Review: The Pakistani Bride by Bapsi Sidhwa

The magnificently beautiful territories of Northern Pakistan are brought to words just perfectly in this piece of writing. It pictures so, because it’s about a tribal man, Qasim, who took an orphan girl for his daughter and brought her to the sparkling city of Lahore. In the middle of the crowded bazaars and streets, he tries hard for his luck and settles down in the big city with his daughter.
Days pass by and he grows homesick for life in the village where he was born. The turning point is when all the happy moments start fading away after the unwise decision is taken by Qasim. The man promises his daughter in marriage to a man of his tribe, but once she arrives in the mountains, the ancient customs of unquestioning obedience and backbreaking work brings her to bad luck. There, escape is not an option for her.
This story is about the conflict between loyalty to traditions and the unconquerable power of a woman’s spirit. When you read it, it gives a good idea about the society just after the partition of India and Pakistan. The positive point of this book is that it portraits the cruelties done to women in the tribal areas but it does not offend the feelings of patriotism.
The orphan girl, Zaitoon doesn’t seem to adjust. Just when she is striving hard for her life, a story of an American girl married to an Army officer posted in the same area meets Zaitoon. Carol’s character represents the complications of an outsider who brings with her attitude of glamour, some influence of Asians, and White Man’s Burden all in one go.
Carol is juggling her thoughts and is in a dilemma where she cannot decide whether she falls in love with her man who offers security or with any man who may offer more time and attention. Struggling with her own confusions and insecurities she looks down upon Pakistani women and regards Pakistan as a place that ask for safety from her. Based on the lives of the characters of Zaitoon and Carol, it is interesting how this story unfolds and how everything settles in an unexpected pattern.

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