As the author prepares the paranormal backdrop for his narrative to spring out of graves at the very start of the book, you get biographies woven together into a single fabric that is free from all hindrances of normalcy. The nomadic narration is the soul of Dozakhnama. Stories start at one point and sprout in various stories. History and Fantasy mingle to create an unique blend of language. But then undoubtedly that’s the language the two legendary literary figures Mirza Ghalib and Manto would have loved to talk to each other in.
When Mirza Ghalib and Manto who are quite apart from each other in life and death by time and distance, meet on the common ground of literature to share their experiences, the ground realities of Indian history chapters like Mughal rule, British invasion, Sepoy mutiny, Partition take shape from the point of view of a poet and a story writer who lived through those times and weren’t much appreciated while they were still living.
Dozakhnama gives us tales of tortured souls told in an innovative way. Though originally written in Bengali by Rabisankar Bal and translated in English by Arunava Sinha, the effect of the original seems to have come through. I cannot know how effective the original must have been due to my language barrier but the English translation doesn’t seem lost in what it wants to convey. Garnished with witty lines and Ghalib’s poetry, Dozakhnama is a one of those books that you come across only once in a while. Personally I think Indian and Pakistani readers will be able to relate to Dozakhnama in a better way than readers from other countries because of the shared culture and history. Having said that Dozakhnama is still a journey worth taking.
“He who cannot leave his home and go out on the road will never find happiness.”