Najeeb’s dearest wish is to work in the Gulf and earn enough money to send back home. He achieves his dream only to be propelled by a series of incidents, grim and absurd, into a slave-like existence herding goats in the middle of the Saudi desert. Memories of the lush, verdant landscape of his village and of his loving family haunt Najeeb whose only solace is the companionship of goats. In the end, the lonely young man contrives a hazardous scheme to escape his desert prison.
Goat Days was published to acclaim in Malayalam and became a bestseller. One of the brilliant new talents of Malayalam literature, Benyamin’s wry and tender telling transforms this strange and bitter comedy of Najeeb’s life in the desert into a universal tale of loneliness and alienation.
Benyamin (born 1971, Benny Daniel) is an Indian novelist and short story writer in Malayalam language from Nhettur, Kulanada, Pattanamtitta district of the south Indian state of Kerala. He is residing in the Kingdom of Bahrain since 1992, from the age of twenty, and his works appear regularly on Malayalam publications in Kerala.
I will share an anecdote from my life associated with this book before reviewing it.
When I joined Med School, one of the first things my father told me was that I would have to pull a lot of all-nighters in this profession while studying and helping others while working as a Doctor.
I had a hobby of visiting the local indie bookstore every weekend during my Med school days. One day I saw a new book in the bookstore. My friend working in that bookstore told me it is a new book written by a new author called Benyamin. Being a native of Kerala, I have many family members studying and working in Gulf. So I found the blurb mentioning the Gulf life intriguing. So I decided to purchase this book. Sadly it was the exam season, and I could not touch this book for nearly five days.
On the 5th day evening, I was so burned out by studying. I had a major exam the next day and had many more topics to study.
I was sure I would have to pull out my first all-nighter in the Med school that night as I had much more to cover. I was looking for something as a stress buster during the study break. Then I saw this book on my bookshelf. I decided to read 20 pages before returning to the Medical books.
That night I pulled out the first all-nighter during my Med school days. But instead of reading Medical books, I read Aatujeevitham that night. The first 20 pulled me to the novel. I wanted to know more about Najeeb and his life. I went on saying to myself that I would stop after the next 20 pages until I read it cover to cover.
When I understood that this is a real-life story of a person who is actually still alive, I was utterly shocked. I was not able to read anything more for the exam for a couple of hours. The vagaries that Najeeb had to face kept coming back to my mind repeatedly. I still somehow wrote the exam well, though. The first thing I did after finishing the exam was to reread this book. The next thing I did was to give my copy to all my friends. My knowledge of literature and books was very meager then, just like today. Still, I thought that this book would be a huge success in the future. I somehow had the feeling that all my friends should read this book. I was heartbroken when I saw my personal copy tattered to pieces after more than my hundred friends had read it. Still, I was happy when I heard their opinion about this book from them.
Gulf life was something luxurious, in my opinion, until I read this book. I only saw the expensive goods my relatives brought from the Middle East when I was young. I never thought about the sweat and tears behind it. This book showed me the other side of expatriate life.
This might be a real-life story, but the author has taken a few liberty of an author in it. The social and magical realism in it is simply spectacular. The English translation of it is also available in the name Goat Days. This is the book that gave me my first sleepless night in my Med School life. This is also one of the books in my favorite three Malayalam books in contemporary fiction in the last two decades.
ഇന്ന് ഡല്ഹി പുസ്തകമേളയില് പ്പോയിരുന്നു....വാങ്ങിയ കൂട്ടത്തില് ബെന്യാമിന്ന്റെ 'ആടുജീവിതവു'മുണ്ടായിരുന്നു...
അത്താഴത്തിനു ശേഷം തുടര്ച്ചയായി നാലു മണിക്കൂര്.... കൊണ്ട് ആട്ജീവിതം വായിച്ചു തീര്ത്തു....തികച്ചും തീവ്രമായ ഒരു ജീവിതത്തിന്റെ പകര്പ്പെഴുത്ത്....മലയാളത്തിനു തികച്ചും അന്യമായ ഒരു ജീവിതം... സ്വപ്നങ്ങളുടെ ഭാരവും പേറി അറബിനാട്ടില് എത്തപ്പെട്ടു..ഒടുവില് ആടുകളുടെ കൂടെ ഒരു നിഷ്ടുരനായ അറബിയുടെ അടിമയായി ജീവിച്ച ഒരു പാവം മനുഷ്യന്റെ ചോരവീണ കഥ....
" നാം അനുഭവിക്കാത്ത ജീവിതങ്ങളെല്ലാം നമുക്ക് വെറും കെട്ടുകഥകള് മാത്രമാണ്..."
Way back in the 1990's, I remember reading a story by Ursula K. LeGuin: The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas. It disturbed me greatly at that time. It was about this perfect country, Omelas, where there was no sorrow or disease, and everybody was happy. There was only one catch: Omelas was paying for this happiness through the misery of one child, kept locked in a cellar and treated cruelly perpetually. This was the pact that Omelas had made with the powers that be: the misery of one human being in exchange for the bliss of one country. Quite a bargain, if you think of it.
But there were people, when the truth became known, walked away from Omelas; because they could not make peace with the bargain. They were the hope of humanity. When I initially read the story, I proudly said to myself that I would be one of those. Now I hang my head in shame...
...because in reality, I do not walk away. I stay there and enjoy life.
The term "Middle East" brings to mind images of prosperous towns populated by beautiful people, enjoying the glittering night-life with wine and song, all powered by the petro-dollar. What the casual observer misses is the depths of misery just below the surface-the misery the novelist Benyamin has brutally portrayed in his award-winning Malayalam novel, "Aadujeevitham" (Goat Life).
The story is narrated in first person by Najeeb, your average lower middle-class Muslim youth from Kerala in India. He does not know anything of the Middle East, other than that the "Gulf" is an endless source of prosperity. Like many of his countrymen, he also yearns to work there, earn some quick money, pay off his debts, build a house and generally live a moderately good life. However, fate has something else in store for him: whisked away from the Riyadh airport in Saudi Arabia directly into the heart of the desert by his Arab sponsor, he is put to the job of tending goats.
