And When She SmiledAuthor: Dr Saulat Naqi Going through Saulat Nagi’s novel And When She Smiled reminded me of when I read Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s novel “Love in the time of Cholera” which often reminds me that love is strange and when we grow older it gets stranger. In his novel Saulat develops made me wonder, where, would any of us be without romance? And that perhaps it is possible, to not only worship love ‘forever, but to actually to follow through on it — to live a long life based on such a deep thoughtfulness, that the physical need of sex would have turned into an instinctive art of being human which can drive misery from our bodies. Emerging from slow paced story in the beginning, the characters Ahmed and Fatima take the liberty given to them by the author’s pensive fervour. They discuss the Neitzsche, his beliefs and experiences with women. Another character, Mariah, is a symbol of breaking societal norms and thus liberating society itself. The novel is revolutionary and explores the relation between love and sacrifice. While referring to Poseidon, the god of the sea’s fling with Medusa in the temple of Athena, the superego decides to punish the former. Referring to the incident, one character says “I fail to understand why these so called supernatural things are so offended with this act of love. Perhaps they themselves are incapable of doing it”. ‘Life itself is caged in a big brothel. People are invited to watch only one side of the beauty, a predetermined regulated beauty that is merely skin-deep. In hurry, they do what they are trained to do. Fast tracking deprives them from the aesthetic’ In the post romantic recession of the 70s and 80’s with everybody ‘wised up’ and even growing paranoid about love, once the magical exhortation of the 60’s, it is a daring step for any writer to work on the topic. To take it, with all its folly, ambiguity and lapses in taste, at all seriously -that is, as well worth to those higher forms of play that we value in fiction. I would say the layered story played its role while depicting the lucidity against fierce bourgeois society. It could be argued that this is the only honest way to write about love, and within love unveiling another world of ailing society’s norms. Without the darkness and the finitude and some of the religious taboos, there might be romance and erotica with all its implications in our society; by the way, these are well represented in this novel. I must applaud how Saulat told this story; it significantly develops the reader’s interest in the beginning, though the pace gets slow later, yet the story takes another twist through Ahmed’s lengthy letter to Fatima with the imaginatively attuned skill of the writer. At the end, the novel lost some of the gigantic canvas it had used in its earlier narrative ina philosophical way and it looked like it had gone into another world. As the plot unfolds, slowly in the beginning, the characters Ahmed and Fatima emerge to claim their liberty. They discuss Neitzsche and his beliefs and experiences with women. Another character, Mariah, serves as a symbol of struggle to break societal norms and, thus, liberate society itself “I’m not scared to die,” Mariah continued, “but I regret not to have lived a life of my dreams but then how many people are provided with this opportunity. Life itself is caged in a big brothel. People are invited to watch only one side of the beauty, a predetermined regulated beauty that is merely skin-deep. In hurry, they do what they are trained to do. Fast track sensuality deprives them from aesthetic. They see but they do not look, they do but not perform, they mate but not enjoy. This is their fate.” That’s a how dying Mariah divulges her vows. Concluding the review, there is nothing I have read quite like this amazing novel. It is symphonic in its dynamics and tempo and moves like a motorboat. It’s opening chapter, as I said earlier keeps a slow pace. Yet teeters closely to the hazards of scepticism and compassion. Finally I would say it is a must-read novel. The reviewer is a freelance novelist/short story writer/columnist (bilingual). He lives in Lahore. He can be contacted firstname.lastname@example.org Published in Daily Times, September 27th 2017.