23 August 2012

The Inexplicable Unhappiness of Ramu Hajjam by Taj Hassan

Happy unhappy ending
Some weeks ago, Vrunda Juwale called from Sakal Times and asked me to write about the book I was reading at the time. You can read the article by clicking this: The Happiness of Discovering a Literary Gem.
It took me a while to finish the book since I was reading it aloud to my friend Gladys, a two-hour weekly routine on Tuesday mornings. Both of us enjoyed it and the very realistic insider’s view it gave of a world remote from us. Of all its characters the one I found most intriguing was Murli Compounder – once a village boy like Ramu Hajjam’s son Pawan. By a combination of luck, hard work and personal initiative, he rises to a position of security and prominence few villagers have the opportunity to create for themselves. From the acknowledgements at the end of the book we learnt that Ramu Hajjam is a real person Taj Hassan once met, and that the symbolic dreams he has, well told and evocative, are derived from the Jatakas.
When writing the Sakal Times piece I had been nervous about praising it so much because I hadn’t finished reading it yet but luckily it ended well too – a sad, inevitable end but with the same even pace and simple but powerful language it uses right through.
I enjoyed The Inexplicable Unhappiness of Ramu Hajjam so much that I bought copies to give away, including one for my thirteen-year-old nephew who reads and knows quite a lot but lives in the UK and is unlikely to visit an Indian village.
Before I started writing this blog post, I did a google search on Taj Hassan and was disappointed to find the top three links were to three different Taj Hassans on facebook. There was not a single mainstream review of this book. Why is this wonderful writer unknown? Is this very special book going to sink without a trace? I hope not. I did learn from the publisher’s website that Taj Hassan is in the IPS and is presently Joint Commissioner Security, and that he has served in the north-east and has won the president's medal for gallantry.