“Tree Without Roots” by Syed Waliullah (1922-71) is a novel that embodies the spirit of existentialism, a philosophical movement that emphasizes individual freedom and choice in a seemingly meaningless and absurd world. The novel depicts the human condition and explores various existential themes such as alienation, absurdity, death, and the search for meaning. Throughout the novel, existential crisis of Majeed is exposed. Here are some points of discussion on existentialism in “Tree Without Roots”,
1. Existential crisis in Garo Hill, Madhupur
Majeed is the muezzin of a mosque of Madhupur in Garo Hill. One day he learns about Mahabbatnagar from a government official. Then he feels this place is not sufficient for his existence. So he leaves Garo Hill for his betterment and feels his existential crisis.
More Notes: Tree Without Roots
2. Establishment of a Mazar for a permanent settlement:
Arriving in the Mohabbat Nagar village, Majeed explores an ordinary grave and establishes it as a Mazar. Then he started to fool the illiterate and innocent villagers to maintain his own existence. He tells the villagers showing his hypocritical attitude.
” You are all blind. You are ignorant men, men without understanding. How could you left the Mazar of Saint Shah Sadeque unattended like this”
3. Old man’s free will hinders Majeed’s existence
Once the father of Taher, Kader and Ratan stands against Majeed in ase of his family matter. He tells Majeed that he should not interfere in his family affair. Majeed takes it as a threat to his existentialism. So later on he hurts the old man emotionally and the old man commits suicide by drowning.
4. Appearance of Awalpur pir
Again Majeed fears of his Existential threat for the appearance of Awalpur pir. He feels that his religious business centralizing Mazar may go in vain for the Awalpur pir. So he goes to Awalpur to prove the pir as hypocrites.
5. Khaleque’s attempt to bring holy water
Again Majeed’s close friend Kheleque tries to bring holy water from the Awalpur pir by in brother in law Dhola Mia. Actually, he becomes motivated to bring holy water from Awalpur pir for his loving and childless wife Amena to conceive. This attempt of Kheleque seems as a threat to Majeed for his religious business. So he impresses Khaleque saying that she has coils in her belly.
6. Akkas’s attempt to establish a school
Akkas is the son of Modabber. He is the only educated person in Mahabbatnagar. He tries to establish a school to educate villagers. Here, Majeed feels that if a school is established in this village then everybody will be clear about Majeed’s business. So he protests against the establishment of the school.
7. Protest of Jamila as an existential treat
Jamila is the second wife of Majeed. She is not obedient to her husband like Rahima. The whole village is afraid of Majeed except Jamila. Majeed takes it as a threat to his indomitable existence and uses his physical power to seize her. Then Jamila spits at his face. Being furious at this incident, Majeed takes her to the Mazar and keeps her fastened to a side of the Mazar overnight.
Thus throughout the whole novel, we see the tension of the protagonist to fight for the establishment of his existence. He is a rootless person from the beginning of the novel and remains mentally rootless for the fear of losing his existence.