This is not your pastoral idyll. Najeeb is forced to stay all time in the open desert, whether it is the blazing hot summer noon or the biting winter night. He is given only Kuboos (Arabic bread) soaked in water to eat; water, and occasionally goat milk, to drink. He has only one set of clothes, which he is supposed to wear continuously. Baths are out of the question.
Najeeb tends goats, sheep and camels without rest throughout the day. Any small mistake results in horrendous beatings. He slowly realises this is going to be his life from now on-like the goats, castrated and penned in, till one day they make the final journey to the slaughterhouse. He forms a deep kinship with the goats; gives them the names of his acquaintances from home and talks to them regularly. He rejoices when they give birth and mourns when they die. Towards the end of the story, as his humanity is almost totally stripped away, he even sleeps with a she-goat.
Najeeb is a pious, God-fearing Muslim. True to the meaning of “Islam” (surrender) he surrenders to the will of Allah, the all-merciful. This, coupled with the fatalism that is the hallmark of most Indians, Najeeb is the perfect victim, the slave every owner would love to have. But it is also this unquestioning acceptance of his fate that allows Najeeb to survive his ordeal for three and a half years. Finally when he escapes, that too is orchestrated by others – even though, ironically, he is the only one who escapes.
The depths to which human beings can plunge is narrated without any sentimentality or righteousness, almost in the tone of a child which has met unfair treatment at the hands of its parents. The tortures the sponsors mete out to their “employees” are mentioned so matter-of-factly that we catch ourselves flinching. Benyamin tells the whole story in unembellished, first-person narrative; while it makes for rather simplistic writing at times, the voice of the protagonist flows through clearly. The writer is all but invisible, and that is the novel’s greatest strength.
This is a brutal book which does not pull any punches. But then, it should not. Thousands of the poor from India pay huge amounts for visas to the Gulf countries, to agencies who fleece them mercilessly; only to discover when they reach the Promised Land that they have sold themselves into virtual slavery. By then, it’s too late.
Benyamin does a great thing: even though he does not walk away from Omelas, he shines his light on the abused child, not allowing us to forget its presence there. Maybe, in the end, it’s better than just walking away-for the child too, may ultimately get the justice that’s its due.
Sitting in the air conditioned lounge of a coffee shop, sipping on freshly brewed coffee and mumbling that life is becoming dull to a good looking woman was I. That too was a way of fishing for her sympathy wherein she patted my arm and said Talk to me about it why don't you ? as she intertwined her fingers with mine. I came back home after assurances of meeting each other again later. Knowing that the day has been a long one, I took a shower alternating between hot and cold water. Plopped down on the bed, picked up the mobile phone and started texting and being good at multi tasking, kept going through Facebook and after a while shut it all and yawned and recited again in my mind This is so boring ! . From amidst a pile of books, I pick up Aadujeevitham and with each chapter I looked back at myself with revulsion and contempt. It was a book that made ashamed at all the whining I had made of the little setbacks I faced in life.
At the risk of sounding cliched, I must say that this book made me look with complete perplexion at all the things that I took for granted in my life. The title Aadujeevitham translates into Living like a goat and the meaning of this title is very deep. By deep I mean something you can feel piercing deeper into your skin with each word. A man's struggle for survival, one day at a time with only a belief in god as his beacon in the darkness is something I have seen, heard and read before but knowing that this was a true story made me close my eyes for a short while and shudder !
A lot many of my friends who have read this book have called this a depressing work but to me it was extremely uplifting a book. I could only marvel at the will of a single human being to survive against the titanic odds stacked against him. It is such little anecdotes that remind us that we are resilient beyond measure and none of the so called self-help books will even hold a candle against such blazing accounts from life.
Aadujeevitham is not a cliche story of gulf malayalees..it's about the pain and sufferings of protagonist najeeb and also of hope and faith in God ..really heart touching story..a must read for all those who complains about their silly problems and belittle other people's sufferings..The style of narration was really good too :)
This is the story of Najeeb, a not-so-well-to-do youth from Kerala who goes to Gulf to make money and ends up suffering unimaginable horrors. This is based on a true story and what a story it is. Everything from how little Najeeb dreams of, how his friends in Mumbai help him, how not knowing the language made him scared in the airport is supremely well described. Once the part where his slavery starts, the story scales to a different level. How Najeeb manages to hold on to his sanity by holding fast to his faith and befriending the goats he keeps, is truly inspirational. While the circumstances stay truly grim, somehow it's Najeeb's spirit that carries the readers along.
This is one of the best work of fiction I have ever read in Malayalam. A land mark book. We can feel the pain and emotions that the author would have undergone while writing this book. The book is as raw as life could be and as beautiful as life should be. Being an author myself, I could associate with the afterword in which the author describes the process of writing. Writing itself is a tough task, writing so beautifully, so lyrically is nearly impossible. Benyamin has achieved the near impossible- writing a great piece of fiction, while keeping the reader engrossed like he is reading a pot boiler. That, is the mark of a true classic. There are popular books that are page turners, but very poor in literary value and then at the other end of the spectrum there are good literary works that intimidates an average reader or even perhaps bore him to death. Good literature is that which makes the reader engrossed and enthralled at the same time. Aatujeevitham is one such work. Future generation will refer to this work as an example of how a beautiful piece of literature should be written. Great indeed.
"നാം അനുഭവിക്കാത്ത ജീവിതങ്ങള് എല്ലാം നമുക്ക് വെറും കെട്ടുകഥകള് മാത്രമാണ് " ഈ നോവല് വായിക്കുമ്പോള് ഒരിക്കലും ഇതൊരു കഥ ആയി തോന്നിയതെ ഇല്ല. കണ്മുമ്പില് ഒരു ജീവിതം ��ന്നെ കാണുക ആയിരുന്നു. നിസാര കാര്യങ്ങള്ക്കു പോലും പരാതിയും പരിഭവവും പറഞ്ഞു നടക്കുന്ന നമ്മളില് പലര്ക്കും നജീബ്ഇന്റെ ജീവിതം ഒരു പാഠമാണ്. ജീവിത ഗ്രന്ഥി ആയ ഇങ്ങനെ ഒരു കഥ പറഞ്ഞു തന്ന ബെന്യാമിന് നന്ദി. പല ഇടങ്ങളിലും നജീബ് ഇന്റെ വേദനിപികുന്ന ജീവിതാനുഭവങ്ങള് വായിക്കുമ്പോള് വായന മുന്പോട്ടു കൊണ്ടുപോകാന് പോലും ബുദ്ധിമുട്ട് തോന്നി. വളരെ ലളിതമായ ഭാഷയില് ആണ് ബെന്യാമിന് നജീബിന്റെ ദുഖങ്ങളെയും, പ്രാര്ഥനകളെയും, സ്വപ്നങ്ങളെയും, പ്രതീക്ഷകളെയും, സഹനത്തെയും നോവലില് അവിഷ്കരിചിട്ടുല്ലത്. എല്ലാവരും തീര്ച്ചയായും വായിച്ചിരിക്കേണ്ട ഒരു പുസ്തകം തന്നെ.
