The Pakistani Bride by Bapsi Sidwa

The Pakistani Bride by Bapsi Sidwa Book Review

This is one perfect example of multidimensional analysis of Pakistani life. The journey of a tribal man of Kohistan, the violence of partition experienced in the train to Lahore, life in the mountains versus life in plains, offer much reflections and different perspectives of a Pakistani or trbal society. Cultural, social , geographical variations and emotions are so vividly portrayed as in a film. If you pass over this this book because of a deceptively simple and somewhat flimsy title you would miss the treasures embedded in it. I came close to missing it.

I picked it up a paper back pirated version from an outdoor book fair outside the CSD store for Rs. 200. I had never read Bapsi Sidwa yet, although I had been seeing her books everywhere. I bought the book because of its price and attentive photo of a bride. But I didn’t yet feel like reading it. I stored it in my bookshelf for later reading when I am in the mood for a soap opera of daily life events. It stayed there for 2 years until I accidentally noticed it during dusting and reorganizing of the shelves. I kept it in my travel bag for light reading in an upcoming long flight. Little did I know how wrong I was. it is definitely not a soap opera. It is by no means light.

Within a single novel of merely 200 pages, the author skillfully stitches multiple stories of numerous characters whose lives become interconnected by random chance events. The characterization and personification of city of Lahore, graphic description of scenes from the red light district, the drama of intercultural marriages, the fury of tribals, the plight of victims of oppression and the opportunistic trait of the state system, the army, the politicians and society keep the reader engrossed and fascinated. The description of life in the treacherous mountains and of tribal society is simply the reader. Whereas the account of travelling through the various landscapes simulates the adventure experienced in a tour of those regions.

The lives and experiences of various characters from different segments reveal the strikingly common wounds of oppression and the plight of women in a patriarchal society. Whether tribals, or elite from the plains, women in general are subjected to similar pattern of abuse by male family members, even if they happen to be of a different origin altogether, as an American women in the story. In the book the two brides subjected to similar nature of violence liberated themselves with remarkable degree of courage.

The book is a must read for all Pakistani men and women. It is more like a crash course on patriarchal dynamics across the plains and mountains. The mind blowing psychoanalysis digging deep into the soul of Pakistani society offer a unique insight of elements of human behaviour we often fail to take note of and other elements we take for granted. Ever since I read it the book has been passed through many friends and received good feedback. The book enticed me to search for more of her books. It made me an addict to Bapsi Sidwa that I bought all of her books and loved each one of them. Some of them are made into films as well. The script of The Pakistani Bride would make a great film or television drama. 

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