A beautiful novel, weaved around one incident, involving two rather three women and one man, on a moon lit night. The story is located in Chiragpur village in Pakistan. It is about simple people, leading an ordinary life in a nondescript village. And yet, what rich human emotions unfold in the narration.
Gulshan is married to Haroon and has a four year old boy, living happily. Her mother lives with her. One night she wakes up from sleep to find her husband going out of the house and follows him and sees him in the arms of another woman, a visitor to the village, who had been there only two days. She has hair floating down to waist, is urbane and does not wear the veil. Her name is Naghmana. Gulshan goes home and cries to her mother. The mother also sees Haroon and Naghmana together and she raises hell. Naghmana, Gulshan and her mother are the three women in the plot. And Haroon the man.
Before Haroon could explain anything, Gulshan’s mother demands a kacheri (a civil court). Naghmana is brought to the court, with villagers spitting and cursing at her and even shoe throwing. In the kacheri, it is revealed by Haroon that Naghmana was his estranged first wife. They had left each other five years ago and it was very much an accident that she met Haroon in Chiragpur. The kacheri orders divorce of the first marriage. A decision resented by Zulaikha, wife of the chief of the village Siraj Din. The relationship between the two turns cold here on because Siraj Din realises that he has lost the respect of his wife, whom he considers in great regard because of the decision he ordered.
Naghmana leaves the village. But the kacheri changes the lives of all the protagonists. It irrevocably changes the lives and relationship between Gulshan and Haroon, Gulshan and her mother, Gulshan and her son, Zulaikha and Siraj and the official gossip group women.
Twenty years later, Siraj Din is in death bed and wishes to seek forgiveness from Naghmana for forcing a divorce on her from her first husband. The story starts at this point and moves backward and then comes back to present.
Woven into this plot is the story of a beautiful young widow, who is pursued ardently by a rich gentleman. She is unable to accept him or return his love because of her past, a secret she has kept within her and burned daily. She had been raped when she was a teenager. When she married, she told her husband this after the nuptials and the husband ceased all relations with her though living with her. She bore a son from her husband’s one encounter. She feels guilty, unfit for love and therefore hates men.
The intense emotional trauma of each of the character in the novel has been brought out very well in the narration. What happens when Naghmana returns and who forgives who and who reconciles with who are suspense well kept till end. Gulshan is the obvious sufferer, having lost all her youthful years with a husband who does not go beyond ‘what is for dinner’ or ‘where is the bill.’ Their son, brought up under such atmosphere escapes to the university and job at the first given opportunity.
A refreshingly good read. The author Qaisra Shahraz is an award winning novelist and script writer. Love’s Fury is her second novel, a sequel to Fated to Love.
(Penguin Books India Pvt Ltd, 11, Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi-110 017)