Headline May 22, 2017/ ''' SHALLOW SHANTIES '''


FOR OVER 10 YEARS, I had the great honour to live in Karachi, *Proud Pakistan*.  -on the margins of and with the Homeless. 

Day in and Day out, I lived and lived through them. For just about the same time, I learnt the art of identifying  *Wretched Shallow Graves*,   and that too by the way, in the Library of this  *World Class Newspaper*, Dawn.

For just about the same time, the great and brave students of Karachi welcomed me and taught me.  I covered and visited all and   every Institution : Schools, Colleges, Universities, Madrassahs, Orphanages.  -Mostly on foot.

Three great -sterling friends,  -shielded, suffered, and guided me. Syed Rumi Shumyial, Haider Naqvi, Nusrat Hussain Mangi. They and their beautiful wives,  opened their hearts and doors and cared for me: Shabana Rumi, Uzma Haider and Ms Nusrat Hussain

It is to all of them that I have the blessings to dedicate this research.  

WHAT WE DO KNOW NOW is that the whale was first a coyote, then a water -curious amphibian, and finally, the creature that would rule the seas-

Tahmina Anam's most recent novel,  *The Bones of Grace* completes her trilogy about  Bangladesh, the first two books of which were received with a genuine measure of praise and acclaim by many critics.

However, this book  *The Bones of Grace* reads well as standalone novel and  students/readers will not necessarily feel the need to peruse its precursors. 

Anam's main protagonist,  Zubaida Haque,    is a  young  female palaeontologist whose Harvard education instills in her serious passion for prehistoric creatures such as the  Ambulocetus,  the amphibian ancestor of the present day whale that allegedly traversed both land and sea as far back as 50 million years ago.

Though having a doctorate in anthropology, Anam infuses her novel with a deep respect for ancient life and its origins;  her writing on this topic resonates with admirable authenticity.

Zubaida recounts how she embarks on a journey that takes her from Cambridge, Massachusetts to  Dera Bugti, Proud Pakistan, in order to literally unearth the skeleton of a prehistoric amphibian whom her team affectionately christens ''Diana'',

The excavation is hastily terminated by the unwelcome yet determined decree of the Pakistan military, and a frustrated  Zubaida eventually ends up in her hometown of Dhaka, Bangladesh, facing the tepid prospect of marrying her childhood friend Rashid.

The entire narrative is written in the first person, more specifically in the form of an extended epistle to Zubaida's true love, an American named Elijah Strong. 

Embedded within the matrix of Zubaida's feelings for Elijah lies a desire to discover who her parents are   -she was adopted in infancy by a virtuous Bangladeshi couple whose main concern in life remain their daughter and the war-torn politics of their homeland.

Given how strong-willed and spirited the heroine is , it comes as no surprise that her marriage to the wealthy   -but slightly vacuous   -Rashid,  leaves her feeling trapped.

Recovering physically and emotionally from an early miscarriage, she moves temporarily to Chittagong and attempts to help an American woman, Gabriela, with a documentary on underprivileged workers that are part of the shipbreaking industry.

Zubaida's  'princess' Diana is thus replaced by 'princess' Grace; a handsome ship that has been decommissioned because persistent bad luck appears to haunt it.

While the harbour of Chittagong is a far cry from  Dera Bugti's  deserts, Grace's  ''bones''  end up mattering almost as much to Zubaida as Diana's did. It is at this junction   -midway through the novel   -that the heroine's story intersects-

With that of Anwar,  -a ship-breaking labourer whose obsessive aim in life is to locate his lost love.

Anam breaks Zubaida's narrative rather abruptly in order to insert the lengthy. albeit sporadically interesting account of how Anwar, abandoned a young women named Megna in order to make more money in Dubai.

Anwar's story takes on decidedly Dickensian undertones as leaves Dubai in a dramatic turn of events returns to Bangladesh, and embarks on a emotional rollercoaster quest for Megna.

Towards the latter portion of the novel Zubaida finds answers for many personal questions, and the novel comes to a fairly satisfactory conclusion, in spite of  [or perhaps because of] the bittersweet nature  of its outcome. 

Bones of Grace is a busy book. 

At times it comes across, on a metaphoric level, as a linguistic mall with many varied shops, or a crammed apartment building where sundry narratives and dramas are played out.

Zubaida falls in love with someone, marries someone else, works on Diana, works in the vicinity of Grace, deals with  stifling-in-laws, deals with her parents decision to adopt a pauper's child-

Experiences numerous conflicts regarding both her career as well as her marriage, and suffers from extended culture shock, all within the realm of 400 pages.

The result : a dynamic but convoluted portrait in the words of modern woman who straddles the  East and the West  repeatedly, but not always successfully.

The Honor and Serving of the latest 'operational research' on great books, novels, and authors continues. Thank Ya all for reading and sharing forward. And see you all on the following one.

With most respectful dedication to the Parents, Students, Professors and Teachers of the World.  

See Ya all on !WOW!   -the World Students Society and Twitter-!E-WOW!  -the Ecosystem 2011:

''' Age-Cage '''

Good Night and God Bless

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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