Written by Nagwa Malik
“But she couldn’t stop. The smell of her burning house still filled her nostrils even as the chilly breeze swept by her enticingly.
The screams that rang out were deafening; flames shot up everywhere. The screams were prolonged and were she, a little child of ten, not so scared, they would have been very irritating for they were constant; they were horror filled, they spelt death and terror.”
This is the story about a 45 year old woman: single, a successful journalist and photo journalist, who embarks upon the next chapter of her life as she looks back on her life from her childhood in the war torn Indian Occupied Kashmir, to her escape to Azad Kashmir, Pakistan, the loss of her loved ones, the support of loved ones there to help her move on in life, and her experiences as a woman, as an Asian woman, as a single woman as she claims her stake in the world, travels around due to her job, faces discrimination in Europe, her thoughts based on her experiences and her outlook on life, history, current affairs and the various social issues. When she decides to take a leave from her current life in the form of a Sabbatical, she hopes that it would help her decide if she needed to revamp her life or if her past decisions that led her to this point were indeed right. And she finds her challenge very shortly after she begins her sabbatical in France: a challenge in the form of a British-Pakistani agent who gives her an offer to join him in his latest job. Would she take this offer? And if she did, would she live to regret it?
Touching all these topics and issues that we face today, and yet not letting the book be about them, but all about her and her adventures, the smooth way in which everything is said and yet unsaid, that is the delight of this story.
This book was written in 1999, and yet the topics, the themes and the subjects discussed are very apt today.
Why I wrote this book and why publish it now:
Written in 1999, this was one of my last works of fiction for years, until I once again started writing in 2013. When I wrote this novel, I was just about to begin a new chapter in my life: I was to complete my Masters and was making plans for my future. As one who is used to thinking long term and weighing all the options and variants, I put a bit of that “what-if” in this book: the plan of going to Europe, of pursuing one’s career, of the expectations I had from life. I did go to France later, I did go back to the UK as well, this time as an adult, and I did live to pursue my studies and even to pursue my career. And then now, as I suffered from depression and writer’s block, I decided the best way was to start digitizing my old works, and this seemed the best and most apt one to do. As I started digitizing it, I realized how so much of what I had written about was now me… I have touched forty, and I am at a point in my life where I need to make major decisions…I was her. I realized this book needed to get out now: so many women were struggling, like me, struggling to make decisions, struggling with depression, especially with COVID, life has become really disoriented, and this book reflected it all and also encouraged taking decisions, looking for unconventional solutions…that it was never too late to restart one’s life, to change. And so, as a New Year gift, I released this novel exactly on New year, this year Jan 2021.
Author of The Terrific Three and The Mist series, Nagwa Malik has had national success for her writing abilities. Nagwa has an MA in Scriptwriting from City University, London, and has been an academic for the greater part of her life. She taught Languages and Scriptwriting in reputed colleges and universities in Lahore like Choueifat and BNU. She resides in Lahore, Pakistan where she works independently as a Language Trainer and is now a full time writer. She loves nature, animals, her solitude and watching K and J Dramas. She is introspective, and it fuels her work.
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