There is nothing epic about this book written by a soldier. It is not Homer’s Iliad or Virgil’s Aeneid. It resembles nothing like the letters written during World War I that depict the richest of war literature.
Hasil-e-Muhabbat can pass off as a semi-philosophical plea for sanity by a civilian trying to understand the complexities of love.
Only, the author, Captain (retd) Liaqat Ali Malik, has been a soldier, who has been through serving at the merciless Siachen, and has served the police. Perhaps that is what is interesting about this 270-page book published by Sang-e-Meel Publications – you can’t really fit it into a genre.
The preface is a clear indication that Malik is a Malamati sufi, following the way of blame. In true tradition of this sufi order, he braces his nafs (self) against any praise and indulges in modesty. He attempts at confessing that the following pages have nothing but his inner darkness dispelled on paper.
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He confesses to sin, to rebellion and to negativity and states categorically that the target audience is not people of adab or the literati, but are actually who are, like him, the lowest of the low.
The preface is followed by perhaps the most coherent part of the book – a string of five forewords by four men and a woman of understanding.
Renowned writer Bano Qudsia’s preface is not gushing with praise for the writer, unlike the one by another writer Professor Abdullah Bhatti.
But Bano Apa, as she is fondly called, sees potential in the writer, as does famous travel writer Mustansir Hussain Tarar. She rightly points out that a less rugged, raw and perhaps a finer style of writing is what Malik may evolve into learning. However, it is actually Qudsia’s preface that threads the following book with the idea of love in varied forms. “The station of love in the mind is the same as habit, addiction, motivation and pleasures,” she writes.
The rest of the book is a fascinating blend of short chapters, with the writer taking on multiple personas and using various literary techniques.
Arguably the strongest and most impactful parts are the chapters Madrassa, Maulvi aur Khudkush Bambaar and Eid Miladun Nabi. In the latter, the writer lays bare the commercialism that sometimes takes away from the spirituality of religious observances in a blunt and honest manner.
He, in simple words, has a knack for saying things that every reader can relate to. On page 117, the appreciation of a husband for the wife’s service in the mundane is beautifully penned.
But it is Malik’s nuggets of wisdom and one-liners that leave a lasting impression.
For readers who like to dabble with labyrinthine concepts and philosophies, reading this will be an interesting experience. Malik’s test, though, is that his words convince the reader to finish the book and not just skim through it in a haphazard manner.
Author: Captain (retd) Liaqat Ali Malik
Publisher: Sang-e-Meel Publications
The writer is a former staffer at The Express Tribune
Published in The Express Tribune, April 10th, 2016.
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