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Not quite a liquid refreshment

A sea of characters and emotions. But shallow storylines leave Killing The Water high and dry, writes Sanjib Kumar Baruah.

books Updated: Oct 21, 2011 20:30 IST
Sanjib Kr Baruah

Killing The Water
Mahmud Rahman
Penguin
Rs 250 pp 201

Despite disparate outer wrappings, all human emotions like tragedy, laughter and happiness sound — and feel — the same. From Altaf in ‘City Shoes in the Village’, who sets sail in a self-made motorboat to seek out his childhood years drowned in Dhaka backwaters, to the loneliness in Zakaria Brown’s life in uptown San Francisco Bay area, Mahmud Rahman, in his debut book Killing the Water, takes readers through a gamut of emotions without disturbing their oneness.

Rahman creates a panorama of vivid, yet disparate, characters in his 12 stories, some of which are ordinary fare. The title story, ‘Killing the Water’, presents a politically correct statement on the environmental concerns of the day. But it tends to get boring after a while.

However, Rahman shines with his ability to factor in culture and

surrounding paraphernalia that accompany all his characters. His narratives blend in beautifully with the distinctive traits of his dramatis personae. This makes the journey from an Indian hinterland to urban elite circles of Dhaka, and much further to the US, a pleasant one.

Be it describing murderous mobs — the writer’s experience of Bangladesh’s War of Liberation in the 70s seems to be the inspiration — or escaping the wrath of the Whites in the dark alleys of Boston, Rahman remarkably blends different cultures.

Killing the Water could have been better, as the writer definitely seems to have more potential than what comes across in these 200-odd pages.

Some powerful storylines would have also worked wonders for Rahman.