Haveli by Zeenat Mahal

haveli A coloured post for Zeenat Mahal’s book. The cover is such that I could not stop myself from doing that.

I will put in a few bits from the story but I do not think they could be called spoilers. You can read the review and go back to read a good novella.

Set in Pakistan in the 1970s, Haveli is a story of Chandni and Taimur.

Chandni, or C as she likes to be called, deems herself unlovable as no one has ever made an effort. Her father abandoned her and her mother as soon as her conception came to light. Her mother pined away for a man who betrayed her and went on to the next world leaving a very young C to a grandmother who expects the best of the very best from everyone.

Since a young age C had been taught all that her grandmother has been taught when she was her age. Even after being home schooled all her life, in fear that her father might kidnap her to ransom her back to her grandmother, she has a high level of intellect.

She also has a kind heart which she hides behind her bitter and sarcastic tongue, that is as honed as one could ever be.  Coping with her Daddy Issues she develops a crush on a man a generation older and decides to marry him at all costs. She thinks she is in love with him.

This is where the hero, Taimur, comes in. We never know what he thinks. We only know what he might as the story is just C’s point of view.

Well… Taimur is a man born and brought up in England but now is in Pakistan for good (I think). With his entry, subtle and not so subtle cues by everyone turn up that shout that they want these two to tie the knot. C does not want that and she thinks that Taimur does not want it either. Apparently the man does not even like this pompous brat (as he calls her, even when confessing his love at a later stage).

Taimur introduces her to a world in which she starts having this physical reaction to a man for the first time in her life. She tries bluffing out from many situations but rather her actions point to her naivete and innocence which endears her more to the man she refuses to marry in front of relatives and acquaintances.

The same man that she later on asks to marry her to save her from the man who was supposed to top the list of the people who should have loved her and protected her while asking nothing in return.

This story is of blood not being enough to form relationships. This story is that of innocence and rebellion.

I liked it very much. Zeenat may just as well join ranks of those of my other favourite authors.

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