ബെന്യാമിന്റെ ഈ പരകായ പ്രവേശത്തിന് അഭിനന്ദനങ്ങൾ...മരിഭൂമിയുടെ വിവരണം ഗംഭീരം എന്നതിനെക്കാൻ തീക്ഷ്ണം എന്ന വാക്കുകൊണ്ട് ഞാൻ നിർവചിക്കാൻ ആഗ്രഹിക്കുന്നു... അല്ലെങ്കിൽ ഇതിൽ എവിടെയാണ് ഞാൻ ഗംഭീരം എന്നാ വാക്കുപയോഗിക്കുക എല്ലാം തീക്ഷ്ണം തന്നെ ..ഏതു മനുഷ്യന്റെ ജീവിതത്തിലും അദൃശ്യമോ ദൃശ്യമോ ആയ മൂന്നാമതൊരാളുടെ സാന്നിധ്യം ഉണ്ട് എന്നതിന് എനിക്ക് തര്ക്കം ഇല്ലാത്തതുകൊണ്ട് അവിശ്വാസ യോഗ്യമായ ഒന്നും ഇതിൽ എനിക്ക് തോന്നിയില്ല ....പക്ഷെ എല്ലാം സമ്മതിച്ചു കൊണ്ട് തന്നെ പറയട്ടെ ഇനി ഒരിക്കൽ കൂടി എന്നെക്കൊണ്ടിതു വായിക്കാൻ ആവില്ല.....ക്രൂരതയുടെ മൂര്ധന്യതയിൽ എവിടെയോ വായന ഉപേക്ഷിച്ചു ഞാൻ കുറച്ചു സമയം മിണ്ടാതിരുന്നു...... വര്ഷങ്ങള്ക്ക് ശേഷം നജീബിന്റെ ശബ്ദം കേട്ട സൈനുവിനൊപ്പം ഞാനും പൊട്ടിക്കരഞ്ഞു .....പ്രിയ ബെന്യാമിൻ ,ഈ മരുഭൂമിക്കഥ മനസ്സിൽനിന്നും മായില്ല എന്നതുകൊണ്ട് തന്നെ നിങ്ങളും എപ്പോളും ഒര്ക്കപ്പെടും, എല്ലാ വായനക്കാരുടെ മനസ്സിലും...നന്ദി ( രാധിക)
Was a stunning read, made more authentic by the malayalam language which I was reading after more than a decade. I was totally immersed in the story, to the extent that I felt a discontent even while leading a highly covetable affluent life, according to the standards of the protagonist. I dreamt weird, scary dreams, felt low, and had a low grade headache throughout this period. Every time I ate or drank, or just relaxed, I felt I was committing a terrible crime. This is the story of Najeeb, a lower middle class Keralite, who assumed that his stars have suddenly become bright when he unexpectedly got a chance to go to Saudi Arabia as an employee. But what he expected and what greeted him there, was diversely opposite. He was enslavened and made to work under inhumane circumstances. But all this somehow built his mental fortitude and he never lost hopes. There are few minor characters, who were not that lucky. I lament them all. And I hope against hope, that this atrocity is just a seed of the authors fertile imagination, and not the reality. I want to recommend this book to one and all, but I feel bad in knowingly recommending them a life of hardship (though imaginary) So I would modify my recommendations to only those with a stout heart and a diminished sense of empathy. Otherwise one may not survive this book.
Original Malayalam title: ആടുജീവിതം (Aadujeevitham) - winner of 2009 Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award.
Though its said to be fiction, but actually is inspired by (many?) true lives of Malayalis. They say - "The grass is always greener on the other side" and our protagonist Najeeb leaves behind his family and expecting wife, for finding greener grass (big moolahs) in the deserts of Saudi Arabia.
The beginning of the book describes how desperately he wants to end up in a jail in Saudi, and rest of the story follows in flashbacks. For obvious reasons, this book has been banned in Saudi and UAE. Great and simple narration which keeps you yearning for more. Though its a dark one which might disturb your sleep for quite some time. Perfect 5!
Thanks Smitha and Girish for reading it along. And kudos to Smitha not only for this awesome reco, but also for reading the original Malayalam version in spite of small fonts :)
Benyamin's Goat Days,translated from Malayalam (Aatujeevitham), is based on a real story. And so, it is far more haunting than any fictional account you could read of despair and hope (loosely comparable to Thousand splendid suns?)
Set in 1990s when the 'Gulf moham' was prevalent in Kerala, the book describes the story of Najeeb Mohammad who leaves his pregnant wife and mom to work in the gulf. Destiny has other plans and he finds himself pushed into a life of slavery rearing goats in a vast desert. Najeeb accepts it as Allah's test of his fortitude and devotion and undergoes unsayable horrors. In the midst of this all, he develops a bonding with the goats giving them names and thus holds on to sanity.
The book is an achievement in the sense of making the reader go through as much sadness and depression as the main character. The gory details can make one squirm, but the hope in the face of utter gloom is sort of uplifting. In mounting the odds, the book keeps getting worse and worse with the only hope being the first chapters that assures you all is well at least temporarily. The end is all too easy maybe?
The unsaid fear on foreign shores or new cities - is something I am well aware of. So personally it is just a nightmare of every traveller in a way. An achievement and a haunting portrayal of life on unknown shores.
كيف يكون السجن هو الحرية ، وكيف تتحول الحياة إلي سجن ؟ !
