Raza Rabbani’s stories transcend borders of time & space

Invisible People: Showing that side of people’s lives

Zubair Qureshi

Raza Rabbani’s collection of ten short stories titled ‘Invisible People’ is talk of the town these days as they are termed by critics “tales of the trodden”, stories with a universal appeal for readers of all cultures, nationalities and territories. “Invisible People” tells tales of those millions of ‘unnamed’ ‘little known’ souls that weave dreams of a happy, bright, prosperous future throughout their life but cannot see their dreams realized for social inequality prevailing in society and for lack of opportunities. These children of lesser gods are the heroes and heroines of Raza Rabbani’s stories. Although Rabbani is the Chairman of the august Upper House of the Parliament and being a distinguished jurist of the country has important issues to address, constitutional knots to untie, yet his love for the poor whom he calls his own people, the invisible folk, made him sit at the writing desk and compose stories of their miseries.
He has picked characters of his stories from everyday life, common men, beggars, shopkeepers, fruit sellers, litigants, factory workers, villagers, local politicians, housemaids, clerks and prisoners. They and many like them make most of our society yet they remain ‘invisible.’ Their struggle for a respectable living, pains for their children’s education, strife for justice—all go unnoticed by those in power and they are doomed to go from this world unrecognized and little honoured. Raza Rabbani, however, has made a successful effort by shaking us from our self-centred slumbers.
The 130-page Sang-e-Meel’s publication can rightly be called a ‘poor friendly’ book as it talks about the poor. Raza Rabbani has not only written on the injustices done to the children, women and the people of the lower middle class he has also sung the songs of Man’s dignity. His story “When a part of you dies” is such a mystic experience in which the writer narrates the story of his father’s last moments: “My father’s death was as beautiful as his life. Even at the end, his hair was neatly combed and he didn’t have the stubble the idle folk do before they depart on their final journey. Because he did not resist death, it came painlessly.”
The writer keeps giving surprises and surprisingly has mastered the art of telling tale. His stories about the children: “They are in Darkness” and “Broken Dream of a Boy” are two such stories which give us an insight into the heart of children of the oppressed communities. Raza Rabbani mesmerizes his readers by narrating the dreams of these little ones. In short, Raza Rabbani’s stories not only provide us a glimpse into the lives of the ‘have nots’ they also help us understand the social and economic systems prevailing in Asia. The writer points out increasing distances between the ruler and the ruled in the countries of this part of the world. His story ‘A dead man walks’ is indicative of this increasing sense of alienation when a rich man in order to save his murderer son accuses his body guard of the crime and hands him over to police. In short, Raza Rabbani’s stories reflect his deep understanding of human nature and a sense of alienation from the current system of injustice and discrimination.

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