Haroun And the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie

haroun6This story started at a city that was really sad that it even forgot its own real name. There, sadness was packaged and sent around the world in large sadness factories. Sadness hung like pollution on top of towns and almost everyone was sad. Why I said ‘almost’ is because there was one happy family. A family with the father named Rashid Khalifa, a mother named Soraya, and their son named Haroun. Rashid was a story teller. He told stories to everyone in this town. Everybody loved his stories. He just needed to open his mouth and wonderful stories would come out. To fans, he was called ‘The Ocean of Notions’ and to  those who were jealous, ‘The Shah of Blah’.

Soraya was a bright and cheerful woman, who always sang  melodious songs, but one day, she stopped singing, in a middle of a line, but Rashid the storyteller, the Ocean of Notions, the Shah of Blah, did not even notice what had happened. He was always far and away and did not know what was going on at home.

It seemed that Rashid’s family shared the house with some neighbors who lived upstairs. One of them was named Miss Oneeta Sengupta, who lived with her husband, Mr. Sengupta. Mr. Sengupta and Miss. Oneeta liked to come down from their floor and visited Soraya and Haroun. Mr. Sengupta really hated storytellers and would talk all the nonsense about Rashid to Soraya. Haroun picked up a sentence that Mr Sengupta said, What are the use of stories that are not even true?

One day, it rained. There were delicious promfret in the sea at this time of the year, and people could take a break from glumfish. The rain also washed the sadness pollution. When Haroun arrived home from school, the first thing he found out was that his mother, Soraya, had ran away with the cruel Mr. Sengupta. Soraya had asked Rashid at exactly eleven o’clock to find Haroun’s missing socks. Since Haroun was good at losing socks, Soraya had enough time to run away. By that time they found out, she had left a note on all the bad things Mr Sengupta had said about Rashid. Rashid was mad, really mad, and he smashed all the clocks in the house.

Rashid was piteous state made Haroun angry. He shouted at his father; the words that started his adventure: “WHAT ARE THE USE OF STORIES THAT ARE NOT EVEN TRUE?” Haroun left Rashid dumb struck.

After that incident, Haroun couldn’t concentrate for more than eleven minutes. His brain became fuzzy. Miss Oneeta thought it was located in his puss-collar-jee. “Owing to pussy-collar-jeecal sadness, the young master is stuck fast on his number eleven and cannot get to twelve,” that was what Miss Oneeta had said.

Soon, Rashid was invited to tell some stories in the Town of G, to the Valley of K which nestled in the Mountains of M.  (the country of Alifbay, the places were named by alphabets.) To get there, they must pass the Mountain of M and the tunnel of I or also called J. The story telling that performed in the Town of G was a complete  disaster. When Rashid opened his mouth, what came out was NOT a story of  dragons, or a classic story. It was NOT a story about love, or fantasy, or adventures. What came out was the words: “Ark! Ark!”

They were kicked out without a ceremony and even a proper goodbye. The security guards were threatening Rashid and Haroun. Rashid was telling them that he would make up for everything he did in the Valley of K. To get there, it was a life threatening; to even get a bus ticket, you had to win a wrestling match. Haroun soon had a chat with a bus driver named Butt. After Haroun telling his problem and his need to go to the Valley of K by nightfall, Butt said, “But but but… Okay, best seats are reserved for you and your father.”

Rashid finally emerged from the crowd, waving a ticket. Lots of women and men were watching them with jealousy for Haroun had got the best seats. They were tired of running around being tricked by bus drivers for they want the best seats of the bus.

In 3…2…1… the bus ride would start. “Full speed ahead!” screamed Butt the driver.

It was the worst nightmare ride you could imagine. In order to keep his promise to Haroun, Butt the driver drove at full speed, narrowly missing a sign that said…

“IF FROM SPEED YOU GET YOUR THRILL

TAKE PRECAUTION-MAKE YOUR WILL”

Butt zoomed ahead to the mountain of M. There he cheerily pointed to spots where there were really bad accidents that involving lots of people killed. They passed some more signs which is related to the above sign. Soon, after lots of screams, they arrived in the Valley of K, just in time to see the beautiful sunset.