نجيب الذي فقد الحياة في صحراء اللانهاية كان عنده حلم عذري ظن يوما انه محققه ،لكن في ظل جبروت مجموعة عربية غير مكترثه للانسانية كادت ان تجعله حيواناً بل بالفعل جعلت منه حيواناً ادمياً ،جعلت البؤس والشقاء مع الإنسان و السعادة والفرح مع الماعز !
مناجاة نجيب بطول الرواية نسجت ثوباً من الأمل ارتداه في النهاية . إيمان نجيب القوي وثقته بربه كان قارب النجاة ، لولا ذلك لكان من الهالكين .
كنت أظن ان الصحراء فسلفة ، لكنها مع نجيب كانت لعنه . ، الصحراء السعودية الشاسعه جعلت نجيب يظن انها نص الكون وان لا مفر منها ، كان مقبرة لصديقة عبدالحكيم وكادت ان تكون له أيضا .
وتساءلت من هو هذا الصومالي "ابراهيم القادري" هل هو منقذ من عند الله "كما شبهه نجيب بالنبي بموسي عليه السلام " ، القادري بخبرته ورباط جأشه وهمته التي لا تنقطع كان عاملا مهما في مؤازرة نجيب ، ولكن أين ذهبت يا ابراهيم ولماذ تركتنا والشكوك والتساؤلات تتقطر مننا !
تساءلت وأنا أقرأ ، هل تصدق تلك القصة ؟ نعم أصدق ولماذا لا أصدق وأنا أعرف أشخاصا غلاظ القلب قساة لا يرجي منهم رحمة ، فما بال ذلك " الأرباب " الذي لا يشبه الأنسان إلا في هيئته .
هنيئا لك يا نجيب علي صبرك ، ولترقد في سلام يا عبدالحكيم ، وشكراً يا ابراهيم وكنجيكا علي المساعدة ، ولعنه الله علي هذا " الأرباب " .
'Goat Days' is an unusual novel: probably quite unlike anything else you'll read this year. A relatively rare translation from Malayalam by Joseph Koyipally, it is, as its title suggests, a book in which goats feature prominently. So prominently, in fact, that by the end you'll know more than you ever thought you'd know, and ever wanted to know, about the frisky beasts. You'll know how to feed them, how to castrate them, how to dodge a buck if it turns nasty (see previous operation). You'll know how they smell. You'll know how to milk them, too. In fact, all flippancy aside, you will be relieved to hear that 'Goat Days' is far more than a reference guide to animal husbandry. For all its slices of deadpan humour, it is in fact a rather numbing account of the slave-labour life of an Indian emigrant in Saudi Arabia. The most shocking aspect is that it is almost entirely true: Najib, the main character, is based on a man Benyamin got to know, and whose real-life story inspired him to write this book. Millions of Indians apply for visas to work in the kingdom in the hope of earning enough money to send home to their families: what 'Goat Days' proves (though obviously to an extreme) is that the reality is often rather different,as they find themselves effectively held hostage by their rich Arab sponsors, with little or no means of escape. Leaving behind his pregnant wife, Najib arrives in Saudi where he is whisked straight into three years of hell, tending herds of goats on the desert plains for a cruel arbab, or master, who beats him for the slightest infringements, and denies him anything beyond the most basic levels of food, shelter and sanitation. That, in essence, is that, and as Najib tends his goats for days on end the novel becomes more of a meditation on faith and fate, and a study of the mental and physical limits one reaches when faced with a life of such grinding loneliness and the apparent impossibility of escape. 'Goat Days' remains much more of a page-turner than you might expect. Its momentum comes not so much from any fast-developing plot lines - its narrative is clunky in parts, and it's fair to say in certain sections it does drag a little - but in the desire to see Najib back to a better life. By the end, you may need time to decide what to make of it all. It's probably not a book you'll want to clutch to your heart through winter nights: it's too stark and blunt and - well - goaty for that. But it is a story and a truth that will stick in your mind. Benyamin deserves credit for tackling such an important issue with cleverness and clarity. The plight of Saudi Arabia's Indian emigrants is one that deserves to be brought to light.
Goat days is an exceptional tale of survival and hope. Every year Million Indians seek job in Gulf countries with dreamy eyes. Not everyone reaches their destination. This is a tragic story of one such unfortunate person.
---- This is the first book I've read by Benyamin and I am stunned! The book is cleverly divided into Fourty Three small sized chapters, fast paced and a very strong plot.
Najeeb, an Indian seeks job in Dubai through a local contact, gets a job and finally makes it to the Dubai Airport and from there on what Najeeb goes through is unimaginable.
I loved Benyamin's writing style immensely. Each and every word carefully placed, every sentence making perfect sense, this book was a treat to read. The plot is also equally engaging and tragic. Not much work on characterization has been done here since only Najeeb - The protagonist, is one that matters in the book.
There were a few loose ends that I would have really loved to read about.
As the book ended and I read the author's note, my fears came true however I don't wish to spoil it for the readers.
The book is a grim reminder of how life can turn unexpectedly and also how one must not lose hope to survive, thrive and resurrect themselves.
I can't believe what I just finished reading. The Author's note have left me all broken. Yes, I am heartbroken. The story might have a satisfactory ending but it still breaks my heart to read what I have just read.
It's a very beautiful story. It has been written very well. The plot is set right, the explanations are apt. The story is crisp yet detailed in nature. This is one of the books that I couldn't stop reading even if life demanded so. I have been reading this one so obsessively, I can't even recognise what all took place on those days when I was reading it. Everything else was simply a distraction to reading this one.
Initially I did feel that the language was too simple, I also blamed it on the translation because I know it for a fact that Indian languages have all the warm colours and soft moulds to them that I found missing in English but slowly as the story went on, that gap started to bridge itself and I could feel the warmth of Indian language in it. I wish to learn Malayalam, anyway.
And my heart, it's still breaking and is still reaching out to the one man whose story we are following. I might not have faith in God but I do believe Allah helps those who believe. I might not be a believer but I know believers receive blessings. He did.
يرى البعض بإن قراءة الروايات غير هادفة لا تعود بأي نفع للقارئ
هذا ما تنطبق عليه هذه الرواية..
