TERRORISM seizes us with fear, with anger, with sorrow and everything accompanying it – the insecurity, the scare in one’s eyes about what is going to happen tomorrow.
The novel shows how our society is changing our perceptions, our personality and the values that were once considered more sacrosanct than life itself. Set in a fictional town of Moazzamabad in the northern part of Uttar Pradesh around the year 1990, it is the story depicting the story of the Muslim community which feels alienated and where a youth named Jamaal Ansari becomes a terrorist. Jamaal is the son of Rafiq Ansari and Shaista Shabbir who prepare for the long road their child would one day take to become a terrorist.
The story goes back a long way to the time when Moazzamabad was named after Emperor Aurangzeb’s son. Rafiq is a regular middle-class guy in the fictional town of Moazzamabad. Sharply conscious of his mediocre background, his aim in life is to rub shoulders with the town’s elite, like the Shabbir family. He lives in the Rasoolpur mohalla, a Muslim neighbourhood in a Hindu town.
Jamaal one day kills the police inspector and in the process gets beaten to death by the policemen before he utters his last sentence, “My name is Jimmy the Terrorist.”
But why does he call himself Jimmy? It is because though he did not seem to have any memory of the largely secular and aristocratic life of his early childhood, he knew that he had been nicknamed Jimmy by his maternal uncle and he picks up that forgotten name as his nom de guerre.
(Hamish Hamilton, C/o Penguin Books India Pvt Ltd, 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi-110 017)