Bangladesh has an interesting history and we all know it. Their struggle for freedom is something that that the world had witnessed far and wide. Post independence, Bangladesh had to deal with what every country has to go through.
Government is shaping itself up, people are migrating across the border & the people flocking its capital (Dhaka) post independence and the chaos, deaths, confusion and turmoil the followed.
Amidst all this, there were opportunists who tried to walk over people to make their mark in the society and there were some who really wanted to contribute towards the betterment of the society. The Black Coat by Neamat Imam deals with all this and a lot more.
It is an extremely intense tale of Nur Hussain, a villager who had come to the capital city of Dhaka and Khaleque Biswas, a journalist, who had recently lost his job.
Khaleque Biswas strongly felt that Sheikh Mujib is not able to live up to the promises he made when he sworn in as the Prime Minister of the newly formed Bangladesh.
He wanted to communicate this through the newspaper he was working for but the editor; Lutfuzzaman Babul did not allow him to do so, as going against Sheikh Mujib wouldn't have done any good to his newspaper. He terminates Biswas citing financial constraints as the reason.
Nur Hussain had already started living with Biswas before he was fired from his job. He had come from this village named Gangasagar and all he had was memories of his village.
After a certain point of time, Biswas lost interest in his talks. Then, one day, while Nur & Khaleque were walking across the neighborhood, Nur, out of nowhere, started speaking lines from Sheikh Mujib's speech that he had delivered at the time of independence. He spoke with the same passion that of Mujib.
Biswas realised that Nur has picked up the speech word-to-word from the cassette containing Mujib's speech that he used to listen almost daily.
After a bit of polishing and a makeover, Nur started looking like Sheikh Mujib and started giving the same speech in various parts of the city.
People flocked together to listen to him and the major portion of these people was poor and homeless people who used to give money to appreciate Nur's speech.
Nur started gaining popularity and was picked up by the local office of Sheikh Mujib's Awami League to say the speech for them now in exchange of good money which will take care of Khaleque's and his expenses.
Everything was going fine till the day, Nur was doing everything that he was asked to do and suddenly things take a U-turn when he refuses to stick to the script given to him.
The Black Coat is Neamat Imam's debut novel but I never felt so while reading it. The way he narrated the entire story had me gripped from the word go.
I couldn't put the book down while I was reading it. I could visualise Bangaladesh of the 70s through his words. His descriptions were vivid, intense and chilling.
Each and every character stood out in the book and I couldn't stop myself from judging them. Neamat Imam knows his craft and will definitely impress you with his writing. Definitely one of the best reads for me in recent times.
Publisher: Hamish Hamilton, Penguin India
Price: Rs 499/-