Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Review-Shamsuddin's Grave by Paromita Goswami



Latika's wrecked personal front leaves her completely shattered. So when her ailing father reveals his desire to go back home, she doesn't think twice and moves to her hometown. She joins an NGO and comes across a teenager rape victim. Much against her TL, Debjyoti's wish she sets out to trace the girl with Shamsuddin's help. Will she succeed or end up in big trouble?

Shamsuddin, a daily labourer, somehow manages to thrive in the city. Meanwhile, flood devastates his house in the village. His family takes refuge in a relative's place where his wife has a tough time resisting to the advances of her brother-in-law. Can Shamsuddin arrange for an accommodation before it is too late? 

Set in Guwahati amid the backdrop of flood and ethnic turmoil, "Shamsuddin's Grave", is the story of migration towards big cities for a better life.

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Read an excerpt

It was 2.00 a.m. in the morning and Kalapahar woke up to the cries of people. People didn’t know what was going on. There was no electricity and all they heard were the cries of women, children and men for help. Stampede of people running across the roads towards the uphill area shouting for help. 
 Latika too woke up hearing the cries. She switched on her night lamp but there was no electricity. She stepped down from her bed and landed into knee deep water soaking her pyjamas. Terrified, she reached for the torch on the night table and switched it on. She was traumatized to find her room flooded. The water level almost reached her bed wetting the mattress. She didn’t waste time and waded through the water to check on her father’s room. It was similar situation there too, with the only difference that the old man was sound asleep due to medication. She woke him up and went to check the other rooms. 
It was similar sight all around. Dining chairs, gas cylinder, utensils, tables everything floating across the rooms. She turned off all the switches and whatever valuables she could lay her hand upon, she collected in a bag. Then she pulled a chair on top of her father’s bed and made the old man sit on it with the bag. She checked the water level outside through the glass window with the hope of evacuating the house. But it was worse and riskier to wander out with an old man in flood water at night. She knew she could not make it. 
Help was unreachable as of now, as everyone was fending for themselves. She heard the neighbors crying for help but no one listened. Even the cell phone network was jammed. She knew she could not do anything but wait. At last she pulled a chair on the bed and sat down beside her father clenching his hands in hers. Both prayed eagerly for all this to be over. 

My Review :

               Shamsuddin’s Grave – the story of homeless; the title itself speaks of volumes.

               As the title suggests the story is of Shamsuddin’s struggle for existence, from birth till death and even after death. But the story is not only of Shamsuddin but also of Latika and partly of Snehlata, both of whom play a major role in Shamsuddin’s life.

               Shamsuddin is a poor farmer born in a village near Guwahati. Frequent floods, lack of facilities, illiteracy and proper documents all makes it difficult for Shamsuddin to meet two ends. After having facing poverty, he decides to come to city to earn money. Does he succeed in settling in life?

            “ Farishte (Angels) come to take the good souls to “Jannat” (Heaven) while “Shaitaan” (demons) comes to take the bad souls to “Jahannum”(Hell)”.

               Latika, having gone through personal trauma of broken marriage, tries to finds solace by working for an NGO. Snehlata, in whose barn Shamsuddin takes refuge for 10 years, defies all norms of society and allows a Muslim man inside a Hindu household. Shamsuddin considers these two women as his God send angels, who take care of him, even when his family refused to acknowledge his existence, even when he is on his death bed.

          “A sweet dream that evoked the feeling of need in her, need of companionship, feeling of being in love,  feeling of longingness. She only had a vague memory of opening the door for someone.”

               The story mainly depicts the hardships a Muslim faces in India, where they are branded as illegal immigrants or Bangladeshi, inspite of the fact that they have been staying in India since generations.  Lack of education, proper documents, frequent floods, political apathy all make matters worse for such people, who come and get vanquished but no one notices or cares about them except during elections.

               Language used is simple and easy to understand, loved the cover picture which is apt for the novel. Paromita having stayed in North east, have nicely etched the lives, their difficulties, the places etc, taking into considerations all the details.

               Along with other quotes these two quotes say a lot…

 “A place of his own in this big city. No matter if it was his own grave.”

Why is it so hard to find peace even after death in these big cities?

Shamsuddin’s Grave is Paromita’s debut novel. But still she has done a good work. Paromita has done a good job by bringing forth all the problems a labourer faces. The turmoil Shamsuddin faces, throughout his life journey and even after his death is heart touching. Not only Shamsuddin but Latika and Snehalata’s life, their struggles and all are well depicted.

If you want to do some serious, soul searching reading Shamsuddin’s Grave is one. 

About the author

Paromita Goswami

A nomad at heart and a rebel by choice is the best way to describe her. Paromita Goswami had always believed in making her own path. She says life is full of stories that are waiting to be told. 

Author of Shamsuddin’s Grave, published in 2015, an offbeat social drama based on critical social issue, Paromita Goswami loves to write about life and relationships. She has written many short stories for online magazines. Her upcoming works are, Grow Up Messy, is a humorous collection of short stories of a mischievous five year old girl. The book is a ride down the childhood days.  It was part of blogging challenge, #atozchallenge2016 and second is The Jungle Series, a collection of short stories #paranormal, based on the jungles of Chhattisgarh.

Besides writing she is also the founder of Raipur Little Minds Book Reading Club that has a major objective of developing the book reading habit in children. She is also the founder of Book Studios that makes book trailer, book covers and banners. Making travel documentary is her other passion.

Paromita is married and lives in Raipur with her family including her pet cat and dogs.  She loves to connect with her readers and can be easily traced on all social media sites.

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