Publisher: Penguin Group
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Lajja talks of the immediate aftermath of the Babri Masjid demolition in 1992 as felt in Bangladesh and suffered by the Bengali Hindus there.
The story follows the mental turmoil of a Hindu family in an Islamic state, Bangladesh, which is facing the consequences of the actions of Hindus in India.
Sunonjoy, unemployed in his early 30s, is an atheist and has a despondent and indifferent attitude to the bitter air in the society that threatens his and his family’s existence in their native land. Sunonjoy’s father Sudhamoy and mother Kiranmoyee are dealing with the trouble at hand in their own distinctive ways, whereas his sister Maya has taken refuge in a Muslim home. The story is a perfect depiction of how evil spawns evil and engenders spite. Mostly seen from the eyes of Suronjon, we discover how an educated youth finds himself descending to the gutters in desperate times.
Lajja is a splendid tale of what follows when religious extremism holds ground. The narrative bluntly criticizes religion ruling the government and the plight of the minority. The deadpan delivery of grave and heinous acts is so effective that it leaves a chill in your spine and makes your stomach turn.
The leading characters are realistic and relatable, bringing out the very emotions that engulf people in a place of distress: survival instinct, fear, anxiety, despondence, indifference and hurt.
A lot of facts are mentioned, to the extent that one loses all focus from the story and is surrounded by so many names and places, eventually forgetting all that was going on. I found myself skipping paragraphs and pages at a time.
The emotion, the setting, all of it is very real and that is what tugs at your heartstrings. Despite its very obvious flaw, the book is a must read, for it gives a glimpse into the ugliness of extremities.