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The Pakistani Bride

   
 

  is not who you think she is . . .

   

 

  

 

There's no better way to understand the remote tribal areas of Pakistan than to spend an evening with one of the best novels we have read recently - Bapsi Sidhwa's The Pakistani Bride - a dramatic and powerful work by one of Pakistan's finest writers.  The book transcends culture in the way the best stories do - it looks through the lens of a particular place and time into the wild impassable reaches of the human heart.  The Pakistani Bride, recently reissued in the United States,  had a difficult publishing history and is Sidhwa's first novel.         

The first half of the book sets the stage for a spectacular and thrilling second half in the mountainous region of Koshistan.  Qasim, a tribal man, leaves his mountain home after the loss of his family, adopts a baby girl along the way, and ends up in Lahore: "the ancient whore, the handmaiden of dimly remembered Hindu kings, the courtesan of Mughal emperors - bedecked and bejewelled, savaged by marauding hordes - healed by the caressing hands of her British lovers."  His daughter, Zaitoon, raised on stories of the tall handsome men that live a mountain life has romanticized her father's homeland.  Qasim arranges a marriage for her with a Kohistani man she has never met.  He takes her back and leaves her there to make a new home with her husband and his tribe - but the girl, with a mind of her own, is unaccustomed to the harsh life and tribal customs.  She longs to escape… it is the old story - the conflict between tradition and the wild heart, the one that cannot be tamed.  Escape would be unthinkable . . . . 

There is a beautiful fragment from an Urdu poem in the novel; khudi here is the untranslatable 'force within one.'

Heighten your khudi to such majesty 
That before every turn of fate 
God himself asks man-- 
"Tell me, what do you wish?"   

 

Read: The Pakistani Bride, Bapsi Sidhwa

 

Tags:  literature  pakistan  travel    

 

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