A GLIMPSE INTO AFGHANISTAN THROUGH SYED MUJTABA ALI’S ‘DESHE BIDESHE’: AN INDIAN VOYAGER'S INSIGHTFUL LENS
Abstract: Syed Mujtaba Ali's Deshe Bideshe, first released in 1948, is a well acclaimed travel narrative that chronicles his encounters in Afghanistan from 1927 to 1929. In this reading, I will focus on the unique characteristic that differentiates it from the conventional travel literature of the era generated via the colonial interaction. Mujtaba Ali's firsthand encounter with colonialism in India, along with his deep understanding of history, endows him with a unique ability to provide insights into Afghanistan's social and cultural metamorphosis at a certain era. The depiction of the Afghan identity in the face of foreign colonial forces and internal turmoil is both stimulating and demanding, since it does not seek to demystify or categorise like colonial works that strive to understand the Oriental. The individual's colonised awareness finds a reason to rejoice in the autonomous Afghan, enabling us to examine his work as a postcolonial piece of literature. Justine D. Edwards and Rune Graulund argue that postcolonial travel writing challenges both the authority of colonial powers in shaping reality and the connection between travel and dominance. They assert this in their book "Postcolonial Travel Writing: Critical Explorations" (3). Hence, although Robert Byron's travelogue "The Road to Oxiana" (1937), which was written a few years after Ali's visit, presents Afghanistan as a historical artefact in need of British safeguarding, an account of Afghanistan by a colonised Indian criticises the connection between travel and domination and aims to foster a dialogue between southern regions, driven by the aspiration for regional cooperation.
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Conclusion: This research will examine Ali's tale in relation to travelogues from the colonial period, specifically comparing it to Robert Byron's "The Road to Oxiana." Ali's sincere curiosity for the Afghan people, without any romanticization, confronts the conventional viewpoint of Western explorers, providing subtle and detailed understandings of Afghan identity, culture, and nationality. His work is a significant postcolonial literary composition that illuminates the socio-cultural transformation of Afghanistan at a critical period. Ali's analysis of nationalism, tradition, and modernity provides a perspective through which we may comprehend not just Afghanistan's historical context but also the wider implications of colonialism and the changing global environment.