History, Myth, and Trauma in Anisul Hoque’s The Ballad of Ayesha: An Analysis

Tanmoy Mazumder


In The Ballad of Ayesha (2018), Anisul Hoque portrays a young woman named Ayesha and her sufferings in life after a sudden disappearance of her husband, an officer in Bangladesh Air Force, on a fated day in 1977. Ayesha determinedly fights off the woes of life and waits, with a secret hope, for her beloved husband’s return. This tale, also, throws light on a period of extensive instability and bloodshed in the history of a newly independent Bangladesh, when a great mutiny in the armed forces was brutally suppressed by then military ruler General Ziaur Rahman in the aftermath of his ascent to power after the assassination of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in the hands of a group of military officers in 1975. The novel presents this history in the background of Ayesha’s traumatic experiences which are presented in parallel to Behula’s sufferings, a legend found in the popular Bengali folk-epic Manashamangal Kavya, in the wake of her husband Lakhinder’s death by snake-bite on their bridal chamber because of goddess Manasha’s wrath. The fiction, hence, intertwines the personal trauma of an ordinary village woman with the popular myth of Behula in the context of a dark historical chapter of Bangladesh. This paper, thus, investigates the representation of history and myth in this historical novel and argues that the narrative, while presenting individual traumas of Ayesha and Behula, ultimately foregrounds a period of national trauma in the political history of Bangladesh. Analyzing from a historicist perspective, the study opines that The Ballad also challenges some propagandist political narratives which intend to demean Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s contribution as the leader of Bangladesh and tries to uplift the military rulers as saviours of the nation. The paper thus points towards the novelist’s intention to dig out some long buried truths of Bangladesh’s political history in the early years of independence and present it to the modern readership through fiction.


Ayesha’s Trauma, Dark Historical Period of Bangladesh, History and Myth, Manasha’s Wrath, Myth of Behula, National Trauma, Parallel Presentation of Trauma

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7575/aiac.alls.v.12n.6.p.48


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