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Book Review

Piercing Stories

Jackie Kabir

Perek, a collection of short stories Jharna Rahman Oittijho Publishers

Minhazuddin felt the pierce of a Perek after he came across a one-legged person when his car waited at the intersections. His younger brother Zahirul was also one-legged. After his brother died during Bangladesh's war of independence, his mother could never forget the fact that one of her sons was dead. She waited for him for as long as she lived. This is the title story of the book Perek, a collection of short stories by Jharna Rahman. Most of her stories revolve around trivial everyday events, which are turned into powerful stories by Jharna's relentless playing with words. She defamiliarizes the very intimate and insignificant events that take place in our lives.

Perek is one of her most recent books. So strong is the visual effect of her language is that when we read the story “Perek” we can almost see the nail in Minhazuddin's head. There are nine stories in this book, three of which are about our war of independence. These stories are mainly about the after-effects of the war. The war that shaped our Bangali identity, the war that is the hub of our cultural and social activities. One aspect of Jharna's writing is her sheer craftsmanship. She makes her readers visualise the stories as though they are seeing a film on the screen. Socioeconomic problems are depicted aptly in a short story titled “Ekhane Kono Golpo Nei” and it tells the tale of a young woman's catharsis of emotion after a dead body was discovered in a sack. Seeing which, the police suspect that she might be related to the dead woman and thus they take her away in a pick up van.

“Gojar Pir”, a story with a strong theme, is about a Hindu woman disguising her identity in order to save her life in 1971. Amina comes to Jaheda's hut with a relative's family. She covered her head all times trying to be the pious wife of a Muslim man. One day Mozammel, Amina's husband got a big Gojar fish, which Jaheda, pregnant at an advanced stage, refused to lay her hands on. It was left to Amina to cut the fish. As she prepared to cut it her sari's end, which covered her head neatly, fell off and her crimson middle parting was unveiled revealing her identity to all who were in the yard. Her name was Bonolata and she left Jaheda's house right then only to be found dead in a pond some two miles away, where her body floated up three days later.

“Roth O Doiroth” is the story of our life, which has a double meaning, or something that pulls from both sides. And somehow it leaves us going round and round in eternal confusion. “Tahmina's Khopa”, is a lovely story about how far a woman would go in order to keep her spouse happy. A spouse who never expressed his distress all but once when she showed off her new hair cut to her husband by saying, “You also looked nice earlier!”' She was inspired by one of her younger colleagues who loved trying something new every now and then. We see a feminist Moumita and an old fashioned Tahmina's friendship.

Jackie Kabir and Jharna Rahman are members of Gantha.



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