أسمها ملفت للانتباه وسمعت عنها بعض الحديث فأثارت فضولي قرأتها، مملة من بدايتها لكنني اصررت على قراءتها لأحكم في النهاية
ما استغربته هو ظهور صدمة في النهاية وهو كفيل نجيب الهندي لم يكن كفيله بل سرقه من المطار
الرواية بأكملها تحتوي على أشياء غير واقعية، أهمها بإن الهندي شخص نظيف أكثر من السعودي، والهندي يتقزز من القذارة والأماكن الغير نظيفة عكس السعودي.. هو ليس استنقاص بس البيئة الهندية تقريباً مثل هذا الوضع
أنا أعلم بإنه يوجد عندنا بالخليج أشخاص يعاملون الآسيويين بقسوة لكن التعامل في هذه الرواية مبالغ به، نحن أرباب قساة قلب لا رحمة بنا، لا طعام لا استحمام لا تواصل مع الآخرين
الرواية كلها استغربت منها بمقدمة الكتاب مكتوب إنه هذا العمل طبع خمس وسبعين بلغته المالايالامية والترجمة الإنجليزية رشحت لجائزة ما ضمن عمل لأورهان باموق وكما تدرس في العديد من الجامعات والمدارس الهندية
ما اعتقد هذه الرواية تستحق ليس بها حس أدبي أو حتى قصة عبرة
ما تستاهل نجوم، لا تقرأونها من الكتب اللي إلى أبي اتخلى عنها
A captivating account of a man named Najeeb who is stuck in the middle of nowhere along with goats and a typically savage arab master.
It is a story we have all been hearing for for years, sordid grim tales of Indians wedged in slavery-like situations in the badlands of Arabia.
This isn't your multidimensional novel with complex sub-plots. Characters are what they are. Even the goats. But the rustic plainness is what makes the book distinct. Goat days is about a simple man's ordeal, the strange relationships he forges in order to survive and ultimately, his determination and survival urge. Avoiding ornamental writing, Benyamin creates an honest narrative that is as simple as Najeeb himself. It works.
ഒരു സാഹിത്യകൃതിയുടെ ജീവൻ അതിലുപയോഗിക്കുന്ന അലങ്കാരങ്ങളിലോ ബിംബങ്ങളിലോ മാത്രം അല്ല അതുപറയുന്ന ജീവിതങ്ങളിലും കൂടിയാണ് .ആടുജീവിതവും അത്തരത്തിൽ ഒരു കഥയാണ് .ആധുനിക സാഹിത്യ കൃതികളുടെ യാതൊരു വിധ ചമയങ്ങലുമില്ലാത്ത ഒരു പാവം കൃതി . ഇവിടെ നമ്മളോട് സംസാരിക്കുന്നത് നജീബ് എന്ന സാധാരണക്കാരനാണ്,ഗൾഫ് സ്വപ്നവുമായി ജീവിക്കുന്ന അനേകായിരം മലയാളികളുടെ പ്രതിനിധി,പറയത്തക്ക വിദ്യാഭ്യാസ യോഗ്യതയോ സാമൂഹിക ജ്ഞാനമോ ഇല്ലാത്ത സമൂഹത്തിന്റെ താഴെത്തട്ടിൽ ജീവിക്കുന്നവൻ , അയാളുടെ സ്വപ്നങ്ങളിലെ ഗൾഫ് അതുകൊണ്ട് തന്നെ സ്വപ്നങ്ങളുടെ മാത്രം രാജ്യമാണ് .എവിടേയും നമുക്ക് ഇങ്ങനെയൊരാളെ കണ്ടെത്ത��നാകും ,ആടുജീവിതത്തിന്റെ ജനപ്രീതി സൂചിപ്പിക്കുന്നതതാണ് . ആധുനികതയുടെ മറവിൽ ബുദ്ധിയും മൂല്യങ്ങളും വിറ്റ് ജീവിക്കുന്നവർക്ക് ഒരു പാ0മാകും ആടുജീവിതം,,,സമൂഹത്തിൽ ഇങ്ങനെയും കഷ്ടപെടുന്നവരുണ്ട് എന്ന് ...
What a heartbreakingly brilliant story of both, hope and hopelessness.
The book constantly reminds us of the many privileges we take for granted. It is really unfair how the cost and quality of life are so vastly different for so many people. A fairly short book that will stay with me for a long time.
In the end, I am left so conflicted. Should this book leave me with gnawing hatred for all those who treat human lives lesser than what it should be? Should I be angry at how the world is not even working towards solving these problems? Or should I focus on the message of not giving up hope, of faith, and believing in the goodness of those who help others? I don't know the answer. Please help me if you do.
The Middle Eastern Arab states have always been a begrudging moral conundrum for me. Having grown up there and later on worked there for a while, I do appreciate the comforts and safety its relatively chaos free world provides. However, beneath the gleaming concrete odes to mankind’s progress lies an unmistakable and inescapable truth – the region is seemingly bound to a false sense of security and freedom. In truth, most people have no real powers or rights in the law of the land. That is controlled by the meager natural populations and the monarchies which have the financial clout to command the rest of the expatriate population who virtually run the land. Sure, this may be fine if you’re a white collar worker simply looking for a more comfortable existence or to raise finances to live in relative luxury back home. It may even be fine for some of the blue collar workers who make do with their lot in life and still have the freedom to choose to go back. But what about the rest? Those who arrive with stars in their eyes from the lower strata of the educational and social spectrum and whose desperation and naivete are taken for granted by an unforgiving system. In the Gulf we see them all around us, but mostly choose to ignore the blight to the ultra-modern landscapes. Does that make us culprits? Do we just wallow in our relative good fortune in a land serviced in a great deal by the unsighted and uncared for labor? Sure, this happens in a lot of the developing countries, including India, but the ‘Gulf’ is supposed to be different. The land of wealth, opportunities, peace and some of the pinnacles of artificial man made endeavors should be able to take care of its workers, shouldn’t it?
It is the plight of one of these unfortunates that Benyamin’s Malayalam novel (the English translation of which I read) deals with. What makes this bleak tale of survival and near-slavery even more astounding is that the author is supposed to have based this on a real life character’s experience. Even if it were not so, we know this story is not so far from truth.
