“Colonialism” colonized country involves various difficult and“Colonialism” colonized country involves various difficult and

              “Colonialism” is a complex term to be
viewed from several dimensions. It is basically one country’s (especially
economically and politically powerful) domination (e.g. cultural, economic,
religious) over another country. Colonized people find themselves in alienating
atmosphere in the new world. The subsequent confrontation and clashes between
the colonizer and the colonized have damaging effects. The natives, however,
start looking back to their own cultural heritage besides other things that
make them what they are. The process of decolonizing the colonized country
involves various difficult and critical steps because once the things fall
apart, the conflicts remain as continuous process of frustrations.

       The freedom fighters-colonized and oppressed natives- (the growing child
in case of the psychoanalytic theory) strive to get back freedom from the
Freudian father (the colonizer). Chaka
explores the utopian dream of a country to become decolonized (one’s effort to
go back to his/her mother).      

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         To understand the
process of psychoanalytic
interpretation of the post-colonial struggle of the individuals to return to
the imaginary homeland (mother figure), some crucial concepts— Lacanian mirror
stage, Oedipus complex, decolonization, nationalism and existentialism-need to
be explored.

           In Critical theory today, Lois Tyson
concentrates on Freudian psychoanalysis which argues that unconscious is the
storehouse of agonizing experiences including wounds, fears, guilty desires,
and unresolved conflicts which are difficult to explain and therefore, we feel
reluctant to expose. Freudian father figure symbolizes the colonizers with whom
the colonized people compete to win the motherland(the mother).

         “Perhaps the most influential development of
Freud’s theories of the unconscious was made by Jacques Lacan’s combination of psychoanalysis
and structural analysis of language.”(Ashcroft, Griffiths, and Tiffin 222)
Talking about Lacanian psychoanalysis, Lois Tyson in Critical theory today, writes that the Mirror Stage occurs at some
point between six and eight months .  The
child develops a sense of itself as a whole rather than a formless and
fragmented mass. The Mirror Stage starts what Lacan says the Imaginary Order.  It is a
world of completeness and delight: my mother is all I need and I am all my
mother needs.

Lacan speaks about the Symbolic Order where the child learns language.
This stage creates a frustration inside the child because in this period it
experiences a separation from its mother in a world where it must follow what
others want it to follow. One of the most deeply felt disappointment of the
child is that it observes its father dominating over its mother. Our desires
become the desires of the “Other.”

        In Key concepts
in Post-Colonial Studies, Bill Ashcroft, Gareth Griffiths and Helen
Tiffin, connote Lacan’s idea of the subjects being produced and subjected in
language and in the symbolic stage. To make the argument more specific, the
colonized people are imagined to be in the imaginary stage before being
colonized. As the colonization begins, the natives-the colonized people start
being subjugated to the colonizers’ ideologies. 

       The idea of a nation is linked with “imagined
communities” as Benedict Anderson puts it. The word “Nation” produces a sense
of belongingness to a certain specified area with the celebration of a unique

  Discussing decolonization, Bill Ashcroft, Gareth
Griffiths and Helen Tiffin, in Key
Concepts in Post-Colonial Studies, point out that it is a process of
dismantling colonialist ideologies and power. Reviving one’s native culture
through several gradual but constructive forms is the standpoint the colonized
nations focus on while decolonizing their countries in every possible way.    

     In  T.Z.
Lavine’s   From Socrates to Sartre: the Philosophic Quest  ‘Existentialism’ is seen as something which
gives priority to existence. It
emphasizes one’s own subjectivity ( existence as conscious subject) while
making any other consideration ( scientific, philosophical or religious)
secondary. Existentialism deals with absurdity, death and alienation. For
Jean-Paul Sartre, “conscious being has freedom from the casually determined
world. It has power of negation. It has total freedom in its own existence and
total responsibility for own world.”


 Clashes involved in the “Symbolic” stage
(post-colonial state)

       This manuscript finds out crucial
postcolonial elements from Selim Al Deen’s Chaka
( The Wheel) to show how the colonization and its legacy with discourses
and oppression, break down the mental stability of the native individuals and
make them feel inferior and force them to undergo existentialist crisis. Colonialism
and its aftermaths are related to the Lacanian symbolic order and Freudian father


        In Chaka, most of the actions
happen centering on the dead body which symbolizes alienation and nothingness
in a world dominated by the ruthless people of Nobinpur and Noyanpur who refuse
to accept the dead body. Like the child who has just entered into the “symbolic
order” facing the culture, discourse, system etc which create his/her
predetermined acts and where the child finds himself/herself conflicted with
the ideologies, Baher, Shukurchan, the dead body and all including the old lady
waiting for Shonafor are thrown into a post-colonial world where capitalism is
shining with neo-colonialism. The collective actions ultimately turn towards
the individual that is the dead body with whom the existential philosophy would
mostly deal with.

