Millions visit Yosemite, Sierra Mountains, New Mexico and other landmarks made famous by Ansel Adams. The aperture on Adams camera captured these beautiful stills with 60 thousand shades of grey carefully placed between the darkest blacks and the most brilliant whites.  He used light like brush strokes on canvas. These landmarks and monuments have been photographed by many.  But it was his creative eye, his brilliance of conveying their beauty in a different realm that made landmarks like “Face of Half Dome” forever linked with Adams. His unique perspective is reflection of how he viewed nature differently than most of us and this instinct made his imitable association with the subjects he photographed unequaled.

Maheen Usmani reflects the same creative instinct as Ansel Adams. She does not use the camera lens but instead uses her pen to project the issues we all experience in unique and interesting scopes. Maheen gives ordinary happenings new perspectives and new meanings. She has the uncanny ability to make the mundane transcend into something memorable and meaningful. Like Adams she can find the right emotion to convey and her unique simplistic style sears that experience in the readers’ memory as uniquely Maheen’s.

Maheen’s first book, ‘Mercurial Mr Bhutto and Other Stories’ is a collection of short stories covering various subjects. She projects Bhutto and the polarized environment of this tumultuous assent to power through the eyes of a child. The first essay will have the reader hooked as it is not the usual depiction in binary black and white but instead, like Adams, in shades of grey. The story 15 Minutes of Fame is an emotionally searing composition just like Adams unforgettable Grass and Burnt Stump in monotone greys. Both surrealistic and unforgettable. Home Sweet Home, Small Change, Maestro and Fifty Shades of Grief are stories that tug at reader emotionally. Each written with the brilliance that is hallmark of Maheen’s ability to string words in profound stories. Adam would sit at a spot with his head inside the lens hood and wait for hours for the prefect light to capture his iconic images. Maheen, like Adams, finds the perfect cadence in her stories that make ordinary experiences into distinctive temperate emotions that have become hallmark of her style.

I have a slot saved for Maheen’s next book on my shelf. Maheen writings are a gift. Mercurial Mr Bhutto belongs on the shelf of every fervent reader who appreciates the brilliance of a creative thought weaved masterfully in reflective stories. I gave her book to my daughter, an avid reader, who found her stories riveting. She asked me a million questions particularly about Bhutto and Karachi. Maheen’s stories sparked the imagination and curiosity of a child. Can there be a better validation of her brilliance?