Author Murtaza Razvi
Publisher Harper Collins:
About Murtaza Ravi (1964-2012)
The introduction to Murtaza Razvi on the title page of the book says 1964-2102, I do not know if it is in competent proof reading or a reflection of the author’s agelessness.
The book opens in the not so perfect of Shieku and Rani. Set in the changing society of Pakistan.
The novel is at a much laid back pace allowing the reader to visualize, contemplate and to a certain extent even experience the book.
The book could be the experience of sixties born person in the big fat neighborhood of Pakistan that is what the author calls us! Through the book the author recreates the character of cities and towns.
The describes the celebration of Nauroze the Persian new year a celebration that went on for 13 days, one colour for each day until all the thirteen colours were covered. To me nauroze was the festival of the Parsi community and was divorced from Islam.
As Shieku presents his lineage linking him to the Persian Syed’s he talks of his Nani, the maternal grandmother. She would probably be as old mine, as he describes her penchant for smoking Craven’s cigarettes, I remember my own grandmothers more liberal view than my mothers, who like Shiekhu’s mother is all about being the conventional Hindu daughter-in-law.
The book is memoir of a fading genteel Pakistani life to the more aggressive and ugly way of life inspired by America. The more westernized open lifestyle of Karachi Muslims, at people has the tendency of hating the majority who rule.
The author talks about a pre-independence Bangladesh, which was East Pakistan, where his father started his career. With the Bangladesh becoming independent there was the second influx to Pakistan, and an interesting observation that he makes here, the way people tended to hate the majority who ruled.
Another really relevant observation is seen in the story Uncle Tom and Gavi, that the concept of wife is basically a governess who doubles a wife.
In the memoir of Lala’s death he talks of how city life and education has taken away our more tolerant and natural response and reaction.
When talking of the big bad city of Karachi focuses on the subtle observation of a so called tolerant society, and how people inquired about religious, ethnic, political affiliation before fraternizing, use of words that subtly differentiated the Muslims from non-muslims. Returning to roots is also unsettling as the familiar is familiar but yet unfamiliar.
Pittho’s is just a symbolic representation of a bygone Pakistani society, Murtaza uses the traditional storytelling technique of introducing the character before letting him or her manifest, like he talks of Lala in Pittho’s world and gives his story in Lala’s death.
The book is a reflection of changing moral and ethical values resulting in a changing society. Sheiku’s experience at college. The college at Lahore addressed its students as “Great Ravians” by the faculty which he claimed was very empowering he actually uses a similar notice one from Lahore and one from Karachi College and brings out the difference.
The book reaches its end, with the islamization of Pakistan which the author credits to CIA. And the transition of a tolerant, gender equal open society to a gender segregated closed society. Suddenly the Sari which as a favourite wear of the Pakistan woman became Hinduà that is Indian. Good morning and goodbye were replaced by Khuda hafiz and assalm aleikum.
As Murtaza Razvi says “I have nothing to talk about all has been said.” The book is the collective tale of the subcontinent.
The book was a complimentary copy sent by Harpar Collins for reviewing.