Name of the book : An Arabian Dream
Author : Nikhil Ramteke
Publisher : Jaico Books
Price : Rs. 299/-
Reviewer : Aparna Prabhu
Aparna Prabhu is a third year student of Engineering. She considers herself a small time writer and a big time dreamer. Her write-ups have been published in online/print magazines like Womansera, Paperless Postcards, Indian Ruminations, Indus Woman Writing. She has also two anthologies published by ‘Moments Publishers’ and ‘Half Baked Beans’.
~ Review ~
Shijukutty, a Malayali fisherman has left his coastal roots and has migrated to the Middle East in order to provide a good future to his family. The sun not showing any mercy, beats him back and forth. Realizing that the life in the sand is no cake walk, he is brushed by waves of nostalgia of his fisherman life. By the course of time, he makes peace with his pre-written destiny. He is burdened by the baggage of memories and longs to reunite with his kin by the each passing day.
The author has shown his proficiency in language and vocabulary. The descriptions of the conditions of the workers are heart wrenching and at times make you numb. The cultural diversity on the streets of Gulf countries surprised me. The plight of the people who belong to the lower strata of society has been aptly summed up in words. There is no over the top romance brewing or usual clichés; just hard-hitting reality.
Thousands of people predominantly from Kerala throng to the Middle East lured by the lucrative employment opportunities that await them. The book has exposed the illicit functioning of employment agencies. These agencies con the innocent people by charging deftly for visa under the pretext of employment. The people end up in getting comparatively less pay than what is mentioned in the contract.
Middle East wouldn’t have seen the light of the day, if it wasn’t for the construction workers. They toil hard under the sweltering heat, earning measly wages. Tucked amidst the monolithic glass structures there are tens of labour camps housing thousands of workers living in pitiable conditions. The labourers are deprived even of basic life essentials such as hygienic food, clean water and health care facilities.
Even though the plot moved at a snail’s pace, I didn’t get bored. My curiosity piqued at every level to know the stories of the labourers. The narrative could have been laced with humour during conversations among the workers to tone down the serious mood to some extent.
‘An Arabian Dream’ is a story of dreams and ambitions woven by the Indian working class in the clouds of a foreign land. It is the tale on the plight of the workers hidden in the veil of Middle Eastern lustre. This book is an ode to all artisans who work tirelessly every single day braving all odds in their life.