Reviewed by: Nusrat Nahid*
Author: Ripon Imran
“Are you the one who had stopped the delivery van and collected 10 copies of Amader Dinratri before it reached the book stall?”- asked Mahmud, the salesperson of Subarna, the day I had first visited Ekushey Boimela 2017. I couldn’t help cracking up! Leaving Mahmud with an unresolved puzzle, I ended up buying a copy for myself. By the time I am writing this, many of the readers claimed to have read this for the third time in a row! Some say, they have internalized the vivid description of the North-Eastern haors of Bangladesh. Some are still trying to figure out who is she that the author, Ripon Imran, keeps on mentioning throughout the pages. With thickening plot as discussed in social media and unanswered questions, I start reading it.
The book, as described by the author himself, cannot be categorized in to any genre- it’s neither a story, nor a set of poetry, but then again, it tells many stories and the elucidations are nothing less than poetry. To me, it’s a journal of a cosmopolitan, opening up a third eye for the reader, who, at the end of each note, learns to see something new from the careful detailing of hackneyed city life and relate the brutal truth of middle and lower middle income society through the metaphors.
Whilst ‘Tobuo Bhalobashi’ beams with eternal and treasured love for the one, who doesn’t seem to be static, with ups and downs adding color to the love-line; ‘Ekanto Goponey’ illustrates the sobs, pain and frustration of the author, which otherwise remains hidden. ‘Ei Shohorey’ portrays the life in Dhaka in rain and in shine; then again ‘Dekha Odekha’ unleashes the gypsy soul to take the off-the-beaten track and be a true traveler, exploring the untapped beauty of wetlands, small towns, and even the rain drops on the long green grass.
Melancholy, self-denial to the inevitable and helplessness characterize the life in Dhaka city, which starts with a sarcastic view on a palmist, who fails to bring luck for himself. Then again the ill-fated person manages to bring fortune for others. That’s when the seemingly unfortunate wins over the rather fortunate ones, the weak over the strong. The reader learns to see the tear drops of a women flowing over her cheeks, and finds herself wiping off her own out of compassion. The middle income dilemma in a five-star hospital just before Eid or while attending an invite are aptly captured when expenditure soar beyond imagination. The repeat stories of Bablu illustrate the hardships of lower middle income family in urban life, which is often ignored in the development agenda.
Life in Dhaka comes back in commuter buses, in the faces of the cleaners during sehri nights, through the abusive words of a prisoner in prison van, by the ungrateful nature of an actress, in the honesty of city corporation workers with limited resources, by the sky-rocketing promises of a matchmaker, through the stories of passengers on midnight flights, in the lifestyle page of a national daily, and last but not the least through the faces which are lost from the city every other day.
The soulful wanderer is an assiduous traveler, exploring rivers after rivers towards the South-West, in full and in new moon leaving his footprint from seashore to the haors, to the small hills and the woods in the North-East of Bangladesh. Only because he can witness a haor full of lilies blooming at the darkest hours
Amader Dinratri: Adding a Third Eye to a Cosmopolitan of the night, only because he can behold the blue sky embracing an entire haor in broad daylight, he can think of counting the number of ovimani people in both the Bengals.
A reader would look forward to reading more from the author, expanding on a specific topic, and of course, novels and short stories. It would not be an exaggeration if a reader finds the flavor of Neel Loheet in the author (which is what he had always wanted to be), meeting the gap, long due, in this part of the Bengal.
The book is published by Subarna (ISBN# 978-984-91482-2-7) and available at
*The reviewer is a business graduate and a development professional serving in a multilateral development agency.