Gramer Nam Kakondubi,
Muhammed Zafar Iqbal, Tamralipi,
ISBN 984-70096-0277-1, February 2015.
With the rise of fake Freedom Fighter certificates, it is nearly impossible not to be a cynic when one hears about early teen or eleven years old freedom fighters.
Ronju and Dora a.k.a. Khokon, the pre-adolescent protagonists of this novel are barely old enough to grasp the vastness of 1971, yet their Herculean adventures let the readers have a glimpse of those surreally glorious days of our '71.
Set in an idyllic village, Kakondubi, this book by Zafar Iqbal chronicles how our Liberation War changed the Bengalis, their perceptions, and their lives once and for all -- bringing out the best in many, and the monsters in some in that tumultuous time of national crisis.
In his signature style, the author shows how the decisions of big fishes rippled through the country and reached every nook and cranny; how the initiation of Probhat Feri awakened Bengali solidarity in that picturesque village; how phenomenally important Bangabandhu was to every true Bengali in 1971; how traumatizing life was for the war heroines -- during and after the war.
Often borrowed from real life experiences of freedom fighters, Gramer Nam Kakondubi hovers between reality and myth -- making it all the more closer to the hearts of readers -- making them fall for the little heroes of Kakondubi and love Bangladesh more than ever. Unlike most of his other juvenile adventures, this book is rather voluminous -- 256 pages -- with a gripping plot and unforgettable characters.
Bangladesh's most beloved author once again shows that goodness conquers over evil, and loving one's country irrevocably and unconditionally is really not an option -- even to eleven year olds.
T. S. Marin loves children's literature, happy endings, and Bangladesh. She is a lecturer of English at Primeasia University and is the Sub Editor of Star Literature and Star Reviews pages of The Daily Star.