Blood Brothers by M J Akbar
Book Launch & Reviews from Main Blog
Blood Brothers is M.J. Akbar’s amazing story of three generations of a Muslim family – based on his own – in Telinipara and how they deal with the fluctuating contours of Hindu-Muslim relations.
Telinipara, a small jute mill town some 30 miles north of Kolkata along the Hooghly, is a complex Rubik's Cube of migrant Bihari workers, Hindus and Muslims; Bengalis, poor and 'bhadralok'; and Sahibs who live in the safe, 'foreign' world of Victoria Jute Mill. Into this scattered inhabitation enters a child on the verge of starvation, Prayaag, who is saved and adopted by a Muslim family, converts to Islam and takes on the name of Rahmatullah. As Rahmatullah knits Telinipara into a community, friendship, love, trust and faith are continually tested by the cancer of riots. Incidents - conversion, circumcision, the arrival of plague or electricity - and a fascinating array of characters - the ultimate Brahmin, Rahmatullah's friend Girija Maharaj, the workers' leader Bauna Sardar, the storyteller Talat Mian, the poet-teacher Syed Ashfaque, the smiling mendicant, Burha Deewana, the sincere Sahib, Simon Hogg, and then the questioning, demanding third generation of the author and his friend Kamala - interlink into a narrative of social history as well as a powerful memoir.
Blood Brothers is a chronicle of its age, its canvas as enchanting as its narrative, a personal journey through change as tensions build, stretching the bonds of a lifetime to breaking point and demanding, in the end, the greatest sacrifice. Its last chapters, written in a bare-bones, unemotional style are the most moving, as the author searches for hope amid raw wounds with a surgeon's scalpel.