Title: THE STORYTELLER OF MARRAKESH
Author : Joydeep Roy- Bhattacharya
“What is life, after all, but a passing fancy?
The moon, the cat, the poet, this circle of listeners – we all stand on the same page. Between the lip and the talisman, the throat and the voice, the heart and the hope, something is always trembling, something is always living and dying. Is it hope? Is it madness? Is it the sea?
It is love.”
Now, this is one book that you just cannot rush through. Like some exotic meal, you need to savor it word by word and then, after you have tasted and relished it, you need to chew the story – grain and shaft.
The wind and sand form the mysterious backdrop for a tale interwoven with the emotions and imagination of a storyteller, Hassan and his listeners. The story teller could be Joydeep himself as Hassan fuels the imagination of his varied listeners in the same way as we do while reading the novel. When you look back after reading the whole book, you realize that there is no great sinister plot to entrap you and yet, you get to wander far and wide, delving deep into the languid pools of life, almost drowning one moment and then, calmly swimming again.
Joydeep tells you in the voice of the protagonist Hassan what a story actually means…
“A story is like a dance. It takes two people to make it come to life, the one who does the telling and the one who does the listening. Sometimes the roles are reversed and the giver becomes the taker…. From a small number of perfectly ordinary words a tapestry takes shape, suggestive of a dream, but close enough to a reality which, more often than not, remains elusive. ..”
The characters themselves around whom the story revolves are aliens to the culture and tradition of the place, Marrakesh. It is their foreign origin, their uncommon charm and their provocative appeal that pushes the story forward slowly and steadily.
The Storyteller of Marrakesh is truly a work of art – a painting in words, an attractive piece of embroidery with every thread revealing a forgotten thought, a lost emotion. Most situations are extremely descriptive and mystifying transporting you to an universe of fantasy where the beauty and the beast reside together waging inner self denying battles of lust, lost reason, of life at the Jemma square, springing forth into action just when you thought all was getting too mundane. It walks equal paces with ruthless, attractive nature which “…overcomes us. Its sand comes pouring through our doors. From deep inside us, desire rises like a storm. Faced with its might, all else – logic, virtue, circumspection – is useless.”
The story in itself is, “the dream that is like a bird in my head. I cannot get it out, and I would like to get it out. I would like that very much indeed because, until I do, it is getting in the way of my music.”
Within the story, the author also manages to seep in the clash between the fanatical clerics and the local population that wants to cast away certain vengeful and barbaric attitudes for a more humane way of living in a Muslim world.
But, like any work of art, The Storyteller of Marrakesh is a piece of literature that has to be appreciated in the true sense of the word. For those looking for a quick read, this book is a definite No! But for those willing to drink the wine of mystery, language and nature in its deepest and truest form, this book is a masterpiece. More so because truth is, “….the moment of the rediscovery of the wisdom that life is governed by everything that is unknown and that cannot be known. “
For the others, “ Tomorrow is another day. Tomorrow will bring another round of stories….Tomorrow, once again, for the space of a few hours, we will be companions in this journey that is life…
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