Friday, July 27, 2012

New Trends in Malayalam Novel: Reading "Aadujeevitham"

The novel Aadu Jeevitham by Benyamin foregrounds the life experience of the Malayalees in the Arabian countries through the shared experience of the life of the central character, Najeeb. For us, the image of Gulf countries often correlates with big buildings and luxurious life style. We often hear stories of fortune attained by many people and more and more of us are tempted to get to that ‘heaven’ once in a life time. The novel demystifies these generalised ideas about the Gulf countries and foregrounds the dark sides of mass migration and exploitation. My attempt in this review is not to discuss such sociological aspect of the novel, but just to mention the philosophical side of the experience of the central character. Throughout the work, we can see that the central character experiences the hardship more or less alone. Yet, throughout the story, an unknown power follows the character and helps him to confront the exploitation. A religious reading of it can chalk out the presence of an all powerful God in the life of each and every one of us.
Michael Bakhtin developed the idea of “dialogism” to show the importance of dialogue in a multi-cultural society. He interpreted ‘dialogue’ as an interaction “between mind and world”. The existence of humans is possible only through ‘dialogue’ and the absence of it will lead to death. As far as the structurality of the novel is concerned, it is not about dialogism as it does not focus on “hetroglossia(multiple voices)”. On the other hand, we can hear only one voice, the voice of the author. It goes to the extent that the voice of the author and the voice of the central character merge into one unified whole; a nullity of multiple voices. If we deal with the philosophical dimensions of the existence of the central character, it shows the significance of dialogism through its absence. From the beginning of the life of Majeed in the Gulf itself, he was prevented from any human contact; the only companions were the sheep that he was supposed to look after and his Arbab. As far as the character of Arbab is concerned, he is not talkative, and not at all humane in his relation with Majeed. Besides, language acts as a barrier between them.
Even in this complete absence of ‘dialogue’, Majeed manages to adapt to the changes because in the absence of linguistic dialogue, a psychological dialogue is possible for him. He communicates with the sheep, names them and at one particular situation, has sex with one among them. In his physical absence from his family and relatives, he had an exceptional relation with the sheep, so he names them as his acquaintances. He communicates with the sheep, to himself, to the god. It is this dialogue with his inner self, with the god, or even the non-human entities that made existence possible for Majeed. In the absence of dialogue, no life exists.
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