The story revolves around a best-selling
writer, Stephen, who works as a journalist for a magazine in New Delhi and informs
his publisher of his desire to write another book. The story begins as Stephen
finds his way to a small village in North Kashmir to be amongst the heart of
nature to overcome his writer’s block and seek inspiration for his latest book.
Upon arriving in this small village, Stephen
finds the quaint village simple and peaceful, filled with its natural beauty
that captivated his attention. He was acquainted with his guide, Ahmad and his
maid servant, Afrooz during his stay in the village. The story slowly unfolds
as Stephen gets curious with a large white house situated in the midst of the
village. Afrooz hesitantly tells the dark tales that lay behind the house which
was once thriving with happiness, and is now overshadowed with its sorrow.
The story revolves around three women –
Afrooz, Afshaan and Lily; and how they tell the stories of the village as they
were growing up. The writer, Stephen, used to know Lily from his school days,
thus sparking his curiosity to learn the tales of the village. Mr Assad, the
owner of the large house had once lived with his wife without children. As her
health deteriorated, they adopted a son, Hamdani. Hamdani spent most of his
time away from the village as he furthered his study in the city. As such,
Hamdani grew up ignorant of his village’s culture and practices.
Abdul, a close friend and assistant for Mr
Assad had two children, Maria and Baderullah, who get acquainted with Hamdani.
A close and intimate friendship develops between Maria and Hamdani. During this
time, Baderullah and his friend, Fakir, only had evil intentions in their
minds. Unknown to Maria and Hamdani, their fathers agreed to join families once
they reached a certain age.
Maria, despite being self-taught, was highly
intellectual in her knowledge of the world and this helped to bridge the
friendship between her and Hamdani. With her influence, Hamdani slowly grew to
appreciate the villagers and their culture. While Maria secretly falls in love
with Hamdani, a love triangle ensues as Hamdani falls in love with another
student, Sheema. This resulted in Maria tragically staying unmarried for many
years due to circumstances beyond her control.
The second half of the book focuses on
Hamdani’s life story which is filled with trials and tribulations as he leaves
to New York alone after his marriage with Sheema to become a renowned lawyer.
The story takes several twists and keeps the reader engaged on the tales of
Hamdani’s second life in New York. While
Sheema is expecting a child, Hamdani becomes ignorant of her and focuses on his
double life in New York. Throughout Sheema’s pregnancy, she is cared for by the
mothers of the three main women in this book (Afrooz, Afshaan and Lily),
allowing Sheema to get a glimpse into her husband’s past with Maria.
The sick and ailing Mr Assad learns of his
son’s misgivings and forgives him, leading his son to return home to redeem
himself to be good father and husband. The happy family embrace their child,
Sana, and misfortune befalls the family once again.
Life slowly comes back to the house years
later. In the meantime, Stephen completes his book after spending one year in
the village, and received good news from the village on some of his characters.
Stephen leaves after completing his book and returns home to spend time with his
About the reviewer:
Husna is a Project Manager working in medical
research at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. She loves contributing
to public health research and working to build international collaborative
networks in the area of infectious disease.