The charm of fables and allegories made our childhoods memorable. When adept writers like Jonathan Swift employ the power of allegory to lay bare the human frivolities, books like Gulliver’s Travels become timeless. And if you thought gone are the days of such literary pieces, Sulaiman Ahmad’s a Tree on Its Head would be a pleasant surprise.
Yusuf, the protagonist, stays in a world where the ruler and his men are corrupt and greedy. While the royal brigade go around plundering, the innocent perish. Things take a turn for worse, as Yusuf loses everything, but acquires some magic seeds. He sows that wonder seed and his tree grows upside down, into the earth. He decides to climb down the tree that symbolises human progress.
On his journey he encounters different worlds. Each teaches something to Yusuf and to the reader. For instance, the world of disembodied voices demonstrates that when voices become one, the world can be lit up. Another world is Kala Deo which highlights racial discrimination. Then there is the mechanised world which lays emphasis on the fact that machines are supposed to make people’s lives easier. Too much dependence on machines at the cost of human beings can prove fatal. At the end of the story, Yusuf emerges as a more wise and tranquil person.
Ahmad’s is a delightful satire on human society, the greed that infests it and the deplorable situation that we have landed ourselves into. Replete with symbolism and metaphors, the allegory will be enjoyed by kids and the satire will appeal to the adult readers.
- Title: A Tree on Its Head
- Author: Sulaiman Ahmad
- Publisher: Supernova Publishers
- Price: INR 250