“Raja Gidh” is a renowned novel by Bano Qudsia. Banu Qudsia is a prominent Pakistani novelist and playwright.
Raja Gidh was first published in 1981. It has become a classic of Pakistani literature and is widely regarded as a masterpiece in Urdu fiction.
The novel delves into complex themes of love, morality, society, and human nature. It captivates readers with its rich storytelling and thought-provoking insights.
Bano Qudsia’s compelling writing style, vivid descriptions, and deeply emotional narrative make “Raja Gidh” a powerful exploration of the human condition and a literary masterpiece.
In this review write-up of Raja Gidh, we will delve into the summary and analysis of the novel.
Raja Gidh Complete Summary
The novel opens in a classroom setting. Readers are introduced to the main characters of the novel who are all class fellows.
The story primarily revolves around a village boy who studies at Government College Lahore. His name is Qayyum. He is a student of M.A Sociology.
Other students in the class include five girls and five boys. The prominent students in the class are Aftab and Seemi. Aftab is actually the only son of the most famous and successful carpet seller in the city.
Both Seemi and Aftab fell in love with each other in the very first class.
On the other hand, Qayyum and Professor Sohail were also get attracted to Seemi. Seemi is a daughter of a bureaucrat.
Her father keeps illegitimate relations with girls of Seemi’s age. Despite all efforts, Seemi’s mother has failed to control her husband.
Seemi is living in a hostel to avoid such a toxic environment at home. In fact, she is enjoying a life of freedom.
Seemi was infatuated with Aftab. But Aftab’s mother rejected Seemi as her son’s wife. Aftab didn’t take any stand for Seemi.
As his mother rejected Seemi, Aftab got engaged to his cousin Zeba. This event actually turned Seemi’s life upside down.
Aftab left Seemi and Seemi suddenly left the college before the final exams.
Qayyum and Aftab were roommates in the hostel. After leaving college, Seemi started visiting Qayyum’s room in the hostel.
Aftab leaves Pakistan for London and Seemi is now completely shattered from the inside. This prompted Seemi to spend more time with Qayyum to recollect Aftab’s memories.
In the novel, we see Qayyum and Seemi spending time in Jinnah Bagh under the Camphor tree. Aftab remains the primary subject of their discussion.
Meanwhile, being opposite genders, they often cross the limits. But they never feel ashamed of their actions.
These days Seemi is living in the most notorious hostel in the city. Seemi is also sexually involved with other men. It is depicted that Seemi is searching for Aftab in other men.
One day, Seemi fell severely ill. Apparently, she reached this condition because of Aftab whom she could not see anymore.
She is undergoing treatment and Qayyum is taking care of all the expenses. One night, she consumes a large number of sleeping pills and commits suicide.
This is the turning point of Qayyum’s life. He loses his mental balance and experiences hallucinations. Such conditions continue until some other woman enters his life.
Then, Qayyum meets Abida, a simple household woman. She is a married woman but hates her husband. She meets Qayyum in his room.
Abida is a religious woman. They both discuss multiple social and psychological issues.
Qayyum also develops physical relations with her. However, being a religious woman, Abida repents and no longer stays with Qayyum.
Then one day, Qayyum meets Professor Sohail. Professor Sohail sees Qayyum’s mental condition. He suggests Yoga to Qayyum. He believes that meditation will relieve Qayyum from his psychological illness.
However, Qayyum could not continue it. Since Qayyum has tasted Haram, he only finds comfort in Haram.
Professor Sohail explains to Qayyum that he is working on his theory. This theory suggests that haram results in madness. Such madness passes down to generations through genes and hormones.
Professor Sohail is working on his theory in America. He is studying the impact of “haram” on psychology, life, children, etc.
But Qayyum does not pay much heed to the theory.
After Abida, a 42 years old prostitute enters Qayyum’s life. Her name is Imtal. Through Imtal, the novel sheds light on the life of a prostitute.
Imtal is a garrulous woman who meets Qayyum at a Radio Station. Imtal has her own philosophy of life.
One night beneath the Camphor tree, Imtal and Qayyum discuss the philosophy of life at length. The very next day, Imtal is murdered by her own son.
After these unfortunate events, Qayyum decides to leave haram. He asks his sister-in-law to find a girl for his marriage.
