By Salman Sikandar
This novel is a journey from the darkness of hate and despair towards the hope for a better world created out of love.. A journey from “ ‘ I couldn’t find the flowers’ he said.She smiled at last and asked ,’Do you have a gun?’ “ towards “It might be possible, in the face of death, to believe in humanity’s potential to build a better world.” The story based on the lives of a couple that belongs to a war torn city takes the reader into the shoes of those suffering from wars.Mohsin hamid has somehow succeeded in expressing the point of view of migrants on the so called “migrant crisis “
It starts with showing the normalcy of routine in a city that is soon going to be torn apart by the war.Saeed, a young guy working in an advertisement agency while studying falls in love with Nadia with whom he meets in the coffee shop after seeing her in the class.Nadia ,a very independent woman lives alone in a small flat as she abandoned her family awhile ago. They start seeing each other frequently and Saeed starts visiting Nadia at her place. The author beautifully narrates the simultaneity of events, the growing intimacy and growing war. Saeed asks Nadia to move in with him at first she was hesitant but after the death of Saeed’s mother from shooting she decides to move in with Saeed . The city falls in the hands of militants and everyone in the city wants an escape. People start seeing “doors” which could take them to somewhere else. The first part of the book covers arising conflict within a city and also the ongoing war within every single individualthe war of love for the city and survival .Nadia and Saeed choose survival while Saeed’s father prefers to die in his own city.
Mohsin Hamid has incredibly explained the psychological state of people belonging to a war torn country by making them seeing the special doors of escape.It shows how the little hope for a better world resides even in the worst circumstances. Both of them manages to go in a refugee camp in greece where they suffer from scarcity of resources and the hate of nativists. The rupture in the their relationship starts getting wider. They find another “door “ and migrate to London.On that occasion, different nationalities and natives interact with each other and natives try to drive them out but fail.All the hate we see on that point of novel is relatable with the current situation in the world when alt right and white suprematists and anti immigrants and nationalists are on the rise .The failure of British army to drive out immigrants is a hope against hope for all is not lost. At this particular moment the character of Nadia is pretty interesting, the way she interacts with other nationalities , particularly with Nigerians is a symbol for the fact that decent human beings still exist.Mohsin has used some of the striking lines in this novel.When Saeed asks Nadia to move with the people belonging to their community Nadia replies,” what makes them ours” . On
another occasion the striking conversation between the couple “, ‘ Imagine if you lived here and millions of people from all over the world suddenly arrived ‘
‘Millions arrived in our country ‘ Saeed replied ‘when there were wars nearby’
‘ That was different.Our country was poor .We feel we had as much to lose.’ “
The story has a positive ending when in Merin ,people belonging to different nations instead of fighting for supremacy coexist happily and even demand the right to vote. Saeed and Nadia’s interactions with the people belonging to other communities in the end was a ray of hope and trust in the decency of human attitudes.We also see hope when after half a century their birthplace is shown as a peaceful place.
Mohsin used great diction and wrote rhythmic lines ,at some points it seems as if one is reading poetry.He conveys a lot of things through brilliant use of metaphors which are not really difficult to fathom. If you are interested in the contemporary situation of our world,I would very much suggest you to read this book.
Published in Young Nation Magazine on April 21, 2018