A wife is forced into her husband’s cross-border trafficking business; a fakir is tortured and murdered for not following scriptural norms; a Hindu widow times her evening prayer to the tune of the azaan; a horse-cart driver performs the ritual dance of the horse of Karbala; underwater tigers fight ferociously over a dead body in a river . . .
Abul Bashar’s short stories-ten of which are collected in this volume-portray our fears, dreams, hopes and anxieties, brutally exposing human failures and crudities. Yet they are infused with a remarkable sensuality, great lyrical energy and profound philosophy. The trivial and the transcendental emerge in these stories that become an archive and testimony of a community-the Muslims of West Bengal-which is relegated to the margins of society subsumed by its self-interest.