Nusrat Mnzoor Khan has been writing for a long time but her last novel Ufaq Kay Uss Paar Ki Chah Mai has made her stand high in literary circle. She had spent more than three decades abroad and observed the different cultures very minutely. During these long years she didn’t let her identity to melt in different cultures rather kept her roots strong in Pakistani culture with which she belongs. She has become a stern believer of in the strength of family as an institution for a purposeful and happy life. Her novel ‘Ufaq Kay Uss Paar Ki Chah Mai” is also an account about the importance of family institution and losses and gains of immigrants. In the novel she has vividly described the clash of cultures and highlighted that Pakistani families living abroad in search of better future continue to be haunted by past memories, attachment to their religion, culture and fail to integrate in local culture. She has eloquently portrayed the issues of our everyday lives. The canvas of this novel is broad and diversified. It depicts a beautiful comparison between the eastern and western cultures. The novel is about a young couple, who travel abroad in search of greener pastures, as they raise their children in different cultures. In an exclusive interview with Sunday Plus she talks about her novel. Following are excerpts of the interview:

Q: How did the idea of writing a novel come to your mind?

A writer is always looking forward to write, he writes whenever a plot of his interest comes up in his mind or he notices something in the surroundings that persuade him to write, then it’s up to him how to make a meaningful story out of it and then apply his writing skills to complete the job. Conceptualizing and making the full description from a tiny theme into a well- knit story that should look real and elaborating/orating it with carefully selected words, phrases, and poetry to fully engage the readers, that’s what my way of writing, is.

Q: Is the story of Ufaq key us Paar Ki Chah Mai reality based or it is a complete fiction?

The theme of the story is bit real as some foreigners do engage in such extra matrimonial activities but putting the bit and pieces together in a fiction is all real. If at all it gives the impression of a real then you may give credit to my writing style.

Q: The novel touches two farthest ends of life – extreme happiness and extreme dismay. What made you touch the extreme and abandon the moderation?

Actually the story is a complete picture of this saying “life is not a bed of roses. With fragrance of flowers we get the thorn pricks as well. Ups and downs are part of life and sorrows accompany the happiness, some time less and some time more. This story needed farthest ends to make it more appealing and effective. I think that was the only way which could deliver clear message, great lesson and true picture of the situation and characters.

Q: Do you really believe that the Eastern woman is that loyal and man that disloyal as reflects in the novel?

I think most of the time women are more loyal as compare to the men regardless of their nationality. Since God has rewarded them with soft, forgiving nature and tender heart. By chance in this novel the man proved to be quite disloyal otherwise it can be vice versa.

Q: With regard to the role of grandparents in upbringing the grandchildren as shown in the novel, particularly, where grandmother shows resentment on the decision of taking Zoni to the Philippines. Do you think this role of enormous love and affection somehow becomes a hurdle for the children in finding their own way in life? Being a grandparent yourself - do you discourage or encourage this role?

Until 3 decades ago it was common to leave the kids with grandparents for whatever reasons. That happened because of close family ties and concern. People used to be very thoughtful and caring. In this story I had shown the power of grandparent’s love that’s why Zoni never felt lonely, unhappy or cut off from her own family but missing them was natural. Even though grandmother’s love became little selfish at times but under the circumstances such situation never existed where Zoni felt deprived of anything or thought that their love is hurdle for her or she was losing decision making power for her future or life. She was raised with golden values and loved her grandparents deeply.

It also depend on an individual, she was content, loving and caring like her mom and also in those days children welcomed the decisions of their elders being not so exposed as children of now-a-days. In those days values of relationship, concern and sacrifice was very much in practise which is diminishing from our society.

There are no hard and fast rules, if there are joint family systems and the grandparents are capable to take care of the grandchildren with their understanding then even now it can be possible. But in my opinion because of global changes and a lot of exposure it is better that children should be raised by their own parents.

Q: The part of the novel where Aliza confronts drug dealers is very filmy. Did you feel constrained of original ideas at some point of the novel?

Actually the whole novel is so dramatic but well researched and that suits the plot/situation. I tried to show her faith in God after passing through a lot of difficulties/mishaps in life and to make her realize that in her situation leaving her husband and house was not a right idea, their family issues could be resolved being together also. At the same time I also wanted to teach the lesson to that drug dealer through her faith and destiny who himself was victim of parents barbarism. Because of their bitter past, both of them chose wrong paths in life. Parent’s problems leave untreatable wounds on children’s hearts and minds.

Since the story flows so smoothly and all the good or bad incidents happened in a sequence so I did not feel that it constrained the original idea at any point.

Q: Novel contains number of romantic scenes, which naturally give birth to the romantic and also wild fantasies in the reader’s mind. Who do you think are going to be inspired more of this romantic aspect of the novel – men or women?

