New Delhi: Indians working in the Gulf often face lack of support from authorities and strict rules in those countries make life miserable for many , says Benyamin, author of the best-selling Malayalam novel "Aadujeevitham" in which he narrates the bitter experience of a Keralite who went missing in West Asia.
"Many of us come to this desert with a dream of money. We know that we may lose our life, our dreams, our health, our home, our nature for the sake of money.
But the reality is still far away. The money is also going away from us like a mirage. At last we are left with nothing. Maybe one percentage of us is only earning money," says Benyamin, who has been working in Bahrain since 1992.
His novel "Aadujeevitham", which won the Kerala Sahitya Akademi award in 2009, has been translated in English as "Goat Days" by Joseph Koyippally and recently published by Penguin.
"The main problem many face is lack of support from authorities. The Indian government and embassies are still giving us poor services. The rules in the countries are strong but will bend always to the side of their nationalities. We may be cheated by anyone any time," the writer told PTI.
According to him, the Gulf is a land of luck.
"Nobody can predict what will be the result of your travel. Your education, your experience, your wealth, nothing will work out there. All depends on chances. You might start life empty hand but in a few years you might be a millionaire," he says.
He describes "Goat Days" as a "story of human suffering, loneliness and alienation and more so of anticipation".
The novel "contains my dreams, my thoughts, my findings, my vision, my solitude, my dryness which I had experienced in my 20 years of life in the Gulf".
In the novel, main character Najeeb`s dearest wish is to work in the Gulf and earn enough money to send back home. He achieves his dream only to be propelled by a series of incidents, grim and absurd, into a slave-like existence herding goats in the middle of the Saudi desert.
Memories of the lush, verdant landscape of his village and of his loving family haunt Najeeb whose only solace is the companionship of goats. In the end, the lonely young man contrives a hazardous scheme to escape his desert prison.
Benyamin tried to incorporate some of his own experiences in "Goat Days".
"There are a few things. Now I cannot separate what part I took from Mr. Najeeb and what I took from my life. I think both are deeply merged together in the novel."
Ask him to compare the two versions and Benyamin finds "Aadujeevitham" more satisfying.
"Certainly it is my `Aadujeevitham`. Because, it is my own baby. `Goat Days` is its photo copy, But it is photo copied very neatly and beautifully, he says.