However, even being blessed with a soft human heart, she fails to extrapolate his decision point-blank to leave Germany when he has a gripping apprehension of being punished for false allegation against him.
What has made this novella remarkable is the writer’s efforts to create a juxtaposition of two episodic elements very close to each other. Of course, those elements seem to be one in their seamless existence in the flow of the novella. Those two elements are Abdullah’s present life as a cleaner at Holiday Inn and his past life with his family members back in the country.
Anyway, Abdullah takes decision to leave that country and come back to Bangladesh. He does not change his decision even though Frau Mann tries to encore him to stay more. She asks him:
“Won’t they put you in jail the moment you enter your country?”
“Perhaps,” Abdullah smiled. “But right now going to jail in my country is preferable to staying here. I am going home.”
The two novellas have their respective and different subject matters, but they have many things in common. The most common thing they deal with is human plight in different milieus and varying ambiences. The novelist’s prolific pen has created many other realms of human experiences during his oeuvre from different points of view, and these two novellas have the importance of being two of the earlier examples of his dexterous hand.
These novellas have been translated by Saugata Ghosh, edited by Arunava Sinha and published by Bengal Lights Books.
Dulal Al Monsur : Writer