The Story


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.

How this novel is being reviewed:

“A captivating drama in pursuit of dramatic truth” —Kirkus Reviews (Kirkus Verdict: Get it)