A Place For Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza

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“There is another way. Come back, and we will make another path.’ And if he says no, and if he says nothing, will you say this: ‘I used the wrong words. I acted the wrong ways. I will wait, until you are ready. I will always wait for you.’”

Hadia has done it. She is marrying the love of her life – despite the fact that she is Shia, and he is Sunni. Despite the fact that arranged marriages are the norm in her family, in her culture. Despite the fact that she is in love with him. Hadia is marrying her best friend. Her only wish is for her brother to be present during the ceremonies.

Amar is coming home. For the first time in 3 tears, to attend his beloved sister’s wedding. Her sister whom he loves so dearly. Who took care of him, protected him, defended him, kept secrets for him. Amar is coming home. Can he call it home? He left 3 years ago and never looked back. Never saw his mother’s smile, or heard the sweetness of his laugh. When he ran three years ago, he ran away from himself. He ran away from being a disappointment, the black sheep in the family. The one who had a different lifestyle, did not believe in the Muslim faith the way his family did. Could not get through the day sober. Could not get through the day without hurting his parents, or seeing the look of hatred in his father’s face. Now he is coming home.

In this beautiful story, the struggles of family are unveiled. All families have their problems, the things they cannot speak to anyone about, sometimes not even each other. This book is a book of hope, faith, love despite it all. It is a book of motherhood, fatherhood, and the imperfections that come with Parenthood. It is a book of feeling misunderstood, angry at the world, and looking for any place to lay your head and call home. It is a book of worry, concern, and hope for someone you dearly love. All of these things are what make up a family, and that is the beauty of it all – at the end of the day, love conquers all.

Coming from a Pakistani Muslim family, this book was really relatable. I think in a community like ours, everyone is pointing fingers to distract others from people seeing the pain on their faces. It is easy to place blame on each other for not being perfect when no one knows all of your secrets and mistakes.

“Be careful who you point your blame at, Layla. And remember that anytime you point your finger to accuse someone, there are three fingers beneath it, curled to point right back at you.”

I have no read a book like this, one that is able to capture the essence of the Pakistani community and the secrets hidden within it – the complete and utter focus on reputation, to the point where a daughter is stopped from marrying someone she loves, because it would be looked upon badly. A place where the son is always glorified, no matter the truth of his reputation, and a daughter is always scolded for having opinions, scolded for not doing enough.

This book was able to address all of those concerns and show the silver lining that many families in this community have to dig really deep to see: that none of that matters, nothing matters more than the health and happiness of everyone in the family.

The rest is just a distraction, and we would be at loss to focus purely on that.

If you are also from this community, you will definitely enjoy this book, and like me, will hold it close to your heart.

 


Thank you Fatima Farheen Mirza, for your bravery, and for recognizing that we all needed your voice to be heard through the chaos.

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