It is ironic that for quite some time I have lost my appetite for English reading; despite writing in English for over six years now. Here I cannot dare nullifying the finesse of English literature that has captivated many readers (including me) for years and will continue doing so. I guess as we grow up we get closer to our roots and identity. We get to know more of who we are and also come to terms with the flaws and imperfections. Same happened to me. Over time, my interest in Urdu literature has increased because I can relate to it. The stories that I come across in my mother tongue are those I can breathe and feel. Although English language still comes more easily to me but Urdu literature is something that resonates with my heart more strongly. Every time I visit Pakistan, my first (and also last) shopping place is a bookstore where I can comfortably find Urdu books that prove to be my travel companions and connection to my roots in a foreign land. It feels as if Pakistan is just a bookshelf away. From Munshi Prem Chand to Mustanser Hussain Tarar, yours truly has inhaled it all. However, this time I had something different in my head. I knew exactly what I wanted: ‘Taoos Faqat Rung’ by my dear friend Neelam Ahmed Bashir. Although we do not get to meet much, Neelam and I have an innate unexplainable bond. Regretfully I had not read much of her work except a few short stories till now; all being very cutthroat and uncommon for a contemporary woman writer. When I got to know of her first novel out in market, I was sure what I was taking with myself on the way back. As soon as I got home, this novel was in my hands. The title page is a beautiful yet mysterious piece of art designed by her niece Sadaf Nasir. This family is blessed with some extremely creative gene pool. I would prefer staying away from praising rest of the members though, since this piece is strictly for Neelam and her piece of literature. My luggage was still unpacked, my head still slightly dizzy. I thought I would take a break by reading a few pages away and then resume my unpacking. But oh my! I was wrong once again. When you start reading, I would take this as an opportunity to warn you beforehand that make sure you read this book in your free time since it will keep you glued. Just like a vacuum pump, ‘Taoos Faqat Rung’ will suck you in. I must confess that when I started reading I was wondering if I will be able to relate with a story set in America. Like before, wrong again! Neelam has left no stone unturned to show a very realistic grey side of America that has always been painted either black or white by the rest of the world. As the story reaches its climax you can actually feel chills down your spine, anguish through your blood. It is a story of how 9/11 affected the lives of many Pakistani Americans. The central character of the story Murad from a broken family loses his job and friends right after this tragic incident. His life takes a whole new turn as the country he considered his home since birth remains no more his. People around are both wary and skeptical of Muslims a lot more than before. The land of opportunities chooses to close all its gates on him and here he comes across a Guyanese family who welcome him with open arms. Murad’s life and novel both take a new turn. Various aspects of American mixed race society unfold in a mysterious and uncomplicated fashion. This is the time when you cannot even force yourself to put the book down. The climax and twists are bound to keep you hooked. I am trying my level best not to bring forward rest of the aspects of this story as it is for you to read and discover. Neelam has left no stone unturned to show a very realistic grey side of America that has always been painted either black or white by the rest of the world. As the story reaches its climax you can actually feel chills down your spine, anguish through your blood. The story is unpredictable till the end and makes you curious to read and find more. This clearly proves her mettle as a writer who knows her job quite on point. Ironically, we do appreciate the classical Urdu writers every now and then forgetting that many contemporary writers are also producing significant work. In times like these when book-reading is being sadly replaced by smart phones and tablets, ‘Taoos Faqat Rung’ is a refreshing attempt to bring people back to the fascinating world of books. It is real and intriguing, in accordance with the reader of today’s world. Neelam, this is not just a review. It is an ode to your finesse and craft that places your work on the pedestal that will be remembered for years to come. The author has done her job brilliantly. Now is the time for us as readers to be inspired and fascinated by ‘Taoos Faqat Rung’ – a story that is destined to leave its prints on our lives forever. Happy reading!