Book Review: Lahore a glimmer of light in the darkness

29th Nov 2019
Book Review: Lahore a glimmer of light in the darkness

A Word Thrice Uttered: Stories on Life’s Realities. By Parveen Talha.
Olive Turtle (Imprint of Niyogi Books). Paperback. 192Pp. 2017. Rupees 350.

A Word Thrice Uttered is a collection of short nostalgic love stories. It is not the type of love that has you singing at the rainbows, but the gut-wrenching sort that makes you cry and marvel at the light in the darkest corners of human existence. The stories emotional impact is a testament to Talha’s ability to write well

Talha doesn’t take time to paint the scene, there are no starters or contexts offered in the story and you get right into it. They are all set in the vicinity of Lahore around the time of independence, and you get the sense that she is writing for an audience that is familiar to that setting, as she assumes you know them. Talha does, however, take time to explore the characters and how they feel. She uses the stories to touch – not delve – into the injustices that we find in our communities.

In the story A Word Thrice Uttered, Talha talks about the unexpected strengths of a woman plagued with bad luck, who leaves her husband after being divorced and finds a job straight away in an orphanage that her disabled child was to. This tale touches upon the stigma of divorce and disability in our societies.

In a String of Bela Flowers, it talks about the lure of the West that compels racism between our own and the stigma of having loved a woman with darker skin. It is a tale of ghosts who haunt their loved ones and how that hurt and love never disappears.

Unusually there are also love stories of families and their animals. The story of Rustam the horse, who was separated from the family that owned him and he died when his mother died hundreds of miles away. There is the story of Sona and Tiger, a cow and a dog who couldn’t live without each other. These are stories of a love that transcends boundaries.

This book was written for a specific Lahori audience, and the underlying theme of love in unexpected places is one that resonates with many, however, her lack of physical description or relevant images explaining the setting of the story would have made this book accessible to many more.

This book — although a work of fiction — is an amalgamation of many stories. The harsh realities that some of these tales are referring to bring a lump into my throat.
Read the book if you are looking for a glimmer of light in the darkness.

Asiya I Versi

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