A review by: Wasim Ahmad Alimi
Wasim Ahmad Alimi
“Populated by inhabitant human beings but desolate villages,
Facts full of delusions,
The jumping conscience,
The blood is all around here,
The bleeding mankind,
Also, the bleeding words.”
(Lafzon Ka Lahoo)
Lafzon Ka Lahoo (The Bleeding Words) by Salman Abdus Samad is a debut novel about the exploitation of young women at workplaces and evils created by the sold journalism. The novel was originally written in Urdu but has been translated in Hindi as well. The young novelist is a research scholar at JNU. First edition was published in July 2016 and now its 3rd edition is in market which is enough to show the positive impacts made by the book among its target readers.
When I started reading this novel, I was a little disappointed because the story was quite slow in its beginning but gradually, I realised that all the characters were well-connected.
The novel portrays the inner emotional world of Naila, Zanaira and Neela who are the victims of the society. The struggle and outcome of the female protagonists are actually the base of this novel. The novel imposes an impression of controlled journalists and journalism in the democratic scenario. The story revolves around Mohsin who goes to Saudi Arabia to earn his living and his two wives, Zanaira and Naila whom he left here in India.
Media in the mirror of Lafzon Ka Lahoo:
It is clear by the story that almost all the characters have somehow a relation with journalism and hence they are very angry and concerned about the decline of free and fair journalism.
Akmal Khan who is presented in the novel as a double standardbred journalist is the man who actually ruined the life of his loyal and faithful employee, Mohsin. When Mohsin, under supervision of Akmal Khan, joined ‘Daimi Parwaz’ he was hopeful about his career in the field of journalism and therefore he was giving his best. But Akmal Khan got complete advantage of his innocence by not paying salary. Finally, Mohsin had to quit the job and go abroad. Read the first nostalgic latter of Mohsin from Saudi to his wife:
When I crossed the border of my country, I felt like I also have left the entire humanity behind……. I think I won’t be able to see the shadow of a single human here.
The soil of this land is not familiar. ………The thing you were afraid of has occurred here, I have been assigned here for what I was not hired. ………… let’s see by when it will continue. It is better not to disclose the details of my work Naila! Take care of you both.
(Lafzon Ka Lahoo, pg 84, 85)
The writer has studied the characters of media persons very closely. As a millennial Mr Salman has decided to reveal all the evil doings of those journalists who blackmail the newcomers. Inside him the great anger is burning. Just go through this online chat between Mohsin and Naila:
“Not the fortune of owners, how does the wealth of journalists increase, and finally who is to make the owners fortunate?
Physical relationship is too much required there!
What is the use of killing conscience without any cost!
I need nothing more to make you understood.”
Naila replies to Mohsin:
I am sorry for my thoughts. Mohsin! I have reached to this conclusion.
Media is playing a vital role in separating one religion from other, still it is far away from religion?
Media is in front to propagate the political filths, still it is separated from politics?
Media is foremost to spread partiality and discrimination, still it is considered the tallest flagbearer of impartiality and tolerance?
Without physical relationship the job is not secure, still it is supposed the protector of women rights?
How blessed this media is! It is so sacred!”
(Lafzon Ka Lahoo, pg 95)
Media, the fourth pillar, is always considered the defender of democracy. But once it is controlled by any political influence, it started losing its dignity. Mr. Salman writes in the same context:
“The shining cars,
The adorable women,
And the words dipped in the bad smelling panties of media,
And hereditary monopoly of media over words.”
(Lafzon Ka Lahoo, pg 62)
Psychology of women has been the interest of novelists since a long time. Mr Salman Abdus Samad is no exception. He also has depicted the mental characteristics and attitude of Naila and Zanaira in his novel. Surprisingly, Mr Salman is a young fiction writer who has not spent much time reading feminist literature but he has expressed the griefs and pleasures of women very writerly and beautifully. Sometimes he seems to be a male feminist in his novel. He has focused on the social, economic and political issues of women all throughout their lives. Whenever co-wives of Mohsin, Naila and Zanaira argue with each other at their home, a reader can get the apparent clues about female behaviours. See the following paragraph in the same context:
“A woman does not like the appreciation of her fellow woman, but she begins to behave like a jealous. This very emotion of rivalry leads towards the extreme encounter of co-wives.”
(Lafzon Ka Lahoo, pg 110)
Much Before The #MeToo Movement:
The #MeToo movement against sexual harassment of women at workplaces started in October 2017 across the world. Mr Salman finished his novel 15 months before this global movement. The novel seems to be a protest against sexual harassment of women at workplace. The resistance is clear where Rastogi and his fellow doctor are caught red-handed in their cabins and sent to jail by the long efforts of Neela who once was harassed in the same cabin by the same doctor when she was serving as a nurse in the same hospital. It was not an emotion of revenge by her but a responsibility to save other nurses from the grip of the double standard and hypocrite doctors.
The novel does not draw out the sexual offenses made by the privileged class giants only, but also paints the molestations committed by the less privileged male. Here is a glimpse of a scene when Naila was coming back to her home by an auto after saying good bye to Mohsin at IGI airport:
“The gaze of auto driver was trying to uncover her dupatta over the bouncing breasts. In the middle of the half open exposed cleavage, a little above, just beneath her chin, there was a mole reflecting in the front mirror of driver. It was looking like a black marble fixed into white clay. When Naila laid her angry eyes into the eyes of driver he returned his eyes towards the road and paid his complete attention to drive. Thus, Naila celebrated this little joy for her success.” (Lafzon Ka Lahoo, pg 18)
In Search of Unity:
The novel is not all about urban life. The story is mixed and composed with the common lives of rural and urban characters. In the second last chapter where the fire burnt the dwells of poor villagers, their ripening crops and some of their beloveds, the writer tries to capture the unity he sees into their hot tears rolling down their cheeks:
“Amid those cries and uproars, Naila was unable to find out that single one drop of tear which reflects only the grief of own relatives. Naila found those heavy drops of tear free from all partial colours. She realised that those tears were enough to extinguish all the fire that is burning the humanity across the world.”
(Lafzon Ka Lahoo, pg 204)
I feel myself fortunate to write about such a piece of literary work, so full feelings and emotions, symbolism and deep characterisation. Looking forward for another book of fiction by Mr Salman Abdus Samad. Both, the Urdu and Hindi versions of the novel can be ordered online at amazon.in.
Wasim Ahmad Alimi is pursuing his Master’s degree in Jamia Millia Islamia (central University) New Delhi. He is the translator of novel, ‘Long Wait’. He also has translated O Henry’s stories, ‘After Twenty years. and ‘Last Leaf’ in Urdu. Sometimes he writes humour and satire.
E-mail: [email protected]