LAHORE   -   Fakhar Zaman’s new novel ‘The Life of Ahmed’ has proved he is a writer who can gather his thoughts about what he believes in and write them down without any fear.

There are 34 thresholds or you may call them life chapters of main antagonist of the novel, Ahmed. The novel grabs your attention from the beginning because of Ahmed’s strong connection to communal riots in Punjab during the division of British India into two countries. One million people lost their lives in the partition.

Ahmed is sort of person who you would find undoubtedly a true lover of Punjabi languages, tradition, folktales and customs. Ahmed’s initial memory of his boyhood was finding traces at the house of Tulla, a folklore character, after listening to ‘Qissa Sohni Mahiwal’ by Fazal Shah through his friend in Gujarat. He often cycled to the bank of the River Chenab with his friend Rashid. His inspiration was pigeon’s den in his house.

His first visit to Holland opened doors of opportunities for him and he feels strongly nostalgic about the years he spent in Holland. Ahmed’s life has been through many ups and downs. He attended seminars in Stockholm and met Swedish poet Peter Currman, who wrote the famous poem ‘What can a lonely poet do against the war? My answer is a lot! Poems are not bullets that kill, Poems are bullets of life.

Ahmed remembered a sitting in Delhi Gymkhana Club during his visit to an International Sufi Conference, where he met Kanwar Amrit Lal who was also from Gujrat (Pakistan) and the two shared a moment of silence and hugged each other because they belonged to the same village.

Fakhar’s commitment to writing novel earned him acknowledgment from famous Punjabi poet and novelist Amrita Pritum who said Fakhar’s Punjabi novel set a new writing trend in Pakistan and India. He later joined the Pakistan People’s Party in 1970 after a meeting with Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and remained with the party in thick and thin. To know insights about some of the valuable incidents of history of that era you need to read the book.

Fakhar discussed in detail about his five Punjabi books, including is modern classic novel “Bandiwan” (the prisoner) who was proscribed, lifted from book stores and burned publically by the military regime in 1978 and thereafter a long drawn litigation, the ban was lifted after 19 years. He was imprisoned in Ziaul Haq era. He also described his days and nights in jail and his love for Sufi poets of land of five rivers.

The writer of novel, Fakhar, is an author of 40 books already in Punjabi, Urdu and English. His Punjabi novels and poetry have been translated into several major languages.

Fakhar Zaman is the only writer whose five books were banned in one go and released after many years. He has received several international and national awards, including the prestigious Hilal-e-Imtiaz and Sitara-e-Imtiaz awards from the Pakistan government. He also received Shiromani Sahitak award and Millennium Award for Best Punjabi Novelist of 20th Century from the Indian government.

Fakahar Zaman was a minister in Benazir Bhutto’s government, a senator and two times chairman of the Pakistan Academy of Letters. Presently, he is chairman of the World Punjabi Congress and International Sufi Council.

In fact, the novel is a life journey of Fakhar Zaman himself. This is a unique way to write ‘autobiographies’ and perhaps it would add a new course of writing life stories in fiction writing. Fakhar has taken a bold step and he must receive appreciation for this because his novel has all ingredients like history, heroes, villains, characters, plot, excitement, climax, remorse and love.