(MeraWatan feature published in the official newsletter of Sharjah International Book Fair 2011)
MeraWatan : A Tale of Twin Love
THE COOL BREEZE FROM HIND, originally published from New Delhi, India, is a spiritual travelogue across the South Indian state of Kerala. It cuts through the passage of time, the spread of geography and the demarcations of demography to describe humanity in a vein seldom explored before. The first-person narration in English – the language of expatriation – is gleamed further by Arabic, the author’s language of spirituality, and Malayalam, his language of own heritage.
In many ways, it marks the coming of age of a new sense of identity – that of the expatriate mind shaped by total devotion to one’s homeland and an equal loyalty towards his adapted soil – that is yet to be recognized at large. The book also has many significant mentions about the cultural and architectural legacy of the emirate of Sharjah.
The plot is based on the narrative of a UAE-grown Indian youth about his discovery of the historic and ethnic roots of his homeland. The narrator, educated and brought up in Sharjah, interprets his experiences in the backdrop of the cultural glory of the emirate of Sharjah.
This mystic narrative in rhythmic prose has three aspects. Firstly, it introduces a new philosophy of Dual Patriotism- love and respect for one’s homeland while remaining grateful for the resident land. Secondly, the history of Indian freedom fighters’ struggle against Imperialism on sea and land. Thirdly, the modern social fabric of Kerala influenced by globalization and its resultant consumerism. The author aggressively takes on the prevailing conventions, both modern and traditional, and is ruthless in this criticism of his own community’s lethargy and hypocrisy. He draws startling conclusions while analyzing the past and observing the present, which is sure to raise eyebrows among the conservative circles. In one chapter, he argues, citing historical contexts, that golden period of Islam, after the initial centuries after its advent in Arabia, was witnessed on the Indian soil during the reign of Hindu king Samudiri in South India. The book argues in favor of the king and Hindus’ generosity than the Muslims for the latter’s success.
A research work which lasted four years, the book has so far seen two editions from Kerala and New Delhi in India.
A Malayalam translation of THE COOL BREEZE was released at the Sharjah International Book Fair under the title ‘MeraWatan’ (my Homeland) by Sophie Cooke, Scottish novelist and travel writer. A graduate of Social Anthropology from Edinburgh University, Cooke is known for her treatment of pursuit of Truth and its concealment on various levels, from personal self-deceptions to governments misleading the public. In 2006 her short story Skin and Bones was broadcast on BBC Radio 4, performed by the actress Laura Fraser