Ahtesham-Grunebaum-Stark’s The Tale of the Missing Man: a Dāstāṃ of a Bhopālī Lāpatā
Abstract: Mazoor Ahtesham is a renowned writer in the modern Hindi literature. He is one of the fewMuslim voices in the modern Hindi literary canon.2 He gives a detailed picture of the Muslim society, which is undergoing a change within and, at the same time, is confronted by the change outside. Although, his cosmology is culturally Muslim, but his characters are like any other characters of the world literature. They go through the same torment of insecurity, helpless in the ever changing surrounding. Manzoor’s texts are complex, ornated and multi-layered. It takes time and passion to peal the layers after layers. The Tales of The Missing Man is his favourite novel, and he showed his mastery in structure and subject matter in this masterpiece. It is a metafictional mock memoir of a mock romance hero. It is called a metafiction because ‘’the novelist attempts to show the novel from the inside out so that the creative process itself is exposed’’. 3 The mock undertone keeps this structurally complicated novel in one piece. It novel may be named as a local topographical novel where the protagonist loses and finds peace in the space of the lake city Bhopāl.One may call it as author’s commentary on present India which goes through rapid metamorphoses. New supermarkets have been built at the site of the protagonist’s childhood heaven. Peaceful people have been forced to choose between the extremist’s opposites. There is less and less room for the peaceful go -between people who have been left behind from the progressive drive. They are fed with extremism and fanatism. The fanatics dismantle the multicultural, multireligious existence of India. The author propagates Sufism and disgustsany extremism which threatened the peaceful coexistence of the Hindu and the Muslim communities in India. It is interesting and as well as a great opportunity for the readers to share the Muslim perspective to look at the different political changes in India while they read the novel. The book must have been thought in Urdu but written in Hindi so the language in the book plays a significant role to place it in the Hindi mainstream literary canon. The tale of the bystander Zamir achieves a sense of belonging to the non-urdu readers through Hindi language. It is not exotic anymore but at the same time, it does not lose the attraction of the unrevealed. Grunebaum-Stark did not leave any stone unturned to present the best of this novel to the English readers. The language of the novel is smooth and easy and simultaneously, not feeble to bear the weight of the original language of the novel.Structurally, it is a circular novel. The readers start at the present and go through the memories and come back to the present again. The author does not give a definite answer but invites the readers to find their own answer.
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