Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Encounters by Omair Ahmad

Encounters by Omair Ahmad is now avilable in book stores in Delhi. It is published by India Research Press. Please ask your local/favourite bookstore for the book. The Amazon link for Encounters is http://www.amazon.com/Encounters-Omair-Ahmad/dp/818386029X/sr=1-1/qid=1157798417/ref=sr_1_1/103-6071782-9711019?ie=UTF8&s=books


I don't know how to begin. I've always been bad at starting things, but I plan out the endings meticulously. I know how this will end, too, tomorrow. You will know about it soon enough, if you read the news.

Or maybe not.

The Times of India and Hindustan Times have become such rags that I'm not sure if they will even get my name right, much less anything else. The Hindu might get some of the truth, but it is such a boring paper that no one reads it anyway. If this is the shape of our news industry, is it any surprise that India has become the disappointment it has? We don't know the truth, and we don't want to. It has become so bland, so grey in its daily recital of failed and failing promises that we are content to swallow the swill of rumours, as long as they are colourful.

But no, this is not how this should go. This is not a story about Kashmir or Palestine or Bosnia or Chechnya, or all the many names of rage. No. This is a story about friendship and love, about Saleem, about Mohini. This is a story about me, and the death of me.

Let me introduce myself, then. I would have liked to call myself Laxman. No great theological reason, no citing of the Ramayana or anything like that, although I know it well enough. No, it is just that I like the editorial cartoons of R. K. Laxman. Only his greatness seems to have survived, only his laughter endures in my world, only his pen still brings a smile to my eyes as I prepare to die.

I would have liked to call myself Laxman, but that might confuse you. I'm a Muslim, you see, and who ever heard of a Muslim with a Hindu name?

I'm a Muslim, or at least that is all that is left of me. It is the reason that I will pick up this katta, this homemade pistol modified to hold a .315 rifle cartridge, and go to the house of the Home Minister. It is the reason that I will shoot that one cartridge and be shot down in turn by the police in yet another 'encounter', and the reason the papers will cite for why I did what I did.

That is what they said about Saleem, and his death.

My blood is no different, and they will say nothing different about me.

At least in my case the analysis might even be true. I will have died because not only was I born a Muslim but because I chose to embrace being one, gun in hand.

My name is Rahman. This is my life, or at least the end of it.



svety said...

"I will have died because not only was I born a Muslim but because I chose to embrace being one, gun in hand."

Will get the book today

aya said...

Omar..let me translate your book in Japanese someday....

Omair said...

Hi Svety, Aya,
Thank you for the compliments, and Aya, if you want to translate it into Japanese, I'd be very happy. Also have an Israeli friend who wants to translate it into Hebrew, so maybe we have a market?
Let's see what the Indian press thinks of it. Maybe back in India in a couple of weeks. Next two books to deal with.

Archana said...

i loved the book..it moved me to tears...its fantastic...