Writer Huma Kidwai’s novel looks at the richness and diversity of a Muslim household
Fiction, according to writer Huma Kidwai, is a subversive thing. Her own novel, The Hussaini Alam House, attempts to capture the social and political changes in Hyderabad through a rather turbulent period.
“I have tried to outline the socio-political changes in Hyderabad over a 100-year period — ranging from the late 19 century to the 1990s,” says the author who is here in the city for the inauguration of the Chikmagalur Muslim House at DakshinaChitra.
Hyderabad, according to her, evolved differently from the rest of India because it was never under the British, “Not that it hasn’t seen bad days. After the police action in Hyderabad, when the Indian government took over, countless Muslims were fired from their jobs — there was suddenly 60,000 new rickshaw-pullers in the city,” she says, adding that her book attempts to also explore the changed Hindu-Muslim relationships.
She attempts to kill the stereotype of the Muslim through her writing, “The extreme right wing mullah doesn’t represent all Muslims. Not all of us wear a burqa and a skull cap. A Muslim household is like any other household and my book looks at the richness and diversity of it.”
The house, in fact, is the central character of the novel and the story outlines the lives of the people who live in it.
Though not strictly autobiographical, the stories in it are derived from, “people I know, my own experience and what I’ve heard,” she says. The book also laments the passing of the past in more ways than one, “It refers to the loss of Dastan — an ancient Persian form of storytelling, for instance. I have also tried to show what social, intercommunity relationships used to be. We live in boxes today — there is no cultural space, no social network,” she says.
Huma, an engineer-turned-entrepreneur, who gave it all up to write, is also an avid reader of sociology. On future plans, “Writing is something I’ve always wanted to do. There is another book and an anthology of short stories on its way.”