Najeeb is an uneducated young man from Kerala who jumps at an opportunity when an acquaintance mentions a visa up for sale. With a young family to take care of and plans to expand his modest house, his dreams are par for the course for a lot of the people in his strata of society. He arrives at his destination via Mumbai with a fellow traveler. With no idea on who they have to contact and where they should go, they are whisked away from the airport after a long wait by an Arab in a beat up pickup truck. From here on in, the nightmare begins in earnest for Najeeb. Taken deep into the desert and dumped in a ‘masara’ he is forced to endure slave like conditions tending to the goats and camels in the farm. This ‘farm’ is a barren and bleak landscape where human contacts are at the minimum and where Najeeb works from dawn till dusk with just the bare necessities of food and water to survive. He is under the dictatorial eye of his ‘Arbab’ or master, and is beaten for small infringements and threatened with death if he tries to escape. His only companions being the goats he tends to, Najeeb forms intimate emotional bonds with them and lives his days mostly in an unending struggle to just survive. While the battered and barren vista of the desert lies all around him, he tries to shut out the memories of his lush, verdant village back home in Kerala and his loving mother and wife (and his child, who he has never seen). His faith in his God helps him survive his days with the disarming conviction of the simply faithful that everything is a test and the one above will pull them through this too. Sure, it may appear unconvincing for a skeptic like me, but Benyamin has done a good job in capturing Najeeb’s mind’s inner depths and we can empathize in his belief.
Irrespective of whether Najeeb escapes or not, it should be pointed out that at no point is Najeeb shown to be a superhero or a particularly resourceful protagonist either. He is simply an ordinary man thrown into a seemingly never ending nightmare, the sorts of which can befall any other person caught up in an unfortunate place and time. However, what Najeeb has is a reservoir of patience and determination to cling on in the face of obstacles which may have driven many a person to the point of no return and it is this determination for life that we should take away, ultimately, from this hard hitting book.
Benyamin does not ornament the prose or the story unnecessarily– this is a tale which will strike at you with its unflinching honesty and simplicity. While we complain about the problems in our relatively cushioned lives, it reminds us that there are stories like this happening all around and it laughs at our inability to rise above our own mediocre obstacles. It is also a story which is remarkably effective even in translation, something which not a lot of Malayalam novels manage to achieve.
It’s a relatively small book, but the impact it has on our psyche is anything but. Recommended for all readers, irrespective of where they are from.
But first, we meet Najeeb, and he and a friend are trying their very best to get arrested. Life in prison is far better to what he has suffered through recently.
What could be worse than prison?
It is the 1990s. Najeeb is from Kerala, a state in India. He’s intrigued by all the stories of those working in the Gulf and thinks it a quick easy way to make some fast cash and take care of his pregnant wife and their future child. But things do not go the way he expects.
He is put to work with goats. He tended to goats, milked them, fed them, herded them. The goats were treated better than he was. He didn’t have a cot to sleep on, or shelter. And this is the desert, which means ridiculously hot days and freezing cold nights. The precious water was meant for the goats so he wasn’t allowed any water to wash up with. He is only given khubus (a kind of bread) to eat for lunch and dinner, and some raw goat’s milk in the morning for breakfast. And barely enough water to drink.
We follow him through his days. His hard, painful, extremely dirty days where the only other human he sees is his Arab owner, a mean man who watches him through binoculars to make sure he doesn’t run off while herding goats – and won’t hesitate to shoot. When finally Najeeb meets other people, two Sundanese men who come to shear the sheep, although they don’t have a common language, he is just thrilled to see different faces, to smell a different smell.
“The sense of dejection that descended one me as they departed! I had been enjoying the scent of two humans till then. Now, there were only the animals and me. Grief came, like rain.”
He didn’t expect to be a goat herder. He just wanted to make easy money – his relative got him a work visa. And when he landed in Saudi Arabia, not speaking a word of Arabic, not knowing any details except a name. Someone comes to claim him and they drive far off into the desert where he begins work. There is no choice for there is nothing but sand around. Where can he go? He doesn’t know where he is. He can’t speak the language. And somehow he survives three years, barely human, treated worse than an animal. He is a slave.
“My thoughts were not of my home country, home, Sainu, Ummah, my unborn son/daughter, my sorrows and anxieties or my fate, as one would imagine. All such thoughts has become alien to me as they were to the dead who had reached the other world. So soon – you might wonder. My answer is yes. No use being bound by such thoughts. They only delay the process of realization that we’ve lost out to circumstances and there is no going back. I realized this within a day. Anxiety and worry were futile. That world had become alien to me. Now only my sad new world existed for me.”
What a painful read, brutal even. It’s hard to attract people to read such a book, I know. But I am glad I read it. It is a short read, at just 255 pages, and essentially while it is a rather simple story, it is well portrayed, it is moving and a very unique look at life in Saudi Arabia, far from the towering skyscrapers and modern amenities, far from another human face. It is terrifying to think that this is happening out there.
“Every experience in life has a climax, whether it be happiness, sorrow, sickness or hunger. When we reach the end, there are only two paths left for us: either we learn to live with our lives or protest and struggle in a final attempt to escape. If we choose the second path, we are safe if we win; if not, we end up in a mental asylum or kill ourselves.”
“നാം അനുഭവിക്കാത്ത ജീവിതങ്ങളെല്ലാം നമുക്ക് വെറും കെട്ടുകഥകള് മാത്രമാണ്.”
Translation: The life which we have not experienced are all just fictional stories to us.
I was moved by the above quote from the book. The book is so beautifully written and is filled with so many beautiful lines.
This story revolves around a Keralite named Najeeb who gets an opportunity to come to a Middle Eastern country in the early 1990s. With the dreams of providing his then-pregnant wife and future kids with an extra room, television, and radio sets; on the whole a better life, he decides to go. He travels to Mumbai from Kerala and meets Hakeem, whom I understood to be of around 18 years of age and also would be Najeeb's colleague abroad.
Once they reach Saudi Arabia, Najeeb meets his "arbab" for the first time. The writer has so beautifully written Najeeb's thoughts and hopes about his Arbab. Najeeb and Hakeem get taken to a remote farm (not actually a farm) deep inside a desert.
