While I was looking for non-fiction novels about the history of Bangladesh, I came across this. It wasn’t exactly what I was looking for but, nonetheless, I enjoyed it just as much. A Golden Age tells the story of the Haque family’s experiences during the war from the perspective of Rehana. A Golden Age begins with a newly widowed Rehana who had been declared unfit by a judge and has had her children taken away. By the second chapter, 20 or s0 years have passed. It’s now 1971 and her children have returned, but the shame of what she had to do stays with her all these years. The novel follows Rehana’s life during Bangladesh’s war for independence. As her children become politically involved, Rehana finds herself drawn into the war as well. While her children are motivated politically, Rehana’s desire for her children’s safety drives her through the entire novel.
Through A Golden Age, Rehana is more of a witness than an active member, like her children. We never witness the full atrocities that the people suffered but we do encounter the result of them through her eyes as we follow her from her home to refugee camps. And not knowing fully what the Pakistan army was doing, we’re thrown into the same tense situation is Rehana in. We learn the real costs of war through the lives of this semi-real family. (I believe Rehana was based on Anam’s grandmother and her experiences) I loved the way she described Bangladesh, the culture, the food, the landscape. My favourite part was beginning of the novel and how Anam introduced the land and country. It was, at most times, so calming and beautiful before everything goes terribly wrong.
No one should really think of this as an actual account of what happened but an introduction that can incite further research. A Golden Age is more personal and human, and I felt plenty of emotion while reading Rehana’s story. A Golden Age was a good introduction to Bangladesh’s fight for independence, especially for me who grew up knowing barely anything apart from the fact I was born on the same date it started.