“Darkness lies just underneath the lamp”- Humayun Ahmed, (Badshah Namder). ‘Badshah Namder’ a historical book written by Humayun Ahmed is a mouthwatering treat for every kind of people. It is published by Anyaprokash, in the year 2011. ‘Badshah Namder’ is that kind of historical fiction that someone would have the urge to know what happens next but at the same time, he would not want the book to be finished. I have read the book numerous times yet every time I experienced the same thrill going through it. Earlier, I was never really interested to read a historical fiction but now that is all history.
In the preface of the book the writer Humayun says that even he doesn’t know the actual reason of writing about the history of Bengal’s ruler ‘Humayun’. It can be because of his childhood memories of reading about Mughal Empire or because of having the same name ‘Humayun’. Whatever be the reason he says that he has enjoyed writing it mesmerizingly and as a reader I have had the same experience.
‘Badshah Namder’ is basically a historical fiction portraying the ups and downs of the emperor Humayun who spent most of his life taking wrong decisions listening to his heart rather than his brain. According to Humayun, “Logic is not everything, over logic, heart lies. He was betrayed again and again and still he used to forgive his enemies knowing that they would do the same thing. But there were also lots of people who loved and respected him even more than themselves.
‘Badshah Namder’ is a journey of Humayun, through love and war, loyalty and betrayal, kindness and cruelty, cunningness and foolishness; and many more emotions and passions at the same time.
The novel takes place in the Indian Sub-continent when Mughals were ruling in Bengal. Most of the events take place when the Protagonist of the novel, Humayun was the emperor of Delhi from the year 1530 to 1555. There are also some past events described by the dialogues of the characters when Humayun’s father Babar was the emperor but they are not the major events.
There are many characters present in the novel. Humayun, Bairam khan, Hamida Banu, Sher Khan, Kamran Mirza, Gulbadan, Hari Shankar are the major characters and there are many more minor characters who help us to go through the proceedings.
Point of View
The story is written in third person omniscient point of view. The writer is not present in the story and he uses pronouns like, ‘he’ or ‘she’ and the writer has full access to the characters’ thought.
Writing Style of the Author
Humayun Ahmed’s writing style is called ‘magical realism’. His choice of easy and frequently used word by the common people makes him stand out. His smart use of similes, metaphors make us feel related to any situation he is writing in the story. The vividly imageries make us almost the eyewitnesses of the events going on.
Though ‘Badshah Namdar’ is written about medieval Bengal, the readers would not feel the generation gap even for a moment because of his writing style. He described the characters in such a way that we don’t feel distant. His writing has made the characters so real, that the readers take no time to connect with them.
The book starts with giving the procedure of making a special ‘sharbat’ (juice) of green mangoes which is certainly an unusual attempt to start a historical book. It has been done only to make us get used to the fact that even they had a normal life besides going to war and dethroning other emperors. The choice of words in this novel is slightly different from Humayun Ahmed’s other books as it is written about the medieval Bengal but still it is easily understood and still if some of the things cannot be understood by the readers, the author has provided some footnotes to clarify the issues.
By reading ‘Badshah Namder’ every time I am left with the feeling of wonder and amazement. I really liked how he did not only focus on the protagonist and developed other characters to increase the passion in the climax. What I enjoy the most about the book is the protagonist Humayun’s portrayal throughout the book. And the book is full of surprising turn of events. When I read the book for the first time, after each incident, I tried to guess what was going to be happen next and most of the time I failed.
By reading the novel I could explore thousands of emotions within 3 hours. To me, it was a journey of two hundred and thirty-one pages of love, hatred, pity, excitement, horror, anxiety, joy and tears at the same time.
Why One Should Read ‘Badshah Namdar’
One should read ‘Badshah Namdar’ at least once because of the amazing journey he would enjoy and cherish for a long time. Reading a historical book is like smoke and mirrors. Modern writers cannot actually find out truly what happened there and how they used to live no matter how much research they do. Still. This book is written based on so many original history books that it gains the trust of the readers. The writer has written the story based on the events described in ‘Babar nama’, ‘Mughal Samrat Humayun’, ‘Humayun nama’, books written by historian Abul Fazl, British museum’s paintings etc. Still he could turn the historical events into a breathtaking fiction.
He not only mentioned the characters’ achievements and how they changed for the lust of power, (like other history books) but also described their such qualities with which we can feel closer to them. For example, we can know about the excellent talents (painting, poetry, hunting) of Humayun from the book. One of his shayeries (poetries) is –
Logic is saying that getting you is as difficult as getting the moon in hands.
Heart is saying that I have got you. Heart’s saying is the truth. You are mine.”
One of the main thing one would notice that, although the book is about Humayun, the writer was not biased to portray only his talents. It is not only centered to Humayun’s life only. The book makes us feel for the other major or minor characters too. We can know about the marvelous skill of Kamran Mirza’s poetry, (Humayun’s Brother). One of his poetry is mentioned in the book.
“Kingdom is such a beautiful woman
For kissing her lips,
One needs to have sharp edged sword”
Other characters’ greatness or qualitiess in fact of the enemies are described giving the same importance. For example, the readers can find the loyalty and respect from Bairam khan and the cunningness of Sher Shah.
Another thing to be noticed that we can know some of the ongoing happenings in medieval Bengal and what was the condition of the normal people of that time. We can know about the punishment system of that time and how were they rewarded if made the emperor happy.
The author did not only focus on the ill fate of the protagonist but also revealed what happened with other minor characters such as Kashem khan, Mirja Hindal, Nijam Visti, Losmi Bai etc.
By reading ‘badshah Namder’ one would get to know about what happened with Humayun closely, the reader would know what betrayal is and most importantly what true kindness is.
It is a story through which one can understand the mystical events happened in emperor Humayun’s life. Readers get to know about his nature, behavior, characteristics, value etc. Reading the book takes the reader away from the present world and makes them feel like a part of the medieval period of Bengal.