Benyamin’s literary creation, “Goat Life,” originally penned in Malayalam, stands out as a distinctive narrative well appreciated by many readers, exploring untouched dimensions of the desert’s intrinsic beauty—a theme seldom addressed in Malayalam literature before. Some enthusiasts go to the extent of claiming its superiority over the well-known work. The storyline revolves around Najeeb, a man who, seeking employment, embarks on a journey to Saudi Arabia only to find himself entangled in the demanding life of a shepherd. The book intricately unfolds in four segments: Prison, Desert, Escape, and Refuge.
Najeeb grapples with myriad challenges in Saudi Arabia, enduring mistreatment, strenuous labor, and even physical abuse. Slowly, he begins to identify with the goats under his care. Despite multiple attempts to break free, he faces setbacks, including the tragic demise of his friend Hakeem. Ultimately, with the aid of Ibrahim, a Somali colleague, he successfully escapes. After enduring countless trials, Najeeb secures assistance and returns to India, revealing that he had been deceived into a harsh existence in Saudi Arabia. The narrative vividly portrays Najeeb’s life mirroring that of a goat, deeply resonating with readers in Kerala and catapulting the book to widespread popularity.
Modern novels are often characterized as emotional sketches, emphasizing the abandonment of traditional plot structures and narrative forms. Instead, contemporary writers strive to convey characters’ impressions through a narrative voice, a technique known as the stream of consciousness. In the realm of novels, certain common elements persist. While novels were once a primary form of mass entertainment, published in newspapers’ weekly columns and magazines, the genre has declined in popularity compared to its early days in literature. Understanding various life theories, the treatment of the novel’s story thread, the actions of vibrant characters, and their structural and situational context prompt contemplation about human life. With the initial draft in hand, continuous reworking and redrafting are essential to transform the novel into a compelling and complete work. – WILLIAMSJI MAVELI.