As the title suggests, Hasan is the central character of the story, The Serang of Ranaganji, written by Dr A J Cronin.  In appearance he is squat and ugly with short legs and a large disproportionate head.  That is why Jope Smith calls him “an absurdly comic creature.”  He is the quartermaster of the ship who is in charge of the loading and unloading of the baggage.

He is originally from the Panjab.  But he has no place, family or friends on shore as he has spent forty years of his life on different ships.  The past fifteen years he has been working on the Ranaganji.  He is a Muslim by religion.

It is true that hard times reveal your true character.  Appearances can be deceptive.  When smallpox is reported on the crowded ship, it is Hassan who willingly comes forward to assist the author who is also the ship’s doctor.  While assigning him to the doctor, Captain Hamble pays him the biggest compliment by saying that he is the finest man he has. 

Hasan is a man of few words.  He has a silent efficiency and an ability to find solutions to problems quickly.  When they find no space to isolate the patients in the crowded ship, it is he who suggests making a shelter on the afterdeck safely away from the other passengers.

Hasan is very compassionate.  Even though it is not a part of his duty, he volunteers to do the risky job.  When the doctor asks him to be careful, he says. ‘Do not worry, Doctor Sahib.  I am strong.  And it is my work too.’  At Colombo, when he carries a man with running sores with his own hands, the dark cheeks of the serang is wet with tears of compassion.  He is unmistakably sincere.

Even in a situation that can test the strongest nerves, the serang is calm and unperturbed.  The doctor remembers with gratitude the hope, the fresh heart, and the solace he got from the mere presence of Hasan.

Something that sets him apart from the common folk is his attitude towards money.  When the doctor suggests that he deserves extra payment, he says, ‘What use is money, Doctor Sahib, to one who has all he needs?  I am well enough the way I am.’  Money had no interest for him.   He had courage, self-control and faith.

When Jope Smith makes that final remark, it sounds supremely ridiculous to the reader who knows the real story that was taking place behind the scene.  The last line of the story resounds in the mind of the reader giving us a warning, never to be judgemental.  “… Isn’t it queer, Miss Jope Smith, the animals were all outside.’