Dear listener, I feel pity for those who
killed him and scattered his destiny by wrong address. I feel pity for those
who disfigured his belly, hide the reason for killing and mercilessly hit the
bull who has been the companion of human beings’ sufferings for more than
thousand years while winning battles. May the ears and eyes of the people of
Noyanpur and Nobinpur be covered with muds and coughs, except that old woman
who, until this evening, thinks that this is (dead body) her Shonafor. (Selim
40; 3. 2)

The sudden change of the color and figure of the dead body turning into
a superhuman signifies the potential revenge of the individuals. Selim al Deen
describes “had there been any expression of hatred and angriness in any
lifeless body for the merciless deaths in the world, the figure of the dead
body would have been like this” (40; 3. 2). The blood-sheds of Karbala ( the
Islamic history of the Muharram related to Hassan and Hossain) appear into the
narrative which re-ignites the history of the revolution during 1986-87 in

The dead body’s search for a little portion of the earth and the
subsequent failure to get a place indicates the obliviousness of the people and
government towards the psychological trauma of the individual. The constant
presence of the wheel makes us remember Ngugi’s Petals of blood where we find the words “La Luta Continua” as the
title of part four which means “the struggle continues.”  The driver of the wheel loudly says “O god! We
have no freedom!” ( Selim 32;2. 3)

In the first torongo of the
first lombok , Selim al Deen states
that the wheel pierces the sleep of the people which indicates the horrible and
worth notifying life of the subaltern. “The grave” in the second scene refers
to the impending tragedy.  The “red flag”
symbolizes blood. The description of the wheel which is like “flower of wood”
signifies the colorless and uninteresting life of the peasants. The wheel’s
being eaten by weevil signifies oppression.

The myth created around the departed body refers to Orientalism where
the east is presented as repulsive, mysterious and dangerous by the western
ideologies. The true picture is lost because the real hero’s dead body finds no
place on earth after it becomes useless and his history of heroism has no
recognition too.

The reference of Hazrat Ali and Islamic grandeur symbolize the protest
and strength of  the subaltern. The
second lombok starts with this line
“after this, hey scene and description loving audience” (Selim 16. 2.1)  which may refer to the writer’s frustration
and who, therefore, urges the audience to think over the issue to a great

The peasants are captured in chains and traps. The reference of the
historical Ezid indicates the betrayal of the ruling class.”Chondrabora snake”
symbolizes the trap created by of the upper class. The story of the snake and
its gradual attack symbolizes the colonization process. Colonization, like the
snake, kills the victim at the end after controlling its move by ideologies.

       The total journey refers to the life and
struggle of the subaltern. The dead body suffers from identity crisis. Both in
Noyanpur and Nobinpur, nobody can recognize him. Only Baher and his companions
have desperate feelings for him. After passing so many times with this dead
body, they become his closest friends.

“Human beings cannot recognize other human beings’ bone,” may connote to
the cruelty and obliviousness of the people to the humanitarian crisis. The
outburst of the bulls indicates another protest against the merciless death:
“why are these bulls acting like this in such a bad time?  Is this the revenge against the death of that
innocent hero?”  ( Selim 34.2.3)

In all of these stories, something vital and inevitable is missing.
Allthe characters search for a place which would give them peace and protection.
In one side, we see the dead body and his companions and on the other side, we
see the people of Nobinpur and Noyanpur. Psychoanalytic theory would suggest
that the dead body is uprooted from his mother or may be from The Garden of
Eden and now suffers for the original loss in an unknown and unwelcoming world.


back to the origin

          Relating psychoanalytic theory with post-colonial
experience that has been discussed earlier, this part explores how the death
body in Chaka searches for the mother
figure in different forms but ultimately cannot fulfill its desires. For Lacan,
language constitutes separation and the tough one is the separation with one’s
mother. The manuscript argues that once the defenses are broken as happen in
psychoanalytic world, the colonized individuals suffer anxiety which includes
low self esteem and unstable self. The conflicts never end. It is like Petal of Blood’s “La Luta Continua” that
is ‘struggle continues.’ This situation is connoted in Chaka’s “Chilmari bondor”. It portrays that neo-colonialism and
neo-capitalism are the legacy of colonialism.

       Where does the death body go? Is he the old
lady’s Sonafor? Where is his home? Is it in Nobinpur or in Noyanpur ? It is
possible that the dead son searches for his mother who will give him eternal
peace. Besides, perhaps the dead body symbolizes those who died in the
battlefield for their motherland and now are searching for their freedom in
post-colonial world. Everything is centered on the dead body’s journey to find
a grave of peace. In Chaka, the
collective endeavor is centered on the individual struggle. Women may be seen
as mother figure.