The story then develops from here into something we would not envisage.
No matter how inconceivable and intolerant it may seem, humans always have a tendency to survive. Najeeb tries to live through those three years, always trying not to think about his wife or others back home. He had made peace with his current situation. I was gobsmacked by the will for his living. He was merely surviving.
His only friends were the farm animals. Yes, farm animals are one of the main characters in the story. Goats were his favourites, there were sheep and camels too. The relationship with Hakeem, goats, "arbab" and "kuboos" is all so beautifully written that you feel so involved with his life. You feel for him. The writer's language makes you live through them.
The story is picturized amazingly with the use of beautiful and subtle words. Few highlights are the sunsets, the rare rains in the deserts, the grazing area, the “arbab”, Najeeb’s bed and the best one was when Najeed first saw camels. There are many more which I cannot tell here as it will affect your reading experience. As the story develops, we will understand why Benyamin (The Author) is one of the best authors of Malayalam literature. The book ends remarkably but also shatters you with some dumbfound confessions.
Aadujeevitham, the story of Najeeb, is not just a book that you should read for the story, this book is also for people who have the tendency to give up easily under the slightest obstacle in life or for those who take everything for granted. Another thing to note is that Najeeb is not formed from the figment of the author’s imagination. The story is real. Yes, Benyamin was inspired by the real-life of an individual named Najeeb.
Though the characters and situation may seem less charming to you at first, there are many events throughout the book to keep you absorbed with Najeeb and his story.
I am excited, same time sceptical, to see the movie adaptation directed by Blessy and Prithviraj as the protagonist. Obviously with Blessy, Prithviraj and AR Rahman as a team, it will be impossible for the movie to disappoint us. My suggestion is that try to read the book before the movie because the book will give you, your own version of Najeeb – and we all need a Najeeb in our mind to get us going.
I am sure I will reread this book. I am sure I will always think of Najeeb and his life. This is a beautiful work of literature, and I suggest all of us should read this at least once.
Buy it. Read it. Recommend it and have no regrets. I was so captivated by the book that the scene when Najeeb's friend Hamid was about to be handed over to his Sponsor he broke down saying ,"Ente Najeebe" and then I realised that I too was crying. It was too much for me that I continued with the reading only the next day. The poor fate of Hakkim was another torment for me. After reading what had happened to Hamid and Hakkim I was nervous whether the same fate was about to follow Najeeb. And all I can say is that I was absolutely satisfied with the ending. I wish I could go back and read this book for the first time. Aadujeevitham made me cry, made me smile and also has influenced me in an exceptional way. And I'd highly recommend this novel to all, whether you enjoy reading or not.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
لِنبدأ بالقول أنها رواية لا بأس بها، سلسة. بإمكانك الإنتهاء منها في جلسة قراءة واحدة. لكن السؤال، هل ستخرج من هذه الرواية بِشيء؟ أشك في ذلك كثيراً. هي من نوع الروايات التي ما آن تنتهي من آخر صفحة، حتى تنساها تماماً، فهي لا تعلق بِذاكرتك، أثرها لحظي. وهُنا أظن يكمن فشل الكاتب، أغلب الروايات التي تتحدث عن صراع الإنسان لِلنجاة عادة ما تترك أثر كبير في القُراء، الرواية هُنا، لم تفعل ذلك (على الأقل بِالنسبة لي). الأحداث الميلودرامية كانت مُبالغ فيها في بعض المواقف، حتى أنني لم أستطع التعاطف مع نجيب.
نجيب هو بطل الرواية، ترك بلاده وزوجته الحامل من أجل الحلم السعودي، لكنه لم يجد سوى صحراء قاحلة، وشمس حارقة وقطيع من الأغنام التي كانت ملجأه في حالة البرد والحزن والشهوة!
السرد في الرواية يشوبه بعض الأخطاء، انتقال الكاتب من ابتهالات نجيب، إلى وصف الحدث ثم العودة عشوائياً إلى أفكار نجيب يدل على أن السرد بسيط وركيك، ايضاً تذكر نجيب واستيعابه لما يقوله "الأرباب" في حين أنه قبل أيام (عدة صفحات) كانت اللغة العربية تستعصي عليه أمر غير مُقنع. التشبيهات في الرواية، لا بأس بها، عدا تشبيه نجيب نفسه بالأغنام، يتضح من خلال الرواية أن الكاتب ملتزم بالتشبيه "الإنسان الماعز" وهذا تشبيه أجد له المُبرر أو المعنى من خلال الأحداث. لكن تشبيهات نجيب لِنفسه بالأغنام كانت دائماً تجيء غير متسقة مع السياق؛ مثلاً تشبيه نجيب لنفسه بالأغنام لأنه وحيد ولا أحد يشاركه غير مُقنع لأن الأغنام دائماً ما تكون في قطيع، ايضاً تشبيهه لِنفسه بالأغنام لأنه خالِ من الرجاء والأحلام كان يُناقض ما كتبه عن الأغنام قبل صفحات قليلة.
الترجمة في الرواية لا بأس بها، لاحظت وجود بعض المفردات العامية، التي لا أظنها خدمت الحوار أو النص. بعض الجمل ايضاً جاءت غير متسقة مع النص.
الجملة الوحيدة التي توقفت عندها كثيراً هي "كنت أحاول أن أقنع نفسي بهذا الإعتقاد، ولولا هذا الإعتقاد فكيف تكون حالتي عند ذاك" دائماً كان أثر المعتقد على طمأنينة النفس أمراً مثيراً للإهتمام بِالنسبة لي، أميل للإعتقاد أن الكاتب كان يجب عليه توظيف هذه الفكرة لإعطاء الكتاب عمق وبعد فلسفي يُثري روايته.
