R E A D E R ‘ S R E V I E W – B O O K
Nazia Shamim Disha
Fragments of Riversong (Daily Star Books, 2013) is a fictional book written by Farah Ghuznavi. This book is a collection of twelve short stories. Each story is about Bangladesh and the lives of the people of this country―Bangladeshis. Ghuznavi has presented a few ordinary Bangladeshis and described their lives, but after reading each tale, you will find them extraordinary. Each of the stories revolves around the lives of Bangladeshis, the emotions they feel, the difficulties they face, the prejudices they have etc., and the way Ghuznavi has brilliantly expressed them in each of her stories make this book extraordinary. Ghuznavi has highlighted the lives of some Bangladeshi women who are living in a patriarchal society and have to face the problems in it.
Farah Ghuznavi told me to take a break after finishing a story. At first, I did that but later I could not. The stories are told in such a comforting manner that it was hard to read this book slow. Each story is easy to read but not easy to forget. Each story will take you to different places in Bangladesh ― be it a developed urban city or an undeveloped rural city, to a different household or a different life. While reading each story, it felt like I’ve known these characters and these are not stories, in fact, I can see them in front of me. It felt like this due to the circumstances the characters of each story from this book have to face. Almost everyone in our country has had to face these circumstances. Parents not wanting to pursue the career that their children want, polygamy, sexism, the challenges one has to face while being in their own country after growing up in foreign countries, child abuse, marriage expectations, etc. These circumstances are common in almost every household in our country.
Before getting this book, I had been reading books that are written by foreign writers. The environments where these characters lived, the emotions they felt, and the problems they faced were unknown to me. While reading them, I found them unrealistic because I didn’t grow up there and I don’t see these affairs happening around me. So, I couldn’t relate to those stories. However, Ghuznavi’s Fragments of Riversong is a book that consists of stories that are about the people of Bangladesh. And I can relate to each story. Although I’m still very young to face the situations that these characters of Fragments of Riversong have faced, I know about these situations. So, thanks to Farah Ghuznavi for giving me this great book before my birthday with a beautiful wish that you have written inside. You have inspired me to read more stories that are purely Bangladeshi. And you had also told me to let you know if I could figure out the cover of this book. And, I’ve figured out the cover. It looks like the people on the cover are holding hands to form the rough map of Bangladesh.
In the first story of this book, Getting There, I loved reading about how Laila finds a little bit of hope on an unplanned journey. When Laila is finally able to get out of her parent’s cage and fulfil her dream of becoming an architect and after living her life in the way she wanted, she finds herself in a situation that she didn’t think of before. Her elder sister had an accident so she decides to take care of her sister’s children and take them with her in Dhaka and gets to know a lot about her sister and her sister’s feelings about her and the hobbies that her sister had that she didn’t know before.
While reading the second story of this book, Old Delhi, New Tricks, I was craving for Dosas. I loved how Farah has beautifully and brilliantly written the fifth story of this book ― Waiting. In The Mosquito Net Confessions, I loved how Diya engages herself with the people of the village and everyone else around her through her interactions.
All the twelve stories of this book are brilliantly penned down and I loved all the stories in Fragments of Riversong but among them, my most favourite stories were: Getting There, Waiting, and The Mosquito Net Confessions.
Each of the stories amazed and inspired me. I recommend this book to every person in our country and also to the foreigners who want to know about Bangladesh and Bangladeshis.