Fall 2021

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An intense story of an uneven conflict where Sardar Timur Barlas, an almighty, powerful, and influential landlord in a remote town in Pakistan goes against Zara Bibi & her husband Shams – his lowly, poor, and helpless servants. While trying to protect her master’s interest, Zara Bibi opens up gates of hell for her only son Gul when she discovered him holding Timur’s young daughter Farah in an unholy embrace in presence of a crowd she had gathered. Gul accidentally walked into undesired and untimely adolescence which his mother turned into a deadly minefield for him. All-powerful Sardar Timur calls for a façade of a trial with unspeakable consequences for the poor family. Mullah Aziz, the leader of the town’s largest mosque, renowned for his firebrand sermons and radical idealism, is called forth to gather a jury of sorts, along with a morally conflicted journalist Turab to provide legal cover for Sardar Timur’s vigilante justice. The predetermined sentence for Gul, regardless of his guilt or innocence, would deprive him of the essence of a male child. Zara Bibi and her husband are offered a horrendous choice to present their only daughter Noor to accept the grave punishment in place of her brother so he can remain a whole man. The very men of the home Zara Bibi and Noor looked for protection are forced to ask that their women sacrifice themselves so their ‘maleness’ can be saved.

In this heart-wrenching account of hellish circumstance, the story critiques issues of patriarchy, misogyny, unequal treatment of genders, the mistreatment of women, debate about female empowerment perceived to have run amok, and a debased and regressive society—all with insurmountable compassion for its people, the culture, and unrelenting hope for a just and better life.

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The Author

Naim Haroon Sakhia is a CA Attorney-at-Law with a long history of successfully representing the client’s interests under the law in various legal forums, administrative agencies, and courts. He published multiple Urdu language short stories in the early ’90s in Pakistan’s leading magazines, before moving to the USA. After a long hiatus from writing, he penned his debut English novel ‘In Women We Trust’ inspired by real & unfortunate events that keep occurring in the name of the informal and corrupt parallel justice system, serving the whims and interests of the powerful at the expense of their dominated subjects, in many places across the globe.

The Excerpts

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