As a teen, many a summer holidays were spent staying awake till 1am engrossed in a book. Occasionally I’d venture downstairs for buttered toast and a cup of hot chocolate, or milk and cookies. My mum would nag me to leave the house, sit in the garden, go to the local shop – anything.
‘Just get out of the house!’ She’d say. ‘I don’t know what I’m going to do about this girl with her head buried in books. Khuda da vastaa ee at least put the lights on, you’re going to go blind!’
Over the years I’ve read books for pleasure, pretended to read books for assignments, taught books I loved, and been forced to teach books I didn’t love. I went through a horrible phase where I couldn’t get past the first few pages of a book because my mind wouldn’t land on the words in front of me.
For some reason the magic was fading.
After decades of being caught up in the frenzy that is education, work, life, responsibilities… This month, as I curled up with a book, with all the time in the world, with my buttered toast and cup of tea, and the Doha sun shining outside, I was 15 again… transported back to the world of my childhood.
And this wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for the current global climate. Small silver linings, alhamdulillah.
I finished reading Khalida Brohi’s ‘I Should Have Honor’ which I picked up at Islamabad airport last April.
The previous memoir I read was Lauren Graham’s and I remember saying I need to read more from this genre, and more poetry, to give myself a break from fiction. Because maybe I was stuck in a rut.
I’m the kind of reader who, if I like an author, I will consume interviews and journals and TED talks by said author because I feel connected on another level. So I follow Brohi on Instagram and Podcasts; I really admire what she has achieved and the work she continues to do.
But as much as I wanted to love this book, and as much as the opening was beautifully crafted, about half way through I lost the will to finish it. It’s not a badly written book – the reviews on Goodreads are positive. And anyway, how do you critique someone’s memoir? It’s their life experience! I just found the second half wasn’t descriptive, it simply listed lots of events – what kids do when they tell stories (I call it the ‘and then’ syndrome).
I think my gradual decline in interest has less to do with Brohi, and more to do with the fact that this genre is just not my cup of tea. What I did love though is how Brohi overturned the concept of honor – this is probably why her memoir is a bit cryptic in places. She writes about a taboo subject and about family members so understandably she’d want to keep personal and private facts hidden.
I mean, God knows, if I were to write a memoir I’d certainly gloss over some life events to protect people – which is what I felt Brohi did. It left me unsatisfied. Note to self: never write a memoir.
Anyhow. What the book did do is propel me back into the magic of fiction. And that too, the world of my favourite writer: Shafak.
I’m half way through The Gaze. I had literal goosebumps reading this page… almost as if I was destined to read this book at this particular stage of life. So much for escaping into a fictional world, eh?