Book Review: A Hundred Journeys (Stories of My Fatherland) by Omar Zafarullah

  • ISBN: 978-81-291-4739-4
  • Genre: Fiction
  • Publishers: Rupa Publishers
  • Price: Rs. 295/-  ( I got the book for review from the publisher)
I write because I need you to know what I cannot say. I write about the past, about family, about country, because they all speak to me about my father…’

Addressed to Hyder, his son, Omar Zafarullah’s A Hundred Journeys is part memoir and part manual for living. With the help of his family’s personal history, the author attempts to explain Pakistan to Hyder, a narrative which is intensely personal but deeply political too.

The journey begins in the early 1900s when the family migrates from Ropar (in India’s Punjab) to Gojra (in Pakistan’s Punjab) in search of a better future. The book is filled with inspiring characters—Zafarullah’s great-grandmother, Maaji, a woman with an iron will who challenged patriarchy in her efforts to take the family out of the throes of poverty; his highly respected doctor–grandfather whose perseverance turned around the fortunes of his family; his friend Khawaja Imran who helped him bounce back from a failed business and many others. With instructions on how to jump a busy intersection, to the travails of setting up a business and on to the advent of the War on Terror that has shaken the core of the country, this book portrays everyday life in Pakistan with an immediacy that is poignant and striking.

Behind the Book
About the Author
Omar Zafarullah is a mechanical engineer with a degree from Yale University, Connecticut, USA and is an executive in a Fortune 500 company. He regularly contributes articles to The News, the most-read daily in Pakistan. Zafarullah is married to a doctor, Saira and has two children, Hyder and Maya. He belongs to Gojra and lives in Lahore.

Me thinks

There couldn't have been a better time for me to read this book. I recently lost my grandfather, someone I was very close to. He had introduced me to reading and writing. Together we shared a lot of common things , including birthday and favourite writers and could talk about books endlessly for hours. My most favourite memories have to be of the Sunday afternoons spent in Crossword trying to decide which one will it be today.

There have been so many places  in the book I was teary eyed and had to stop for the fear of choking on them. The author's poignant narrative brought back those memories of the times bygone which I tried to relive them with my grandfather through the book. This book is a perfect gift from a father to his son talking about all that was theirs and how though he has grown up, he needs to know his own history, he needs to hear the stories he was a part of much before he was born and he needs to believe in the power of love which helped the generations before his cross oceans, it will help him also.From these pages I derived strength, I learnt the deeper meaning of survival and most importantly I understood how deep and powerful the ties of blood can be. 

At the onset though it looks like a father sharing the hardships of his life with his son, at the core of the book it is a moving portrayal of how a father lay bare his heart before his son showing him all his wounds and injuries in an effort to get more closer to him. By showing his fragility he tells his son that in life to win wars you don't need to have the best of weapons or artillery, all you need is fierce determination and a never give up attitude. We have come a far way and now it is your turn to take it all ahead and add more pages to this story before sharing it with your next generation.

Evocative language, tender account of life during its turbulent phases and harsh reality of it all, makes this one a brilliant read .Strongly recommended. For your reading, for gifting to your parents or loved ones because this is the best keep sake for them to cherish for long.

Foodie Verdict

This book is like Curd Rice - comfort food for soul, simple, delicious and has a magical ingredient that can soothe fraying nerves anytime.

Source: NDTV Food

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