ختم الكاتب روايته بجملة الإنسان الماعز، وبِالعودة إلى هذا التشبيه، هل الكاتب مُقصر في هذا التشبيه؟ هل فقط المغتربون (العمالة من هم على شاكلة نجيب) كالماعز؟ ألسنا جميعاً في مرحلة من مراحل حياتنا كالماعز؟
مراجعة وتقييم كتاب 📕 • اسم الكتاب : #أيام_الماعز اسم المؤلفة : #بينيامين ترجمة : #سهيل_الوافي دار النشر: #مكتبة_افاق نوع الكتاب : #سيرة_ذاتية #أدب_الرحلات عدد صفحات الكتاب : 199 صفحة تقييم ال Goodreads 4.19 نوع القراءة : ورقي 📖 . •🔎#اقتباسات 👇. . أدركت مع أستياء البعد الشاسع بيني وبين حلمي.. إنما أقول لكم إنه لا ينبغي أن تحلموا ولو عبثاً بالاشياء البعيدة عنكم أو الأمور التي لا علم لكم بها.. وأنذركم بأن تلك الأحلام إن تحققت يوماً في حياتكم ستكون أرهب مما تطيقون النظر إلى وجهها. ص 101 . " كل ألم يخف إذا تقاسمناه مع شخص آخر. ما أبشع هذه الوحدة".!. ص 135. . " وكان ذلك الحديث خليطاً من دموعي وأحزاني ومعاناتي ومشاعري وأحلامي. لم أكن أعلم هل تفهم هذه الدواب ما اقول لها.." ص 135. . 📝 #الملخص👇. . أن تُسجن في زنزانة فذلك يعني عزلك عن العالم وتكون حدود بصرك محدودة المدى آما أن تسجن في صحراء فذلك حتما أمراً سيبدوا لك غريباً!! . نتابع في هذا الكتاب حكاية شاب هندي يدعى نجيب من قرية بسيطة تعلق بأمل حياة كريمة لزوجته زينب ووالدته وطفله الذي لايزال يعيش في احشاء امه ول�� يُعرف حتى جنسه بعد. . كيف لتلك الاحلام البسيطة ان تموت في مهدها وان يرسم القدر صور عكس الاحلام التي كانت!! . يغادر نجيب موطنه وفي صحبته شاب يدعى عبدالكريم تعهد اليه وال��ته بان يكون وصياً ورفيقاً له في سفره حتى يعودا ولا يفترق احدهم عن الاخر ولكن ما الذي حدث لتتغير حياتهم كلياً!!. . ما الذي حدث لنجيب بعد مضي 3 سنوات و4 أشهر و 9 أيام ؟! من هو إبراهيم القادري وما علاقته بنجيب؟! هل يعود نجيب مع عبدالكريم لموطنهم؟! لمعرفة كل ذلك اترك لك قراءة الرواية دون افساد. . #التقييم: . استمتعت بقراءة الرواية ، تعاطفت مع نجيب فيما تعرض له من صعاب وكان تقييمي للكتاب بـ ⭐⭐⭐من خمس نجوم . • 📊 #سؤال_للقراء : • أن كنت عزيزي القارىء قد قرات هذا الكتاب ام لم تقراها بعد فما هو انطباعك بعد قراءة هذه المراجعة؟! شاركنا برأيك 😊. • • ⚠ #ملاحظة: . .👇🏻👇🏻 🌿 تقييمي للكتاب هو رأئي الشخصي وليس ذم او إساءة تجاه [ الكاتب / دار النشر ] 😊. 🌿 [ أقبل الاختلاف عنك ، ولكن اختلافي عنك لا يعني اختلافي معك ]. • • #مراجعة_وتقييم #تحدي_القراءة_للعام_2018 #الكتاب_رقم_85 #قناة_مع_كتاب #كل . .
When Najeeb leaves his home in Kerala for a better job in Saudi, his expectations are that of the glamour and comfort associated with the Gulf. But ill-fated circumstances crumble his rosy perception of mankind, as he is held captive on a desert, forced to work as a goatherd.
I am usually quite intimidated by award-winning books. But this one has permanently left a mark on my soul.
It is the gut-wrenching story about the inhuman treatment of migrant workers. Through a flashback narrative, we are made privy to the enthusiasm and child-like awe with which Najeeb makes his way to Saudi. And in the span of a few chapters, both the reader and the main character are brought back to Earth in a shattering display of cruelty.
There's so much I appreciate about this book. The commendable strength that wafts from its main character, the straightforward manner of storytelling, the depiction of societal disparities. I could spend hours discussing this praise-worthy title, and that would still be less.
This a very depressing book. There are thousands of people lured by the dream of working in the Gulf countries and earning money. While a handful of them make it, there are scores who are duped and cheated by their sponsors who make them work for a pittance and exploit them. One such story is that of Najeeb Muhammad, who is dreaming of a cushy job in Saudi Arabia and sending back the money so that he can pay off his loans and earn enough to provide for his family. However, he gets duped and is made to work as a shepherd in a remote area in Saudi, far away from the city. This is a story of how he fights against all odds and escapes from the cruel arbab to freedom.
The book is an easy read and seems like a very simple translation of the Malayalam version. Hope the translator has done justice to the much acclaimed Malayalam novel.
يالله يا ناصر المظلومين يا مغيث الملهوفين أفض عليهم رحماتك وآنسهم بلطفك وانصرهم على من ظلمهم. اللهم لا تؤاخذنا بما فعل السفهاء منا. قصة موجعة مؤلمة لرجل مسلم بريء يتعرض لصنوف من العذاب والبؤس والقمع. صاحب القصة نجيب محمد رجل هندي من فئة لا تسمع لهم همسا وليس لهم صوت ولا نعرف وجهة نظرهم بل لايؤبه لها ولا يعبأ بها ، يسلط الله عليه أرذل خلقه يسومه الخسف والجلد والذل ، وللأسف الشديد فإن أحداثها واقع وليست من الخيال المحض والحمد لله أن هذه الظواهر خفت كثيرا ولكن لا زالت بحاجة إلى محق . القصة زمانها في التسيعينات الميلادية ، والمكان في أحد براري نجد ، سردها جيد متتابع يفتر في الربع الثالث من القصة ثم يعود بقوة حتى النهاية، اللغة أدبية جيدة ولا تخلو من أخطاء لغوية وصرفية وإملائية ولا أدري ألا يوجد في الدار محررون يراجعون النص قبل الطباعة؟!. العاطفة في الرواية مؤثرة تفيض فيضاناً وتجيش جيشاناً والإيمانيات والروحانيات محلقة مبهرة.