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Book review: The Cloud Messenger


IQBAL SONAULLAH | New Delhi, November 26, 2011 18:09
Tags : book review | cloud messenger | mehran | |

Memory is a bad story teller. It erases all the real twists in a tale. But when Mehran looks back, it seems that everything has to happen the way it did. He made relationships but all he felt was the burden of a gift too expensive to reciprocate. As we follow the narrator, Mehran, who appears sometimes as a first person and sometimes as third person, in the stream of his tangled encounters, the varying levels of permanence in relationships come out as the main theme of the novel.

The Cloud Messenger takes place in London at a distant rainy place that Mehran finds himself in after leaving Karachi during his teens. It is here that most of Mehran’s adult life unfolds; his love, his work and hours spent dreaming and longing. During the process of reading, the author strikes at the emotions of a reader with a magic that is wonderfully woven in the format of words.

As he grows older, Mehran’s life changes gradually. During his twenties, Mehran looks out at the world in a way that is both trusting and seductive. Mehran is relaxed, as if he is poised to fly. His thirties are reticent, edgy and tense, where he seems withholding himself.

At some point during the course of story, Mehran too has built around himself a net of words, of memories and images, of longing and captivity, in lieu of a home. Sometimes, he imagines himself escaping that tangled net; rising as vapour and dissolving and dripping away, drop by drop, to become not the exile who sends the messages, but the cloud that carries them to rain down his longings on the dry earth of his past, the land that he had left behind.

Being a subject from the East, Mehran is influenced by the Urdu and Persian language, especially the poetry. He often discusses and introspects on its practitioners; the Sufi mystic, Shah Abdul Latif as well as others such as Amir Khusrau and Faiz Ahmad Faiz. The treatment of the book is thus suffused by a passionate romanticism.

The later part of the book is coloured by a few key relationships of Mehran, exploring how question of love, longing, loss and intimacy can be answered during complicacies. His great love, Marvi, acts as a symbol of loss: loss of home, of love, of self. At this stage the novel, in a sense, transforms into a story of Melancholy.

Book: The Cloud Messenger; Author: Aamer Hussein; Publisher: Harper Collins; Language: English; Binding: Paper back; ISBN: 9789350291535

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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017