My recent reads have always been a collection of what I read over a month or so, but I just finished a book that needs a special mention and I am dedicating a post for it. This is not an English book, but Malayalam (which is also my mother tongue).
The book is called “Aadujeevitham” by Benyamin which is translated to English as ‘Goatlife’, or more clearly “A Goat like life”. I am not sure how many of the people who regularly read my blog has had a chance to work amidst the desert sand dunes in the Middle Eastern oil rich countries.
They would be able to better relate to this book and for those who have not worked there, it would be a sure eye opener in terms of how life, freedom and existence are defined, executed by a set of unrealistic hands made by both fate and law.
I have had a part of my schooling as well as the opportunity to work there for two years and my home state in India has a good number of people who work in the Middle Eastern countries ranging from laborers, house servants, construction workers, teachers, doctors, engineers and business tycoons. Among them also are found the characters of “Aadujeevitham” who get into a job they never really understand how they landed and before they know the desert would have washed clean any traces of past life in them.
Nowhere in life have I found such a disparity among immigrant population, people with the power to dictate life to people who can’t even decide if they are free or enslaved. Such a vast gulf between the standards of work and life of people coming to work from the same state itself is an area worth exploring.
I have not come across people in the exact similar state of affairs as the central character in the book, but people whose stories converge with the book in many areas. People I met in early eighties as a school boy in these places and then in the 90s when I went to work there. I take this post to also thank my work sponsor/company or “Arbab or savior” as they call, who did not keep my passport and I had the freedom to travel. Many who read this should understand that even in large companies, they had this system of taking the passport of every employee and then having control over their fate and freedom. I am not sure if it is like this even now. I still cannot fathom how someone in a country can hold the passports of the citizen of another country when the passport is the property of a nation and not its citizen. But some places rules are different and many live with it.
I personally know of people who have stories to say about not being able to leave the country to escape from harsh job conditions to get back to their own soil ready to live poor, but yet free and happy. Aadujeevitham is a true story of someone who went through much harsh situations than what I have ever heard before and it opens the box with a million questions on what does being a human mean to us and how are we different compared to that of the goats and other slaughter animals.
Though not religious myself, I found it interesting to see the central characters calling out to god almighty all through the book, not even once deflecting from his faith. I don’t know if there is someone who saves and punishes, but in the book I could see that if he did not have someone to call even in his imagination, he would have lost all his sanity. I think the belief in something has a big part to play in keeping the balance and sanity of life. People need God, philosophy, spirituality, conviction, love or something like that, something that would be at least an imaginary handle that they can hold and tie your mind to. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who has not read and for those who have read, a request to not take life for granted any more…..