Saturday, April 02, 2011

A Case of Exploding Mangoes

MOHAMMED Hanif is one of those rare Pakistani writers who've worked for an Indian publication (India Today in his case). That speaks for his work!

'A case of exploding mangoes' by the same author is a fictionalised take on the last few days in office of General Zia ul-Haq.

The book talks about Zia's strange behaviour as he felt a threat to his life. Hanif's witty account of the events leading to the fatal plane crash will entertain you thoroughly.

Zia's physical description and his state of mind is a major highlight of the book. It's this part which will bring on the maximum laughs.

The book is also a satire on the Pakistani military establishment. The lack of trust between the generals in a way mirrors Zia's own reservations about his security. They all work as a team but there are ones who harbour secret ambitions of toppling Zia. It happens when a powerful army becomes the all-powerful!

Hanif also mentions the seeds of fundamentalism that the former Pakistani President sowed in the name of Islam. Zia ul-Haq made sure, 'all God's names were slowly deleted from the national memory as if a wind had swept the land and blown them away.' The 'Allah hafiz' must have replaced the customary 'Khuda hafiz' during this period. His 11 years in power changed the very fabric of Pakistani society. The religious extremism in present day Pakistan is mostly attributed to the policies of General Zia.

A case of exploding mangoes is a light-hearted book. It could be a perfect companion for those train journeys or long distance flights.

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