Dr Vaidehi Nathan
Dozakhnama – Conversations in Hell, Rabisankar Bal, translated into English by Arunava Sinha, Random House India, Pp 533(PB), R 399.00
WE all run conversations in our minds with people—great personalities, our ideals, persons whom we want to take on and win in war of words. Rabisankar Bal has converted such an imaginary conversation into a beautiful novel Dozakhnama. And the place where this conversation takes place is equally interesting, it is in hell.
Thetwo people in conversation are two great writers Sadaat Hasan Manto and Mirza Ghalib. Manto had all his life wanted to have a conversation with just one man, Ghalib. Since he couldn’t he wrote from imagination, as they lay in their distant graves, Manto in Lahore and Ghalib in Delhi.
And the conversations turn out to be biographies of Manto and Ghalib and a social commentary as well, in which tall personalities of the time walk in and out—Rumi, Kabir, Ismat, Tansen. There is history in it.
The book when originally published in Bengali won great acclaim and has now been translated into English by Aruna Sinha. Rabinsankar, a journalist by profession, has published fifteen novels, short story collections, poetry and literary essays. Arunava Sinha is a veteran of Bengali-English translations, this is his seventeenth. The novel is a pleasurable read, especially if one is into literature and poetry.
(Random House India, Windsor IT Park, 7th Floor, Tower-B, A-1, Sector 125, Noida-201 301,UP)