|About the Book|
There are estimated 301,139,947 people living in America as of July 2007. Out of this how many can make us laugh about the terrors of 9-11-01, which changed our lives for ever? Not a one. Push this frontier of imagination some more and ask. How manyMoreThere are estimated 301,139,947 people living in America as of July 2007. Out of this how many can make us laugh about the terrors of 9-11-01, which changed our lives for ever? Not a one. Push this frontier of imagination some more and ask. How many can even conceive of laughing within themselves at the tragedy of 9-11-01, let alone make others laugh? Again not a one. It proves that Ba Tejani is unique among the millions in making us laugh at the force of terrorism in his play Trial by Mischief. Different from the billion of India, where his ancestors come from, and from the nearly billion Africans who socialised his sensibilities. Yet his design or the story to make us laugh at terror is so simple and effective that almost everyone will say, as they watch this marvelous comedy, “I could have done that” or, “why didn’t I think of that?” Trial by mischief, Tejani’s seventh play, is a comic farce dealing with the psychology of fear. It is included in his selected works under the title Laughing in the face of terrorism. Here a Punjabi Sikh immigrant with a turban gets mistaken for a follower of Bin Ladan on the first day of his job. The building where he works as a receptionist is vacated due to a bomb scare. And during the exodus, the officials, a doctor, judge, professor, priest and general, prevail upon the immigrant to mind their offices. He does this with the great gusto of a new immigrant, on his first day on the job in his new homeland of America. Thus he gets to be a doctor, a general and a judge, all in one day, improvising with native wits as he goes on. At the end of the day he gets a promotion for a job well done and encouraged by this, he decides to dedicate his life to teach the Americans how to speak proper English. This absurd idea and event is naturally filled with mischief and its companion laughter. There are logical confusions in the court between ‘habeas corpus’ and ‘has been a corpse’. Between clinical assumptions and folk response. Doctor (to immigrant): You are not hearing any voices in your head are you?” Immigrant: Oh yes doctor. Plenty of voices. One of them is saying, “Where is my lunch?” [Pause] Another says, “Where are you going to sleep tonight?” “A third one wants to look for a sexy woman to live with” (pause). The fourth one is saying “Why have only one? Plenty of NICE women in America.” This absurd world has been captured in a video of the dramatized play reading by the author and his friends with a live audience rocking with laughter.As one of the richest and original creative compositions from the East African region, this collection by Ba Tejani, East Africa’s most versatile writer, has poems, plays, poetic tales and passionalls written over a span of nearly half a century, indicative of the writer’s long apprenticeship to his craft. The sophisticated style, variety of imagery, boldness of designs, depth of philosophic wisdom and the author’s intimate voice, invite the reader to become a continuous participant in the enterprise of reading the 444 pages of excellent literature. The good quality of the writing can be seen in the vivid image created by the artist for his own journey of discovery in which he and we take “flight in a solar powered spacecraft to destinations every writer wants to travel. A world of imagination, novelty and mystery, an unending story full of rich discoveries, the world without time, space and inhibition.” The discovery is based on the inspiration created in him by Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka and his friend Henry Louis Gates Jr. of Harvard, and their words of encouragement. As a result Tejani creates pathways to serene study and thoughtful conversations on culture, art and human existence in Laughing in the face of Terrorism.