Book Review: How It Happened

There is a girl in her twenties, part of a work force, with a marital status that screams ‘I m single, save me’. Whenever and where ever she goes and happens to come across aunties, they ask her either verbally or non verbally, ‘beta why not married yet? Something wrong?’ It is then followed by a full body scan via the sharp laser eyes. If you happen to be the above, then Shazaf Fatima Haider’s tale of ‘How It Happened’ is a must read for you. The single happy creatures living in South Asia can totally relate to this.
Set in the city of lights, Karachi, the story revolves around Zeba, a teacher by profession, a bookworm and a cynic by nature and single by status. Her family includes a mother, a father, a brother and a sister, not to forget the dramatic/nostalgic Dadi retelling the stories from her ancestral village of Bhakuraj. The story is narrated by her Naïve 15 year old sibling Saleha which adds freshness to the perspective. Family values and customs are deeply imbedded in the memory of their eccentric Dadi who vows to follow them unto death; arrange marriage of her grandchildren being her priority.
The fun in the story begins right at the start when the writer very cleverly mentions the words ‘arrange marriage’ followed by an amusing story from the proud Bhakuraj. Saleha’s naivety adds humour to the story along with the failed attempts by the Dadi to marry off her grandchildren in her esteemed Bhukraj family.
There is Haroon the eldest brother who fills up the sub plot with his story of how he marries much to the nuisance of Dadi first and delight later. Haroon’s story also prepares the reader with what awaits them – the main debates of shia sunni union, the whole drawing room rishta episodes (where match making takes place) that reeks of ‘tradition’ going stale and the question of an eastern girl crossing 25 yet living a happy single life.
The story has its moments of seriousness when the family finds itself in the middle of a row. There comes a twist when Zeba finds the love of her life and expresses or let’s say gets caught dating a Sunni young man by Dadi amid the shia mourning time. The circumstances under which her family learns of her tryst and how the events lead to impeccable rishtas/ suitors for Zeba are wonderfully woven with good punch lines that are totally relatable in our day to day life.
If you are looking for a light humorous read, this debut novel is a recommendation as its story is right out of our lives or the lives of those around us. The writer is very Pakistani; her story I would say is a safe pick but again it is very Pakistani and the satire right on spot.

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4 thoughts on “Book Review: How It Happened

  1. Abeer says:

    Good review. And i feel like i am going to pit in on priority as i can totally relate to it. – The sigle happy *creatures* living in South Asia 😛

  2. Abeer says:

    Hmmm… Good question!
    I don’t know why but i don’t feel like writing now. And when i try to; i find myself out of words, or feel like they are not good enough.
    Still, there are number of incomplete posts in my blogger drafts 😦

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