Published:  12:56 AM, 20 August 2017

Devapala: Merging history with literature

Devapala: Merging history  with literature Devapala by Kamal Rahman, Publisher - Dhrubapada, December 16, 2016

Ishrat Binte Aftab is amazed by the novelist's anecdotal portrayal  of imagination and reality

The history of Bengal lies in numerous migrations, rulers, dynasties and mostly transitions. Kamal Rahman, a brilliant writer, through his latest novel Devapala, has attempted to bring into focus the ancient history in the form of literature so that the contemporary readers can have the essence of it. The novel Devapala is published by Dhrubapada in 2016 along with a beautiful cover made by Rio.

The novel tells the story of 400-year long history of Pala Dynasty. Among the rulers of this dynasty, Devapala was the most successful one. He had outmatched everyone by his skillful ruling in the field of agriculture, administration and military. Then again, he had handled the matter of religion impeccably without hurting the sentiment of peasant class. Furthermore, he had expanded the dynasty to the border of China on west side and Afghan on East side. After Ashoka, no one had the caliber to extend the area this far. In a word, this turned into one of the largest kingdoms in the then Bangla-Bihar. Therefore, it can easily be considered as the best time for people. Because of lack of efficient descendent on the throne, this expansion of kingdom and influence of the dynasty had declined over time. Kamal Rahman, with his crackerjack style, has tried to capture those times in his novel.

The lizzie of Bengali literature is in back gear for quite a long time. This actually comes as no surprise as we have blindfolded ourselves with so-called intellectuality while our authentic quintessence of literature is drifting apart. Kamal Rahman has possessed that particular idiomatic style which this generation lacks of. Bertrand Russell has once penned, "There are two motives for reading a book; one, that you enjoy it; the other, that you can boast about it." If Devapala is to evaluate by this quote, it's a book to both enjoy and boast about. Not only because of its historic value, but it brilliantly relates our contemporary national and political life.

With a careful eye of analysis, it can be deciphered that the storyline Kamal made up clearly brings out the defects of today's ruling system. From time immemorial, triangle India has been basically the accumulation of three vast kingdoms-East, West and Southern India. For a very long time, these three kingdoms had been inter-conflicting which brought their destruction. Along with that, this conflict had exposed them to colonial rulers eventually. The novelist, with enough references, has tried to doodle the picture quite accurately.

One single truth, he has been establishing in his whole book-forgetfulness of history leads to the modification of it-from which we are still suffering. Furthermore, he has pointed out the bitter truth-a lifelong habit of human-focusing on negative side of history.  With a heavy heart, the writer indicated to the fact that how bubbleheaded we are as a nation.  We narrate the victory of Bakhtiyar Khalji with much enthusiasm, whereas, it took our independence away. On the contrary, with same enthusiasm we describe how hideous history it was when Lakshman Sen escaped. That's us, forgetting pride keeping penitence in mind! 

It's better not to judge any literature by crowning it with successful or unsuccessful. What a piece of literature needs to be is worthwhile and in that litmus test, Kamal Rahman's Devapala has passed with flying colors. As a master writer he has established his novel on those detailing which made the book more worthy of reading. Readers will discover the ancient world in an unprecedented magnitude which is one of the most prominent features of a successful literature. Moreover, the way he has entwined history with taleskeeping the flow of anecdotal magic is astonishing forsooth! Then again, Kamal gives a feeling of belonging to his readers which has adjoined a trailblazing dimension. Then again, his way of cherry-picking words is nothing but chimerical.

Nevertheless, if it is stood against the assessment gun, there are some portions where it is seemed to be a bit complex, especially when it comes to a conversation. It may happen because of the unfamiliar tone of language at first and later for twisted story plot. Even after having a constant loving feeling about the book, it has some long description which is actually for better understanding but can take reader's mind away.

Evidently, Kamal Rahman took a very unconventional pawn in the contemporary chess-board of literature. He did dare to merge history with literature which indisputably a hard nut to crack. Anyhow, he has proved himself quite charismatically and in the attempt of educating this generation with history he is quite successful. Thereupon, for this generation, he can be considered to be a will-o'-the-wisp!


The reviewer is schooling with BRAC University. She is a regular contributor  to The Asian Age. She loves reviewing books.


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