Goat Days, written by the Gulf Malayali Benyamin and translated by Joseph Koyillapally, is worth reading and worth remembering as well. Like Yann Martel's Booker-winning Life of Pi, Goat Days captures the ordeals of an innocent man in a hell beyond his imagination.
Najeeb has the typical Malayali dream, of being in the Gulf and sending money home. His desires resemble the luxuries of a Gulf-returned Malayali: “ a gold watch, fridge, TV, car, AC, tape recorder, VCP, a heavy gold chain”. He lands in Riyadh on a visa sent by his friend's brother-in-law but the life that awaits him there does not even resemble his earlier dream.
He finds himself in a masara tending goats, camels and sheep; working day and nighting; feeding them and milking them; in fact, living like one of them. He forgets even the simple pleasures of his former life such as wasing himself or even the right to privacy while defecating. However, he finds the company of the animals more comforting than that of the cruel and inhuman arbab. He longs for his homeland, the bath in the river, the presence of his family and for rain...When Najeeb breaks out of his masara and runs away, it is a huge step towards the unknown. Like Pi, Najeeb thanks God for being with him during his ordeal.
Readable and memorable, Goat Daysrepresents the ordeals of many Indian immigrants across the Gulf countries, the reality of which is glossed over by the glittering opulence of the few lucky ones. It is surely a slice of real life. May be a goat's life.