|The Crooked Neem Tree
ISBN 984 8715 037 2006 118pp 220x140mm HB Tk.350.00 US$23.00
Written in 1971, but not published till a decade later, The Crooked Neem Tree narrates the story of Seema, a young Punjabi girl growing up in East Pakistan in the early sixties. Despite her sheltered life, Seema gradually becomes aware of social injustices and personal betrayals, initially through the experiences of her friends, She falls in love with Tanvir, a young “Bihari,” but becomes engaged to Qamar, a Punjabi cousin, when Tanvir breaks off their relationship. Learning that Qamar was responsible for a friend’s unhappiness, she ends the engagement and turns to Khalid, a Bengali student she meets at university. However, she has never stopped loving Tanvir, as becomes heartbreakingly clear to her and Khalid at the end.
A moving portrayal of a sheltered young woman’s life, The Crooked Neem Tree also provides a vivid account of the political and social undercurrents and the growing unrest of the early sixties.
Niaz Zaman is professor of English at the University of Dhaka. Apart from writing articles on literature and women’s folk art, she also writes poetry and fiction in English. Her story, "The Dance," won an Asiaweek short story award and was later anthologized in The Dance and Other Stories. Her other publications include History of the Family and Didima’s Necklace and Other Stories. She has also edited numerous anthologies, including Under the Krishnachura, From the Delta, and, most recently, New Age Short Stories. From 1981 to 1983, Dr Zaman was posted to the Bangladesh Embassy in Washington D.C. as Educational Attaché.