Weekend Reading

Recollections of books carried back and forth on the elevated train -- in a long-term, though belated, attempt to learn something about the world.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Anisul Hoque : Freedom's Mother



This story is more of a panegyric tribute to ideal heroes  than a modern novel.  There is no complexity - no character development -  no ambivalence.

Azad was a young participant in the Bangladesh War of Independence.who was arrested, tortured, and killed by the Pakistani army. Sofia Begum was his mother who never accepted or recovered from his disappearance.  She mourned him every day of the fourteen years she had left to live.

It's not hard to see Azad as a Romantic young fool, too immature to take even the simplest precautions as he enters into the life of an urban terrorist.   It's not hard to see his mother as a foolish old woman too proud to reimagine a new life for herself after her husband takes a second wife -- and then later --- after her son is killed.  All she can do is gradually sell off her jewelry and cook for her family and friends. Someone needed to tell her son that he was on a path to destruction -- and it was not going to be her. His father might have intervened - but she firmly rejecting having him back in their lives - despite his  repeated entreaty.

A reviewer, Robert Hutchison (is he the writer of popular books on Christianity?), tells us that "by her strength of character and incredibly dignity, Safia Begum offers an example for us all".  Sadly, this may have been the message that Anisul Hoque wished to convey,  bit this is the death-cult world of orthodox Islam.  Everybody's honor is preserved - but their lives, along with many others,  are lost.  In the end, the world is no better off - just more of same.

One might also note that the characters are apparently oblivious to the Bhola cyclone of 1970 and 300,000 to 500,000 people killed. Apparently honor was not involved.