I had to show the contrast of life there for what Kashan abandoned his dearest wife and the children. But honestly when I was writing about this so called wild fantasy I was having nausea because at that point of Aqsa’s life readers find themselves drowning in occasion of her tears, sorrows and misery more than focusing on that dirty fantasy.

It seems to me men may inspired more of this romantic aspect than women. By any chance this fantasy is not new for Pakistani people anymore.

Q: Don’t you think it is a bit exaggeration that a woman like Aqsa who unlike a typical Eastern woman is a social lady, mixing up with the Filipino people, campaigning for Kashan in his elections, and also performing her role in the ladies club can stay oblivion of her husband’s deeds?

Her socializing with ladies is not a sin, she came from an educated family and now she was part of that society. That ladies club was more an educational one and while socializing, they all were working for poor people. (Those details I had given in my novel)

Aqsa always tried to stay within means of Islam. If in Ghazwa-E-Badar or Uhad ladies could work with men why Aqsa could not help campaigning for her husband while residing in that enlightened society?

It was not because of the club that she stayed oblivion of her husband’s deeds. Club meetings used to be once a week from 9AM to 12Noon on week days and all the ladies used to return home before their husbands would come home for lunch. Also Aqsa was not going to the club regularly she always gave preference to her house and family.

Q: What is your message in the novel to the Eastern woman? Is it to trust less on their husbands, when they are prone to western culture or accept it as a reality and live with it?

My massage to Eastern women is not to have blind faith on their husbands. They must keep track of their routine and work schedule secretly. And if need arise they must raise voice for their rights. Aqsa’s blind faith destroyed her and the whole family. As in Quran forgiving is a great deal so wives and husbands must give at least one chance to each other for the sake of the family. Life is a compromise, and at times anyone can make mistake so they should learn to forgive if they do realize about their mistake for the sake of family. Here I would like to repeat the poetic verse which is printed at the back page of my novel.

“Kabhi na tootney wala hisaar ban janun, Wo mairy zaat mein rehnay ka faisela to kare”

Q: A writer is a like god of its story, who can mould it to any side. At the end of the novel Kashan is left at the mercy of God with no punishment awarded by society or any justice system (poetic justice). Is this best what you suggest for a betrayer like Kashan?

I think he got a great deal of punishment. His own children looked down upon him, he lost his job and faced a big disgrace in the whole institute, and he lost his wife and remained alone to see miseries of his children and to live with the deep feelings of guilt all his life.

Q: Don’t you think the novel is inspired by some prejudice against men?

Sorry to say that but most of the time men start such mess thinking that they can get away with this. Their pride is too high and also they abuse Islamic law of four marriages and right of divorce. But I must say exceptions are always there.

Q: Every writer is a critic. What do you say about your novel as a critic?

I must say that every writer thinks I could still write better than this if I try more. But my readers gave me this confidence to say that I succeeded in conveying my message.

  1. Why should people read Ufaq kay us Paar ki Chah Mai?

I think it’s a beautiful story with a great lesson and my writing style is different so my readers enjoy it. It’s not only a novel, it’s a travelogue as well and everybody must read it to learn more about, family as a sacred institution and share my sweet and bitter experience while travelling around the world.

Q: Tell us something about you writing rituals.

I usually write at night or when I am alone so nobody can interrupt me. For me total concentration is very important. When I am writing my devotion is as great as at praying time.

Q: Who are your favourite novelists/ writers?

Qurrat-Ul-Ain Haider, Nasim Hijazi, Krishan Chandar, Qaisy Rampuri, Qudrat-Ullah Shahab, Bano Qudsia, Ashfaq Ahmad, Allama Iqbal, Razia Butt, Khalil Jibran, Daniel Steel, Katheleen Woodwiss and Brontay sisters.

Q: What are you reading these days?

“A royal Duty.” I like to read something at night before bed- times; it should be a good book or a Magazine.

Q: What is the one book/author you feel everyone must read?

Allama Iqbal and Khalil Jibran.

Q: Which books are on your bedside table?

Beside Qur’an & Hadith books some social novels.

Q: Which titles are on your bucket list of books?

The shadow of the wind, Admission, Amarbail, Zavia, Hawwa ke naam and Peer e Kamal.

Q: What are you planning to reread?

Ufaq kay uss paar ki chah maen.

Q: What is your next novel is all about and when it is expected to be in market for your fans?

I have selected the following 2 topics: 1: How the children treat their parents now a day? 2: How a working woman is treated by her husband at home.

Inshallah #1 will come first, may be within 2 years. My frequent travelling in and out from Pakistan keep visiting my children is a big hurdle in my writings.