A satirical look at Islam and an improbable use of a burqa.
By Perth Dan.
A combination of Hamid’s exploits and his old man’s fundamentalist religious beliefs entwine in an enthralling tale that mesmerises and makes it hard to put down. Initially sceptical of the novel play format, I found it an easy read and the style lent itself to the comical story line. Cid Andrenelli has succeeded in captivating her audience.
The Burqa master is a paradoxical drama and comedy exploring the lives of an Iranian father and son exiled in London.
The father, lost between the mosque and tins of Turkish delight, is a diabetic sugar addict who shoots up insulin, passing from stupor and self-pity to holy fervour, crashing about, shouting sermons and dropping syringes around the house.
He finds himself forced to live with the devil when his son-in-law Abbas converts to Buddhism and takes to wearing Japanese silk kimonos and Geta wooden Japanese flip flops on high wooden blocks.
“And what is this you are wearing tonight?” He stood up and pointed at Abbas, his voice rising. “A lady’s dressing gown? What are those wooden contraptions you have upon your feet? My God, what is this? Has my idiot daughter married a sissy boy? A pansy?
“I’ve become a Buddhist and follow the eightfold path.”
“Buddhist my arse, what is this Buddhist rot? You were born a Muslim and will always be Muslim, so shut your bloody mouth and stop blaspheming. Who do you think you are?” He shrugged his shoulders, waving his arms in Abbas’s face.“You are a donkey, that’s why you think you’re a Buddhist! A Muslim should never give the Quran to a Buddhist; they mistake it for a comic book, with a Mickey Mouse character called Mohammed in it. You’re an imbecile just like them!”
The old man’s son Hamid tries to humour his father by working in the family shop and taking part in the dawn prayers accompanied by Muezzin chants on the ghetto blaster. In reality Hamid is an unrepentant libertine living the Muslim paradise here and now as he recruits Muslim female shop clients to sex sessions.
Disguising himself as a widow in a burqa, Hamid gives ‘English lessons’ to Muslim housewives in the privacy of their bedrooms, while their husbands happily pay.
The father and son relationship is played out in a series of heated dialogues written in a dynamic play format. Hamid mocks the Hadiths and Sharia, as they argue over Abbas’s apostasy, angels, adultery and every tiny rule.
The old man hides himself in his religion, dreaming of a future paradise, refusing to see he has it right now in front of him.
The introduction of Turpin, an abandoned dog into the family home is the turning point for the old man. Islam forces him to live as a hypocrite and this ends in a religious anarchy. The old man complains that Turpin is the only one who ever listens to him, then realises he’s spending his days alone in the house chatting to a forbidden dog.
“You didn’t have to let him on the bed. He could sleep on the floor!”
“Shut up, what do you know? He suffers from the cold. You might have moved out but you’re not taking Turpin with you.”
“I don’t want him.”
“He’s the only one who listens to me, just think of that! I have a son, but the only one I can talk to is a dog and he’s not even permitted!”
Through this relationship with the stray dog, Cid Andrenelli narrates a poignant journey, where logic and intelligence arrive at a point where not even the old man can accept Islam in its entirety.
In the end the old man is knocked down on his prayer mat by a cathedral chandelier with one thousand watts, causing him to relive a dark secret buried in his faded memories.
A violent scene written in shimmering poetry as the old man remembers his own public flogging, for a crime he’d commit again given the chance, as desire has no morality or religion.
Woven throughout this novel are a host of weird and wonderful characters that could have dropped from the pages of the Arabian Nights, the ancient dwarf doll who sits on a dusty rosewood commode, her arthritic hands encrusted with rings while her daughter-in-law Zina loots her jewel box, Fatima and the kebab boy, and Mummy Akbar who gets floored trying to arrange the perfect marriage.
The book is available as an e-book or paperback on Amazon where you can read inside the book.