On the inside cover for this intriguing book, translator Shafiqur Rahman describes the task of translating Ahmed’s words from Bengali to English as “agonising,” to use the British spelling. In some places I would agree that some of the sentences do not make grammatical sense, but I, an English student studying the Arabic language, can not even begin to imagine how difficult it is to translate these wildly dissimilar languages.
The story deals with an alternate reality in which our Earth is on the brink of being destroyed—or so it seems. They, the people of Earth, receive communications with a planet, Tyfa, that seems to have appeared in the cosmos out of nothing. Though the transmission was not threatening, very soon “the newspapers began filling up with scare-mongering news articles. Some of them said The aliens of Tyfa are going to destroy Earth” (p. 12). As it turns out the planet is merely going to be transformed into a four-dimensional planet. I was a bit lost at times at the science behind it all, which probably has more to do with my lack of understanding than the clarity of the book.
The book is riddled with wonderful exclamations that keep the pages turning: “From time to time there are defining moments in history—very special moments, when great scientists are born who change the theories and beliefs of the age. These geniuses do not just upgrade knowledge, in the usual way, step by step, but take it onto an impossibly higher plain” (p. 10-11). When I read this I thought about not only great men in science, but our planet’s great philosophers, artists, writers, and poets. This quote goes so well with another: “It has been shown several times that today’s mystery becomes (a) commonplace tomorrow. What is unfathomable now, can turn out to be self-evident in the future” (p. 30). So very true Ahmed, so very true.