        Deconstructive reading would give
importance to the women crying for Shonafor or the wife in Baher’s story or
Rehena, waiting for Tarif. The men’s lives are centered on women. Women are
life giver. The female dog which accompanies them signifies Kazi Nazrul Islam’s
poem “Nari-Women” where women are portrayed as the companion of men in the
struggles of history.

Celebration of the native land can be included as a part of
decolonization process. There is positive natural description of the villages.
” In the morning of summer (besides the river  Kakeshshori) 
the village Elongzani, which is at the west, shines with
sunlight.”(Selim 7; 1. 2) The images symbolize the liveliness in their

The old man’s story of many deaths refers to the attachment of their
life towards these people and it also signifies the courage and endurance
capacity of these people.  They never
leave their native culture for the newly arising capitalism which is referred
by “Chilmari Bondor.”  The following line
is referred “Even though one may think of a new life, one cannot leave the dead
body and go to the harbor of Chilmari.” ( Selim 18; 2.1) 

Ultimately, though the ants eat the flesh of the lifeless body, the
wheel never becomes irritated in bearing the deceased. The wheel is like god
who endures all oppression and carries crops and dead body together. The wheel
may symbolize the peasants who are the producer of language and carrier of

Selim Al Deen emphasizes the native language’s role in this play to
highlight the idea of the natives’ significant desire to be unified with their
motherland. Selim al Deen takes the basic peasant language. Language carries
culture. People like Baher, Shukurchan are the creator of language. By giving
them voice, Selim al Deen goes back to native culture and celebrates the power
of their everyday conversation.  There is
no maintenance of traditional rules–comma, semicolon etc. —- in this play
and the words themselves carry significant meanings. This play highlights oral
culture.  Shokhurchan sits down and say
“Hey brother, our wheel has got problem/”What happened?”/ Nothing serious, this
part is loosed/O” (Selim 9; 1.2) 

Peasant culture embodies songs, dances, stories and proverbs. These
cultural elements carry many moral tales which are related to the simple
lifestyle of the farmers.  This play is
an oral play. Dhoromraj dances and sings a song of “Doll Dance”: “See! See! my
friends /See with your eyes passionately/ Your Hori is playing after coming
into the river Jomuna /What a picture of moon!/What a sun in the sky!” (Selim
20; 2. 1). These celebrations of native cultural elements underline the
necessity of looking back to the motherland’s inherent power to give utmost
security and fullness among the individuals.


in going back to the origin

The dead body is finally buried outside Nobinpur and Noyanpur which may
connote that the body has failed to join to its mother. The people of Nobinpur
and Noyanpur act as the colonial legacy ( the neo-colonial power) which
ultimately disables the body metaphorically by not allowing it to be buried in
its own homeland. ‘ After the dead body is buried, everyone sits down into the
shadowed shore/ The “garoan” (driver) runs suddenly after observing sothing/ He
kneels down beside the grave/He catches the fresh mud passionately and cries
“aha aha”/Why! He does not know anything./The misbehavior towards this dead
body/ The unknown pathetic grave or his companion of life leaving
forever.'(Selim 41; 3. 2)






           With the lack of solution to the “Oedipus Complex,”
the confusions increase. Besides, when it is no longer possible for the child
to return to the imaginary stage to gain the full control of the environment
and therefore, when it must remain obedient to the Symbolic Order, the critical
crisis never comes to an end. Being unable to return to the motherland after
bloody competitions, the colonized people (the dead body) face unavoidable

to Lacan, identity formation plays big role. In post-colonial world, the
identity of the colonized is seen as normal but actually it is patriarchal and
hybridized (the loss of the real).The colonized nation cannot accept the
colonial imposition or the hegemony as normal and therefore, they try to go
back to their own culture. The results of such return involve chaos.

          The dead body ( Lacanian child) cannot
leave the strong bond that exists between it and its mother. Failure of
fulfilling the satisfaction of that bond produces trauma which causes an
individual to suffer a lot with an effect of alienation. This relationship
symbolically represents the relationship between the imaginary homeland and the
individuals of the colonized nation. The colonization with its strategy and
panopticon gaze, maintained by colonial (western) ideologies, disturbs the
peaceful coexistence between the motherland and the natives but cannot destroy
that bond forever.

Works Cited

Al Deen, Selim. Chaka (The Wheel).85 purana polton line,Dhaka 1000:Gronthik,14
February 1999.

Ashcroft, Bill, Gareth Griffiths, Helen
Tiffin. Key Concepts in Post-Colonial
Studies. London and New York:
Routledge, 2004.

Mcleod, John. Beginning Post- colonialism. Manchester and New York: Manchester
University Press,2007.

Tyson, Lois. Critical theory today. Second edition. New York and London: Routledge, 2008.