Alif: Adam aur Havva (Adam and Eve)
Bay: Bait-ul-Ankaboot (House of spider)
Hay: Hasil-o-Mehsool (The acquired and the toll)
Yay: Ya Mujeeb-us-Sayileen (O You Who answers to prayers)
Alif: Abdan abada (The Eternal)
Tay: Tabarak-alladhi (The Blessed)”
Aab-e-Hayat (Elixir of Life in English) was probably the most awaited novel in Pakistan after its phenomenal and life-changing prequel Peer-e-Kamil ﷺ. We had been hearing news of its publication for almost 5 years and when Khawateen digest finally announced that the first episode was due to appear next month, fans were over the moon (and so were Khawateen digest’s sales :) )
First, a little background on why is Aab-e-Hayat is so near and dear to us! Peer-e-Kamil ﷺ was and remains to this day the most influential saga for our generation, that inspired, intrigued and then transformed many lives. The story however, remained incomplete as Hashim family’s side of the story had been paused when Imama left her house to save her Imaan. They still need to see the Light and still need to be saved. Both Salar and Imama’s life had been transformed in Peer-e-Kami ﷺ and now Aab-e-Hayat came to flip the coin and narrate the tale of their journey beyond.
The first episode was more of a teaser of what comes ahead and looks very promising. Knowing Umera Ahmed and her skills, and getting glimpse in terms of ‘taash kay pattay’, one remains assured it will be a novel par excellence. Will it exceed Peer-e-Kamil ﷺ, only time will tell. Reviewing it is a huge task as I am extremely biased towards it ;), but will try to remain as critical as possible.
Pace (3 out of 5)
Seven episodes later, I regret to say, we do not have much progress in the story. Majorly, the story focuses on the couple’s bumpy married life, Salar’s attempts at being a perfect husband and Imama’s cycles of ungratefulness, realization (in some cases) and regret. One major breakthrough was seen at the end of the sixth episode when Salar and Imama were confronted by Hashim Mubeen and son at a restaurant. We had all been expecting this confrontation but still my pulse raced while reading that scene. A blueprint was provided in the first episode, keeping that in mind, we have a long long way to go. No complaints though, the more the merrier. :)
“Aurat kay liye buhot sari naimaton mein se aik naimat us k shauhar ka us ki zaat par paisa kharch karna bhi hai. Aur ye naimat kiun tha, wo isay aj samajh payi thi.”
Character Evolution (4.5 out of 5)
No one can make you simultaneously hate and love a person more than Umera Ahmed. I knew Imama from the prequel as a mature, reasonable and understanding person. Now she has turned into a typical ungrateful, grudge-keeping and self-pitying wife. In her, Umera Ahmed depicts a woman who has braced hardships and trials bravely and patiently, but now when she is in the hands of a loving and caring husband, she is being extremely judgemental. One thing I cannot understand is her materialism. The way she has been planning and insisting about owning a villa or estate is beyond me. May be we will get an insight later.
“Woh sirf aik hi bat ka jawab dhoondhnay ki koshish kar rahi thi: Usay Salar par ghussa kiun ajata tha? Yun chhoti chhoti baton par…itnay salon mein jis aik ehsas ko who mukammal taur par bhool gai thi who ghussay ka ehsas hi tha…
…who namaz mein dair tak is sawal ka jawab dhoondhti rahi aur usay jawab mil gaya. 9 saal mein us ne pehli bar apne lye kisi ki zuban se muhubbat ka izhar suna tha. Woh ‘ehsan’ karney walon kay hujoom mein thi, pehli bar kisi muhubbat karne wale kay hisaar mein ai thi, Gila, shikwa, naaz, nakhra, ghussa, khafgi ye sab kaise na hota? Usay ‘pata’ that kay jab woh roothay gi to woh usay manal le ga, khafa hogi to woh usay wazahatein de ga, maan tha ya gumaan tha…lekin jo kuch bhi tha ghalat nahi tha. Itnay salon mein jo kuch us k andar jama hogaya tha , wo kisi lavay ki tarha nikal raha tha. Ahista ahista woh normal ho rahi thi.”
As for Salar’s character, he has exceeded my expectations at being a good human being and a loving and understanding husband. The way his mindset has evolved is evident in his actions. But I have a feeling (and I am afraid to express it) is that one day or the other he will crack and his fears towards Imama’s disloyalty will take a toll off their married life. Just as it did when Imama went to meet Jalal Ansar (who has ‘evolved’ or should we say ‘devolved’ very much on his own).
Anticipation for the Next Episode (3.5 out of 5)
The way story has been appearing up till now, there was little room for anticipation on the basis of narration alone. BUT, as the first episode has teased a lot of great stuff to look forward to, anticipation for next instalment remains high every month.
On a different note though, scar on Salar’s shoulder due to knife attack by Hashim Mubeen was superb. In Peer-e-Kamil ﷺ I thought it would be because of his many adventures, but the way it was connected to the next part of the story was mark of a brilliant writer.
Humour (3.5 out of 5)
Umera Ahmed is notorious for her heart-wrenchingly sad stories, but occasionally there are bits of one-liners that lift off the mood. This criterion may not be the best for judging a good novel, but common people like us love these little jokes, right? :)
Some examples are:
“Saeeda Amma: ‘Ye samnay wale Zahoor sahib ka baitay ne Amina ko kaheen dekh lia tha, Maan baap ko saf saf keh dia tha kay shadi karoonga to sirf isi larki se. Khala ki beti se bachpan ki mangni bhi tor di’
Is bar Salar ne halvay ki plate table par rakh di. Woh kam az kam Imama kay kisi aisay rishtay ki tafseelat mazay se halva khate hue nahi sun sakta tha.”
“Saeeda Amma: ‘Ooncha lamba jawan hai. Qad tum se bhi koi adha foot zyada hi hoga’
Amma mubalighay ki akhri hadon ko chhoo rahi theen. Salar ka apna qad 6 feet 2 inch kay barabar tha aur adha foot zyada hone ka matlab taqreeban ponay 7 feet tha, jo kam az kam Lahore mein paya jana mumkin nahi to mushkil zaroor tha.”
“Aurat izhar-e-muhubbat aur satayish ko kabhi hum-maani nahi samajhti. Ye kaam mard karta hai aur ghalata karta hai.”
Well that is it from my side. This is my first review for Reviewit, so if there are any shortcomings (I am sure there are), please do let me know.
Looking forward to your feedback. :)