A Saga Going Round in Circles to Land in Dead Ends
Anjana Neira Dev
THE RETURN OF FARAZ ALI by Aamina Ahmad Tranquebar, an imprint of Westland Books, 2023, 371 pp., INR 799
September 2023, volume 47, No 9

‘For the briefest moment he felt himself made visible’.

The year is 1943; the location, a kotha in Shahi Mohalla in Lahore. The scene, a young Kanjar boy jumping from one terrace to the next, fleeing on the urging of his sister Rozina, as his mother Firdous stops the men who have come to take him away. Six months later, he was taken away. For years after this, the children of the Mohalla will play the game of ‘Djinn Baba’ to memorialize this episode and in the game at least, ‘the boy is always saved in the end’. This boy will return only when he is twenty-five, a policeman charged with covering up the death of a young girl Sonia, at the behest of his powerful father Wajid, the Chief Secretary of the province. This young man is Faraz, the eponymous protagonist, whose exile and return to his home and sense of self form the emotional core of this novel.

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