Humayun Ahmed sensed his death earlier
Humayun Ahmed almost knew where the killer disease called cancer, already spread all over his body through blood streams, was going to take him finally.
And being a writer, he picked up his pen-n-paper yet again to narrate how it would be like to be dead – his premonition of death.
It seems, he had sensed the disease even before the medical diagnosis of cancer in September last year and authored his experiences in “Megher Upor Bari” (house over the clouds), which he published in the National Book Fair he attended in February this year.
Surprisingly, Humayun died exactly the way described in the book, which can be at best termed a mere coincidence or through the writer’s preferred theory of Extrasensory Perception (ESP).
With a dateline of Jamacia, New York, where the writer had fought the fatal disease for close to 10 months, Humayun in a two-paragraph preface to the book writes, “I wrote this novel…when a complex disease named cancer has made my body its abode. I did not know about it until then… Is it true that my sub-conscious mind had the news for a strange reason?”
“I assume it is true. That’s why I have written this novel in the words of a dead man… Why did I write all these? The universe is mysterious.”
Then begins the novel: “I am dead, or am I going to die, I still cannot decide. It seems I am dead.”
The agonist, who has just died, begins telling the story reminding repeatedly, “I am dead.”
Humayun, a charismatic writer, who is often identified affectionately by his fans as ‘a man moonstruck’ for his romanticism for moonlit-night and rain, could not keep up with being dead for long.
His protagonist looked for a console and said, “I now understand, telepathy is a power that comes after death.”
“Living people do not have any telepathic power, dead do have. Don’t know if everyone of the dead has it … at least I have.”
Within a few pages the power, which made many of his fiction characters so influential like Himu, who has strong influence on the younger generation, soon appeared frail confronting another problem of being dead: “Maybe, dead cannot feel by touching. The matter is not clear to me. (Page 18)”
The dead protagonist then wonders why his dead relatives are not coming to give him a lift.
“I knew, relatives crowd around a man dying. They mainly try to make the man’s journey into the unknown world easier. (Page 23)”
Humayun, who wrote over 322 books topping the list of bestsellers for over two decades in Bangladesh due to lucid narratives peppered with humour, takes an absurd break, “How will my hell look like? There will be some of my students …. they will ask me questions I will not be able to answer. (Page 25)”
Coincidentally, the dead protagonist has strange resemblance to the writer, a Ph.D in Polymer Chemistry who taught Chemistry at the Dhaka University. The protagonist is Dr Iftekharul Islam, an Associate Prof of Applied Physics.
“It will definitely make news for newspapers. Media person await such news. A follow-up is published every day. But it stops the 5th or 6th days. Everyone will forget everything” thinks the protagonist as the story develops.
But, how the protagonist is going to keep up the suspense when the writer is distracted by the thought of death?
Well, Humayun Ahmed had his ways.
“There are lot many things to enjoy for the people on earth. Drama-cinema-book-music-arts… Is there any such arrangement in afterlife?” the dead protagonist wonders.
Giving every possible detail centering death, Humayun writes: “We are parts of an entertainment game designed by a master programmer.”
At certain stages, the dead feels the urge to read and sometimes to write, but finds neither pen nor paper. He decides to continue writing in his thoughts. He thinks about the God and finds himself in the ocean of paradox.
He imagines going through the roads in Shalban as his relatives take his remains for burial. He wonders about his wife and her child who cannot get through the stages of video games without his father.
“I have become an observer,” the dead realises sometimes.
The strange thing about the novel is that the writer virtually describes his own death the way it actually came by. The agonist’s aunty dies of colon cancer, which after setting off from colon affected her liver and lungs before rendering her unconscious.
On July 18, a day before the writer died, the Bangladesh’s Permanent Representative at the UN in New York said an unknown virus had attacked the writer, affecting his lungs and liver and that the writer was unconscious.
At the end of Page 95 of the 96-page book, Humayun writes, “I understand, I have to leave. Where will I go? I don’t know. Man does not know from where he comes. Then how is he expected to know where he will go!”
Suddenly the dead protagonist sees lights having abnormal magnetic power pulling him to its centre.
He begins to rush towards the light. He turns for a moment to say, “Men of the earth! Be good. Be happy. I am running towards the light. I know I have to travel an infinite distance. Infinite never finishes. Then how the journey will end? Who will tell me that?”