Subash Singh Parajuli
‘Wake Up Ali, Wake up ‘ a debuted novel by Sumit Sharma, aka Sameer visualizes for the vibrant issues of Nepalese labor migration in third world countries through the recognizable character Ali. Belonged to a small town in Pakistan, our protagonist Ali sets a dream to get a prosperous life in Canada. Though placed in a foreign country, he is constantly reminded of his homeland whose family members are waiting each month to hail him. He had wished not to flee from his family but he couldn’t help out since earning bread and butter was very difficult in his home town. And many a times, he had to bear bitter consequences that caused him to leave his family and country.
The novel is dreamy, elegiac, and it portrays familial graphics, illustrated in a neo- surrealistic way. Ali represents the identity crisis experienced by each migrant in a new land who encounters loneliness during the course of his struggle for survival. The book becomes more appealing to the readers when Ali, Zara and Riya suffer one after while they are in the pursuit of happiness and wealth. The book engages the reader with the endurance and instinctual movement of Ali who is driven to constant movement by force which he cannot control or understand, and is determined and driven even in the face of great adversity for good living.
Basically, this book echoes the common hardships of the people of Southeast countries and shows how they are driven to migrate to affluent countries due to poor governance, terrorism, poverty and lack of opportunities back in their country. Zara, a female character, cannot bear their poverty- stricken life and thus forces her husband Ali to move to their dream country Canada after seeing a pathetic condition of her husband who cannot even supply some basic needs to their daughter.
This novel is something of a hybrid that involves both an adventure story of a migrant worker and a speculative triangular love story, constantly slipping between a kind of literary realism and more esoteric elements, between moments of love affair drama – such as when Ali visits the university and patched with Riya who else forgot about his lovely wife Zara and small daughter. Author Sameer structures much of the book and fleshes out his characters presenting Ali as a metaphor, who, often describes himself as a “marvel machine”, has so deep identification with the dystopian world that he often dreams of turning into one, or wanderings around the world are described as instinctual and “in his self realized nature”, just like a migration. The book also portrays the destructive actions of human beings and also their impact on the next generation.
Nevertheless, this aching and poignant novel has appeared at the appropriate time reflecting the story of the many migrant workers around the world. At times, the book is devastating in its depictions of grief, especially the wider, harder-to-grasp grief of living in a world that has changed catastrophically, where administrations and migrants are scrambling to obtain a good life in others’ landscape. But it’s also a book about love, about trying to understand and accept the conjugal life and family that exists within us, and what it means to be a human so that we might better accommodate our wildness within the world despite we have restless shifting for a better lifestyle.