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  • Writer's pictureSriram R.M

The Goat Life - A Real Nightmare

It is said that a single dream is more powerful than a thousand realities. Living the life that one dreams of is a luxury that few can afford. All of us chase that luxury at some point in our lives. This is one such story of a man who dared to chase his dreams, and contrary to other stories, his chase led him to a living nightmare.

Najeeb Mohammed is a poor man struggling to make ends meet; one who spends his days listening to and witnessing stories of many malayalis like him whose lives were transformed by that place everyone called 'The Gulf'. He is enticed by the AC rooms, the comfortable accommodation, and most importantly, the prospect of sending enough money home for his family to live comfortably. But going there takes a lot of money, money he doesn't have in the first place. What he does have is a house that he uses to get money. Along with a young man in tow, he proceeds to the Gulf, where, not knowing the language, he is inadvertently thrust into slavery herding goats in the middle of the desert. Whether he escapes forms the rest of the story.

I wouldn't go into the rest of the story, for I feel that everyone should have the fortune of reading it for the first time, without the ugly blot that a spoiler is on their minds. I read the book in English, which is a translated version of the original written in Malayalam. I have to say, that very few books have touched my heart like 'Goat Days'. Written in raw, simple English from the POV of Najeeb, it depicts the events that happened to Najeeb (yes, it is based on the real-life story of the real-life Najeeb Mohammad) with a brutality that strikes deep into your heart; which is accentuated further with the heartbreaking innocence of Najeeb, his faith that his Allah will deliver him from this hell, and his relationship with the goats that become his only companions.

The live-action adaptation makes the viewers' hearts throb with emotions; however, it doesn't come close to the tearjerker the book is, for as is the case with every movie, it does not have the luxury of exploring the Najeeb's relationship with the goats. Though Prithviraj does a very good job of portraying Najeeb's innocence, there is only so much you can fit into a runtime of 2h 52m.

Reading the book made me feel sadness, anger, and helplessness as it navigated the dreary life of a goatherd in a desert farm. But most importantly, it made me feel hope in the face of insurmountable odds. It showed me the importance of faith. Najeeb's story is a story of every one of us. Though most of our situations are much, much better than what Najeeb had to endure, each of us are stuck in the goat farm that life is. All that separates us from our dreams and deliverance is but an endless desert. For if a man, whose body has been ravaged by years of exposure the burning sun, and lack of food and water, can look upon the endless desert, and feel hope, happiness, and faith, we can do anything we want in life. We can conquer the world.

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