We counted more on this country than the rest of the world. Dubai was our Island of Hope, where the flotsam and jetsam like us from distant shores washed up.
Early this year I received tons of books from Write India publishers and The 365 Days by Nikhil Ramteke was one among them. I began reading this book for BookTubeathon 2018 and DNF it. So I recently picked it up and finished it in one go.
The book of 178 pages weaves an entire world within it’s pages. A strong and sensitive world at that. The novel follows the story of Shijukutty, a Malayali fisherman, who flies to Dubai in hopes of repaying his debts. He isn’t the first Malayali to do so. We all, at some point in our life, have come across a Malayali who with much gusto boasts about being a “Gulf return”. However, what we are not told is the terrible living condition the dreamland offered them.
I remember how during college days we would tease our Malayali friend after a song called, ” I am a Malayali I wear a big lungi”, this song especially resonates now because it had lyrics which said how common it is to find a Gulf return Malayali. It may sound quite inspiring to be a “Gulf return” but like I mentioned earlier we never can fathom the terrible time a labourer faces in the city. We, in this novel, deal with the less privileged, Shijukutty and those like him, who travel to Dubai, only to find themselves being duped by a lucrative offer.
The writing style is honest and bares it all. It doesn’t disguise the rueful situation a labourer is in. All the questions, pertaining to the lifestyle of a man who is far away from his ‘wife’ and family, gets answered in every chapter of this book. The writing is smooth and engaging. You become involved with character and start seeing Dubai from his perspective. I believe, such a tale hasn’t been written about before. It’s fresh and an eye opener. The chapters are kept short and deal with different episodes from the protagonist’s life. I loved how towards the end, the author leaves a succinct one liner after every chapter which is more like a reflection on the life of a Dubai based labourer in it’s entirety. And these one liners are hard hitting.
There are no revolutions in the desert.
In the desert, there is no telling the real from the mirage.
I loved these one liners a lot. The writing is smart. Towards the climax, the author builds another climax by going back in time. Now, that’s something I loved a lot. The way Shiju’s innocence, angst, longing and hate is presented it makes us empathize with labour class.
Overall, I think it’s a not a cliche story that you will find here. And makes a good read.
Publishers: Write India Publisher