THIS first book by the author, who writes columns for Muslim News besides regularly contributing to the Guardian in London, is a light-hearted fiction with a hilarious twist giving an insight into what it means to be a young British Muslim woman. The likelihood of a Muslim talking about love in public is small, but the author shows through her novel that beneath the translucent veils of Muslim women lie beating hearts, imagination replete with fairy tales and princes-princesses living happily ever after.
A prospective suitor creates a hustle and bustle in Shelina’s parental home but she turns down the proposal as she “didn’t feel the ‘click’.” This leads to an open search for a match for her since it had so far been done surreptitiously.
Meanwhile the story moves backward to Shelina’s childhood, her schooling in a madrasa where she is the star pupil. Here the author points out that it is a universally acknowledged truth that all Asian parents want their children to get married and settle down. It is their final duty and an Islamic responsibility to help the child find a suitable spouse. Only when the offsprings are paired off can the mother and father sigh with relief.
The Imam of the local mosque exhorts all his listeners, “Love comes after marriage” and asks “What is this ‘click’ that people are looking for?”
Another proposal comes for Shelina from Samir who, on seeing her books lining her shelf, says, “I hate books. I hate all books. I never ever read and I don’t like people who like books.”
On her return from Egypt and Jordan, Shelina meets Mohamed Habib, an accountant, at a family friend’s daughter’s birthday. Mohamed tells her about his nearly marrying the right girl but who, at the last moment, turns him down. Shelina goes out to meet him another day and tells him, “I like you.” She also adds, “And I was wondering…”, waiting for his reply. After a long wait, he tells her, “Shelina, I am a scientist. I have just discovered that Einstein’s theory of relativity might not be true. This has turned my world upside down and I can think of nothing else at all.”
One day at a Muslim charity conference, Shelina meets Abdullah who is intelligent and his warm look mesmerizes her and ultimately she finds her Mr Right in him. On her journey in search for the One, she also discovers herself and her faith. -MG
(Amaryllis, Manjul Publishing House Pvt Ltd, 10, Nishat Colony, Bhopal – 462 003; www.amaryllis.co.in)