So, Qayyum gets married to Roshan who apparently appears to be a simple woman with a strong character.
On the very first night, she tells Qayyum that she is carrying a child of a man named Iftikhar. This was another devastating news for Qayyum.
Qayyum does not share the bed with Roshan nor he develops any sexual relationship with her.
Rather, he allows Roshan to run away with Iftikhar who is currently in Saudia. He calls Iftikhar from Saudia, divorces Roshan, and gets them married. Roshan leaves for Saudia with Aftikhar afterward.
Later on, Qayyum again meets Professor Sohail. He tells Qayyum that he was in love with Seemi.
He reveals to Qayyum that it was he who tells Aftab that Seemi is a characterless girl.
This led to the separation between them.
Lastly, we are introduced to Aftab’s son “Ifraheem” who resembles Seemi. He is physically abnormal. But his eyes can see the spiritual world. He sees things nobody else could see. He explains what he sees but nobody believes him.
However, Qayyum understands his condition. He analyzes and explains the situation of Ifraheem. This ends the novel.
A parallel plot that runs in the novel is of the birds who hold vultures accountable for madness. They demand the vultures be ousted from the jungle.
There is a long debate among animals and birds on vulture’s madness. It is established that since vultures eat haraam, this leads to their madness.
This second plot is directly related to Professor Sohail’s theory. Moreover, it also relates to the condition of Qayyum. Qayyum is the real Gidh in the novel.
Prominent Themes in the Novel
Raja Gidh delves into several thought-provoking themes that are central to the human condition and society. The following are the four most prominent themes used in the novel.
1. Love and Desire
The novel explores different forms of love and desire, ranging from romantic love to familial love. Moreover, it also explores the consequences of unfulfilled desires.
For instance, Seemi’s unrequited love for Aftab. Similarly, Professor Sohail and Qayyum’s unreturned and one-sided attraction toward Seemi.
Thus, Raja Gidh highlights the complexities and consequences of human emotions.
2. Morality and Ethics
Bano Qudsia questions societal norms and traditional moral values through the experiences of the characters. The novel challenges the notions of right and wrong and raises ethical dilemmas. It invites readers to ponder on the nature of morality and its impact on human behavior.
3. Religion and Spirituality
The characters’ search for meaning and purpose leads them toward religion and spirituality. The novel explores the role of faith in shaping human beliefs and actions.
Furthermore, it raises questions about the true essence of spirituality and its place in modern society.
4. Society and Gender Roles
Raja Gidh also delves into the societal expectations and gender roles prevalent in Pakistani society.
Seemi’s struggle against societal norms and Aftab’s masculinity highlights the constraints and challenges faced by individuals in conforming to social expectations.
Critical Evaluation of Raja Gidh
“Raja Gidh” by Bano Qudsia is a literary masterpiece that offers a profound exploration of human emotions, societal norms, and philosophical questions.
The novel’s strengths lie in its rich characterization, evocative writing style, and thought-provoking themes.
The writing style of “Raja Gidh” is poetic, evocative, and deeply emotional, creating a vivid and immersive reading experience.
Bano Qudsia’s use of the Urdu language and cultural references adds authenticity and richness to the narrative, making it a unique and powerful work of Urdu fiction.
Bano Qudsia’s portrayal of complex characters, their struggles, desires, and conflicts, makes them relatable and adds depth to the narrative.
The impact of “Raja Gidh” on Urdu literature and society cannot be overstated. The novel has been widely recognized for its literary value and has earned a prominent place in Pakistani literature.
It continues to be studied, discussed, and appreciated for its profound insights into the human condition, making it a timeless work of literature.
However, some readers may find the novel’s tragic undertones and philosophical musings challenging to digest. The novel requires deep introspection and reflection, and may not be everyone’s cup of tea.
Additionally, the novel’s cultural context and Urdu language may pose a barrier for readers who are not familiar with Pakistani society and culture.
It’s important to note that not all works of literature are universally liked, and personal preferences play a significant role in readers’ opinions.
While “Raja Gidh” is highly regarded by many, it may not resonate with all readers for the reasons mentioned above or other individual factors.
You can buy “RAJA GIDH” from Amazon
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