After a talk with Snotty Buttoo, Haroun found out that the moody lake from his one of his father’s stories were true. They were sent to their room called ‘Arabian Nights Plus One.’ Haroun was to sleep on a turtle bed while Rashid was to sleep on a peacock bed. But they exchanged beds in the middle of the night because they couldn’t sleep in their own beds.

Soon after having their beds changed, Haroun was awaken again. There was something… or somebody in the bathroom, Haroun went to investigate, and that was when he saw a water genie by the name of Iff, who was holding a Disconnector and was going to disconnect his father’s water supply for his stream of stories.

Haroun quickly stole the disconnector and refused to give it back to Iff. He forced him to go and meet the walrus so his father can get the stream of stories again. So there they went, on top of a Hoopoe bird machine with the same crazy personality as Butt the driver. His name is also coincidentally Butt.

They went to earth’s second moon. Kahani. It circled the earth so fast that no instrument in earth could detect the moon’s presence. The water in Kahani was poluted, so Haroun could not wish anything from there. They also met a floating gardener and two plentimau fishes, which were pronounced like plenty mouthes, named Goopy and Bagha. From the fishes, Haroun learnt that silence was rudeness.

Then they arrived in Gup City, exactly when the armies were about to have war. There was a prince named Bolo, who was going to marry Batcheat. A really ugly lady, so here was what happened: Batcheat was kidnapped! Haroun met his father and a page named Blabbermouth who was actually a girl in disguise (as he found out later in the story).

They met a Khamosh warrior that had ran away named Mudra. He told them that they needed to defeat Khattam-Shud and his shadow. So they splited. Haroun and his team defeated Khattam-Shud’s shadow with wish-water, making the whole new world bright again. The others defeated the other Khattam-Shud by the help of Haroun’s light.

Haroun was rewarded and everybody got upgraded in ranks. When Haroun returned home, he found out, not a day has passed. Rashid was soon told to tell the story to the Valley of K. The story he told was not about dragons or classical stories. It was not love, fantasy and adventure stories. It was ‘Haroun and the Sea of Stories’.

Then the crowd screamed. That was the end of Snooty Buttoo’s political life. Nobody vote for him. He was thrown rubbish and called Khattam-Shud. Then when Haroun and his father returned home, the city had found its name. It was called Kahani. They suspected what the Walrus had done. At the end of the story, Soraya finally returned. And  she also started to sing again.

***

 There are many characters in the book. So many that sometimes I am getting lost at them. They are unique in their own ways. I think they must be symbolizing something.

  • Soraya represents happiness and sadness. Her songs represents happiness, and when she stops singing, the bad stuffs soon start to begin.
  • Snooty Buttoo was like Khattam-Shud. He represents silence of language.
  • Butt the Hoopoe represents the bridge between Kahani and Earth.
  • Rashid represents speech, the other side of coin, of Snooty Butto.

“Silence is rude” is one of the funny quotes of this book. I like the quote very much. What happens if “Silence is Rude” in our world? I won’t be able to concentrate at all. A lot of people talking without taking turn to listen. To whom should I listen if everyone is speaking at the same time? That would be really confusing. Freedom of speech means you could speak anything whenever you want to; however at the end people get to stop and respect to the one who is talking. In the other word, we should learn how to listen, too.

This is a story IN a story. There are a lot of books that take this way of story telling. For example, Haroun and The Sea of Stories reminds me of The Solitaire Mystery by the author Jostein Gaarder, which I have read some years before.

The writer, Salman Rushdie is a very famous writer. He wrote eleven novels and the famous one is The Satanic Verses that offended Islam religion. He was forced to go into hiding with armed of policemen because he was threated to be killed. He was awarded the Booker Prize. His other children’s book Luka And the Fire of Life looks interesting, I want to read it later. And of course, including his other works, especially his most controversial novel: The Satanic Verses.

What I like about Haroun and the Sea of Stories is it is a fantasy book with lots of  journey inside. It’s an excellent book. Indeed!

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