I first came to know of Aatish Taseer in one of his famous news articles. To be honest, it is his familial background that intrigued me. Not every day do you come across a woman of steel, who lives life on her terms, fearless, bold and free. A woman like no other, Tavleen Sigh brought up her son single-handedly, after Salman Taseer, slain Pakistan Governor who refused to acknowledge Aatish as his son, eyeing his political ambitions.
This book is Aatish’s journey in search of a religion he has got from his father, a religion he never grew up in. It is in search of an identity which has been given to him. It is a quest of a son to know and understand a religion that links him to his illustrious father! The book is a well written piece is a given, but tears your soul is the way it is written. It narrates why Aatish sets off on this journey through the Muslim nations trying to link it to his existence. A small anecdote that touched me beyond words is when a very awkward Aatish is forced to stay at the aunt’s house full of cousins whom he never connected to. It was his cousins reaction to his privates, which differentiated him from them in terms of religious faith; threw up a biases and practices that makes us differentiate one faith from another which becomes much, so much more than just religious beliefs! Just trying to figure just what kind of impact this incident had on a 6 year old sends shudder down my spine!
Through the book, we get insight on the kind of woman Tavleen Singh is. We know her as a bold and fearless political journalist and a much known author of Durbar; in this book we know her as a mum, a woman deeply in love with a man who changed the course of her life and her much loved son, a fruit of the great love. I have to give it to the book for the candid narration. My respect for the kind of woman Tavleen Singh has grown manifolds, imagine a woman in the 1980’s going ahead to have a son from a Pakistani father, all alone on her own terms. A man who had abandoned her, disrespected her and had never really publicly acknowledged their son, Tavleen Singh gave her son a fair upbringing never trying to malign her son’s perception of his father; something which is apparent in the way the book is written. Maturity and strength of character is what a wholesome upbringing gives you and through Aatish’s writing you are left reeling under so many conflicting emotions. You realize the anguish of a growing boy who knows his father through anecdotes from his mother and newspaper clippings.
While the book is a personal account, a journey undertaken by a son to know his religion better in a way to understand the estranged father better; the book has so much to teach. So many insights into the faith. Islam and the way it is perceived in the various Muslim countries. It makes you think, rationalize, realize just how perceptions differ even if the people belong to the same faith.
If you are someone who like political writing, this is a must read. Otherwise too it is an intense and great read. I loved each and every pages that i read. It took me time to finish this book. It is one of those books you savour and read, you read and comprehend and then read some more.
A must read.
Publisher: Harper Collins