Title- The Ballad Of Ayesha
Author- Anisul Hoque
Publisher- Harper Perennial (an imprint of Harper Collins)
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Writing Style- 4.5/5
Dhaka. 2 October 1977. A military coup is thwarted, but the exact sequence of events is shrouded in mystery. Soon after, Ayesha Begum, recovering from the birth of her second child, receives a letter from the Air Force stating that her husband Joynal Abedin has been sentenced to death, convicted of an insurgency. But has the verdict been carried out? If it was, when and where was he executed? If he was indeed hanged, what has happened to his body?
Trying to find answers to these questions, Ayesha embarks on a long and arduous quest to search for her husband, reminiscent of Behula’s journey in her effort to resurrect her dead husband Lakhinder in the Bengali folktale Manashamangal.
Set against the backdrop of a raging famine, political assassinations and coups that took Bangladesh by storm right after its independence in 1971, Anisul Hoque’s The Ballad Of Ayesha is as much a story of the newly created nation as it is the story of its people.
The story revolves around Ayesha begum; the protagonist and her struggles she faced to find her husband Joynal Abedin. Just before she was about to deliver her second baby, her husband goes missing. Inspired by the famous Bengali play “Manashamangal“; the story is all about Ayesha’s struggle to find the truth behind her husband’s death.
The plot is realistic with dynamic characters. Lively writing style with an audacious tone makes it intriguing to read. Reference to Bengali play plays an important role. The love between Ayesha and Joynal, changing circumstances in Bangladesh after independence makes it a must read. The letters towards the end add sparkle to the story. A perfect combination of love and sacrifice. Afterall, as the book says- Love always pours downwards.