There was this huge book sales going around in the city. The crowd had a varied mixture of hip new gen, screaming kids, housewives and the socialites. The organisers would've made some real profits out of this .
I was there looking for a hot shot Mallu writer. He was young, NRI and his first book was such a huge hit. I even heard it was adopted into the curriculum by the university. I was on the lookout for that book.
I asked the salesman.
He pushed two into my hand ' He just released his second one . And its already a best seller.' I thought for a minute and finally picked them both.
Just out of my childish curiosity, I read the second one first. I was very much impressed and wrote a review on it.
Then I moved on to the first one ( the gross seller) - ' Adujeevitham', which can be roughly translated into ' Goat's Life'.
The book gives the first impression of a tragic novel out there to exploit the reader's tear glands. But a second look gives an impression of something more than sensitivity syndrome. You get a powerful feel of strong currents of human emotion , when he's cut off from human civilizations and made to fight against the bare nature.
Humankind always strived and prospered as a society. Even though man being a fragile as an individual , the society could tame the nature and bring it to its dominance. Even when we clamor against institutionalization and social degradation, we fail to understand that our survival depends entirely on standing together.
There is a dual backdrop the writer has chosen . The story first unfolds in Kerala where the Gulf boom only has started to set in. Najeeb who's just a casual laborer finds it difficult to raise his family. He's forced to search for a livelihood in Gulf, much against his own wish.
The writer being migrant himself would've been able to take a viewpoint much more realistic . The popular image of the gulf malayalee returning with a truck load of goodies is given a rest.
Having had to leave his hometown and a pregnant wife is a tough decision, or to put it in perspective, It's a humiliating decision. Man is destined / programed to find livelihood for his family. The moment he fails to do so , there starts his degradation. Which is more the less equivalent to degradation of his manhood.
Now unravels the second backdrop- The Arab countries which suddenly finds itself finding oil and wealth. The eager and meager ones migrating to an unknown land of unknown culture hoping to earn the daily bread. Najeeb finds himself waiting at the airport for someone he doesn't know and staring into an unknown future.
Meanwhile the author draws a parallel character along with protagonist, Hakkim. He's younger and doesn't have ant familial obligation. The young guy came over to the Gulf following his father's footsteps. He too lands along with Najeeb and waits for an unknown Arab but with youthful nonchalance.
Late into night an Arab comes picks them up and drives away into night. They are soon taken into an uninhabited land. A sense of danger lurks in mind when both of them are separated. He soon finds the nature of his job- a goat herd.
The ingenuity of the writer is reflected here. He portrays the dealings of the protagonist with three objects: the goats, desert and his predecessor.
Najeeb on his arrival, meets his predecessor. Najeeb can't understand the language of the man. He feels a revulsion to this man who doesn't bath or clean himself. He despises the man as a pre historic animal. But soon Najeeb finds himself turning into the man he despised. The man tries to escape and Najeeb finds his dead body later.
Then there's the magnificent desert. Although we find it barren and hot, Najeeb soon discovers it as habitat for a wide variety of beings. The desert reduces its inhabitants into rough people. I loved the part where he finds himself caught in rain and absolutely no shelter. The author deserve accolades for the way he vividly describes how an average guy from a lush, green place slowly comes into term with brown, hot the desert.
Thirdly, there are the goats. The protagonist , when he comes there first , sees a huge herd. He has a goat at home. But soon realizes taking care of a herd isn't the same. He grapples and struggles with them. Soon he becomes one of them. In absence of any human friend, they become his friends and relatives. Najeeb finds out that man is nothing but an animal .
Overall the book is a great read, but it deserves some serious reading into the middle. There are so many images the writer has used very well to give out the message.
I thanked God for my life after I finished it.