Is the cry of a newborn baby pain … or joy? There is no universally accepted answer to this question, but it is undeniable that although there is joy in creation, it begins with pain. Some of that pain is revealed, but much remains unknown. Zakaria Muhammad Moeen Uddin’s novel ‘Swapner Immigration’ is about the joys and pains, victories and defeats and not being found, of Tamal and Tithi, who came to live in a new country, Canada. Life is never bleak at home and abroad, past or present. Only those who walk the thorny path and stand up with bloody feet can reach the mountaintop. There is a Hindi proverb ‘Yo jita ohi sikandar’. Immigrants who come to live in a new country therefore have to accept all the differences, endure all the traumas and at the same time have to build themselves anew. Only then dreams become reality.
The process of human migration began about 175 million years ago, when nomadic people wandered from one habitat to another in the Neolithic period in search of food. After the beginning of agricultural civilization, people were forced to go through a process of migration, sometimes voluntarily and sometimes involuntarily, even if they wanted to live in the same area. People migrate to other countries due to war, deportation, slavery, human trafficking, ethnic cleansing, natural disasters, epidemics etc. The First and Second World Wars, wartime genocide and related crises had a major impact on immigration. Currently, people are being forced to leave the country due to Afghanistan crisis, war in Syria, war in Ukraine etc. Also, people from underdeveloped countries are coming as immigrants to developed countries in the hope of a better life or to use the benefits of modern technology or because of insecurity. Developed countries tend to accept immigrants to deal with the economic crisis caused by their declining population growth rates. After confederation in 1867, Canada enacted specific immigration policies to maintain the country’s economic momentum by accepting immigrants. The 2021 census showed that one out of every four people in Canada is an immigrant, the highest in Canada and among the G-7 countries since Confederation. Thus, out of the thousands of immigrants who came to Canada from different countries, author Zakaria chose a young couple for the story of his novel ‘Dream Immigration’. This couple left their jobs and came to the dream country of Canada with their only son, full of hope.
When immigrants leave their motherland and settle in a new country, they bring and practice the country’s culture, art, music, and literature. American writer Ernest Hemingway settled in Cuba in 1940. His magnum opus ‘The Old Man and the Sea’ was published in 1952 and the following year he won the Pulitzer Prize and the Nobel Prize for this novel. The novel was written in the context of Cuba about the life struggle and philosophy of an old fisherman Santiago. In her novel ‘Swimming Back to Trout River’, Canadian Chinese writer Linda Rui Feng writes about the struggle of father Momo and mother Cashier, who immigrate to America after leaving their daughter Juni alone in a small village in China. He received the Scotiabank Giller Award for this novel. Again, expatriate Bangladeshi writers have left their mark by discussing mainstream Canadian literature. Author Subrata Kumar Das’s book ‘Kanadiya Sahitya: Dissociative Thought’ discusses the literary works of 28 mainstream Canadian writers, where many stories of the writings, philosophies and lives of these mainstream writers emerge. Similarly, the stories of Canadian life can be found in the works of Bangladeshi writers who came to Canada, where the stories of happiness, sadness, joy and pain of the first or second generation immigrants who came to Canada come up; There are various strategies and tips for survival in this new country, the emotions and psyche of the immigrants are known. Apart from the main character Kabir in the novel ‘Immigration’ written by Salma Bani, there are many other life stories including Ravi, Dildar, Chunnu Chowdhury, Mili, who continue to find various ways to survive in this lonely, uncertain exile. Jasim Mallik’s ‘Aam Ekab Rishti Khekhah’, the novel, reflects the thoughts of a second-generation migrant immigrant who repeatedly finds the story of his parents’ struggles in a new country. In Shahid Khondkar’s novel ‘Bhulsatya’, he wrote the emotional story of a young woman who came to Canada to study. Similarly, author Zakaria wrote the story of Tamal and Tithi, newly arrived immigrants in Canada, who struggle to survive in this foreign land in the novel ‘Dream Immigration’.
Young couple Tamal and Tithi come to Canada with the dream of better treatment for autistic child Titus. Friend Parag brings them from the airport and arranges them to stay in a rented basement and talks to his boss to arrange a factory job for Tamal. But Tamal lost his factory job within three days due to not being used to factory work. Meanwhile, Titus’ school principal Tamal Tithi is called in for calling a kid a ‘nigro’ during school play and discusses the very bright and respected subject of Canadian culture, ‘Black Heritage and History’, a topic completely new to a man who grew up in Bangladesh. Meanwhile, when the money brought from the country almost runs out, Tamal-Tithi becomes dependent on social assistance. In such a situation, if a friend leaves the shelter of the basement and starts subletting in Parag’s flat, the distance between Tamal and Parag is also created. Loss of job, unwelcoming environment in child’s school, so-called shame of taking social assistance, deterioration of relationship with Parag – all this leads to deterioration of Tamal and Tithi’s husband-wife relationship and one day Tamal loses patience and lays hands on Tithi. As a result, he had to stay in jail for three months. After returning from jail, Tamal Thithi decides to return home.
