Title: THE WANDERING FALCON
Author: JAMIL AHMAD
Published By: Penguin Books in 2011
The Wandering Falcon is a fictional book by Jamil Ahmad, a retired Pakistani civil servant, who worked as an administrator in the remote areas of Baluchistan and Pak-Afghan border. It is a collection of several short stories revolving around the tribal lives at the borders of Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. It has 181 pages.
The book begins with the tale of the daughter of Siahpad tribe’s chief, who elopes with her father’s servant leaving her impotent husband behind. They find shelter in an isolated fort which is guarded by a score of soldiers, who provides them with some basic necessities there. They spend 6 years of their life living in the fort where she even gives birth to a boy whom they both raise among the fear and dread of being caught when one day their concern turns into reality and the tribesmen traces them, killing the two but leaving behind their son, Tor Baz. He turns out to be what the title is, “The Wandering Falcon”.
The book has many other tales of the tribes going along with the story of how Tor Baz (meaning the Black Falcon) turns into a wanderer with no home and how his life is full of uncertainties that every other day brings for him. The book has highlighted some very unknown ways of life that the tribes follow, how their lives are full of struggles when they have to move between hills and the plains depending on the season. These stories have even depicted the life of the tribal women who are married off in exchange of a bride price, how some of them are even kidnapped and sold off in the market as maids for the city people, the tussle the tribesmen have to go through in order to fight the government of the neo-states for their own land they have acquired since centuries, the land on which their forefathers lived.
The story that touched me the most, reveals the bitter truth of the contemporary governments and the sheer innocence of the tribe’s men and women. The chapter is called “The Death of Camels”, that narrates the story of a group of cattle herders moving with their flocks from the Afghan mountains to the plains of Pakistan during the winters but they are stopped by the officers who are implementing the court’s order to not allow them entry inside. They have been travelling for a long time and their camels and other animals were dying of thirst. One of the women, unaware of the modern state tactics doesn’t heed to the instructions of the soldiers and moves forward with some camels, keeping a copy of Koran on her head, and believing that nothing can happen to her. Two machine guns opened from the other side and mow down the camel also indiscriminately killing many men, women, and children. “Gul Jana’s belief that the Koran would prevent tragedy died too.” This story has somewhere deeply struck me and has made me wonder about how cruel modern day people can be in spite of the fact we talk every day about the dignity of man, right to life, exploitation of poor, human rights but we are the ones snatching them away.
While reading the book you will feel for the people who are so different from us and living in ways that we consider as ancient but still they want to preserve those ways of living. It will make you ponder about the duality of the world we are living in that on one side wants to make people civilized and on the other side uses uncivilized means to achieve its aim.
The Book overall is an articulatory piece of writing which speaks about some untold, unheard stories and brings to the limelight the plight of people long forgotten in our picture of a developed world.
The language of the book is very easy to understand and relatable. The only thing I felt lacking while reading the book was, I was sometimes unable to connect the scene until I came across some familiar name from the story before.
So, I would suggest if you choose this book to read then try to read it, in as much minimum time as you can so that you do not move away from the track. The stories have to be related otherwise touch will be lost and that can lead to loss of interest from the storyline.
All in all, the book is a good one to pick and read.
Some hidden truths of hidden people and their places.
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Have you ever come across any such tribe who is struggling with the ways of the modern era? Do share your stories with us, we would love to listen. Thank You!
NOTE: The book review is based on my personal interpretation of the book. No paid promotions & biases involved.