But hard times come in their lives in the country too. The decision to leave a better life in a developed country and leave for the country disappoints relatives; Tithi’s university colleagues are skeptical; It becomes difficult for Tamal to find a new job. At such a time their only child Titus lost his life in a road accident.
Neglect of relatives, war of jobs, pain of premature loss of only child, polluted weather of the country, irregularities etc., it is equally difficult to feel Tamal and Tithi and start a new life in the country or abroad. So they decided to come back to Canada again. Learning from the experiences of first arrival, Tamal-Tithi starts all over again. They soon became the parents of a daughter. Tithi graduated from Ryerson University and got a government job. Tamal on the other hand became successful as a real estate businessman. Beautiful house, expensive car, happiness, wealth is spent in life. They also have many friends in the Bengali community. Even Parag, who first came to be disillusioned, visits Tamal after he is diagnosed with cancer, extending a hand of sympathy. Life flows according to the rules of life. Tamal reaches the end of life. And Tithi also reaches the evening of life. The sweet words of Ahana, the only grandson, pass the day and the night is filled with the memories of life partner Tamal.
In the novel ‘Swapner Immigration’, the characters Tamal and Tithi who are new immigrants to Canada are seen struggling to adapt to the new country, sometimes getting confused; Despairing, sometimes becoming optimistic. Titus, the only son, once created an unpleasant situation at school, but after Titus’ death, the condolences of schoolmates and neighbors comforted them. In the author’s words, ‘Forgetting caste, caste, creed, this expression of compassion for human beings captivated Tamal Tithi’ (p. 156). Again, when there is any uncertainty due to job or other reasons, Tamal sinks into the sea of despair and says, ‘If you understand, there is no point in being a Pargacha in Tithi Prabas, let’s go back to the country as a son of the country’ (p. 94). In the novel, the author also portrays the image of Bangladeshi immigrants who came to Canada. Many of these Bangladeshis extend a helping hand to the newcomers, while many mock the new immigrants. Many people mislead with wrong information about immigration without knowing it. As a result, many new immigrants are scared and leave the country. In the author’s words, ‘however, with sympathy, the right advice or a little guidance, the lives of many newcomers in the diaspora could easily change’ (p. 79).
All these characters are very familiar and real to readers in Canada. These stories are like the reader’s own life struggle and success story. The novel ‘Swapner Immigration’ was published in Canada’s most widely read weekly ‘Banglamail’ before it was published in the bookstore. Therefore, Chief Executive of Banglamail newspaper and CEO of NRB Television Shahidul Islam Mintu was able to notice this reaction of the reader during the publication of the novel. He called the author as a ‘social analyst’ on the front flap of the book and wrote, ‘…to be able to connect with the reader in this way, this is the great success of Zakaria Muhammad Moeen Uddin.’
The novel ‘Dream Immigration’ also highlights the wonderful aspects of Canadian immigrant life. A quick rescue by divers and a helicopter ambulance service when little Titus drowned on a trip to Niagara is described as something out of a movie, but it’s very real in Canada. Bravery triumphed in every story of Columbus’s discovery of America or Hillary’s conquest of Everest or Sukum Jim’s gold discovery in the Yukon Territory. Similarly, Canadian immigration life is for brave people who need a lot of patience. In the words of the author, ‘Nature favors the brave. Abandoning the illusion of kinship in the country in the hope of changing fortunes … nature probably had its hand’ (p. 160). But it takes time to settle the family job in this exile. Some take less time, some take more time. But this is not a golden deer. To illustrate the point, the author narrates a Chinese fable where the crops of the land did not get proper sunlight due to the shadow of a mountain. One day when a farmer started cutting that hill, the villagers tried to discourage him. The farmer replied, ‘I know I can’t finish cutting this hill, I only started, my son will cut another step, then his son, his son, one day the hill will really be cut, enough light will come to the land’ (p. 181). The dream of uprooting the country and spreading its branches on new foreign soil and touching the sky will surely be realized one day, but for that, the first step must be taken with unwavering faith like that Chinese farmer.
The book ‘Dream Immigration’ is published by Saptarshi, with a release date of February 2023. The cover of the book is done by Al Noman. On the cover is a blue mask surrounded by a plane in a white sky. The blue face shows the pain of the new immigrant and the face has depression in its eyes. Flying white sky is the light direction of future hope. He wrote popular series ‘Homeless’, ‘Josna Mansion’, Single Mother’ etc. He also writes regularly in various magazines. The novel ‘Swapner Emigration’, published in the already well-loved book, is a brilliant addition to the new genre of Canadian Bengali literature. Good luck to the author.
Samina Chowdhury joined the teaching profession after obtaining a master’s degree in English literature from Jahangirnagar University. He also served in the Bangladesh UNESCO Commission while teaching in a government college. Joined Brac University in 2005. A total of nine peer reviews of Samina have been published at home and abroad. Samina, an immigrant to Canada since 2013, has been working in TD Bank’s customer care department for five years.