Fakhar Zaman’s treasure of remarkable writings has been yet again adorned by another magnificent book, an English novel, titled The Life of Ahmed – Thresholds.Apart from other unique features of this novel compared to his previous works is the fact that this is his first English novel. Fakhar Zaman has authored some 40 books so far, mostly in Punjabi and Urdu, comprising poetry, short stories and novels, which have been translated into English and other languages of the world. For those who can read Punjabi, his novels like Bandiwan, Ik Maray Banday Di Kahani and Sat Gawachay Lok are shining pieces of literature that one cannot simply ignore. In fact the story of famous Indian movie “Lagaan” staring Aamir Khan was loosely based on his novel “Dead Man’s Tale”, but disappointingly, without crediting his work. Having so many fans on both sides of the borders of Pakistan and India, he is among those few writers and intellectuals who freed the minds across continents and hoisted the flag of humanity in worst of the times. That is why he has been awarded the prestigious Hilal-e-Imtiaz and Sitara-e-Imtiaz by Pakistani government. His political career as Senator and Minister is a witness of his practical struggles for the voiceless and downtrodden of the society. A true warrior, who knows exactly when to break the sheath of his sword and when to fight with pen. His new novel is a testament to his wars and peace in life, although classified as fiction but unlike his previous novels, the symbols and surreal happenings in this novel are left for the reader’s imagination to establish its genre. “The Life of Ahmed – Thresholds” is not the usual boy meets girl story, it is rather the story of a boy who turns into a man by tasting the greetings and banishment of life. From the carefree days of childhood when scouting the bank of river Chenab for the traces of Sohni and Mahiwal was the only objective of life, to challenging the dictators of his time, Ahmed’s steps across every threshold of his life are remarkably collected by the writer. The details are so minute that when Ahmed touches the newly laid eggs with his hand, it is the reader who feels its warmth. Fakhar Zaman’s main character in this novel is Ahmed, who as a young boy is the witness of the massacres of the partition and yet a solace as a man later in his life for those who suffered. Fakhar Zaman depicts the early life of Ahmed as carefree but sensitive to the cruelty of the society, his life in Punjab is a canvas of culture and traditions of Punjabi household. One can say that Fakhar Zaman yet once again successfully painted his novel’s character in Punjab’s colours. Later when this Punjabi boy goes abroad for higher studies, his free nature lands him among the most versatile friends belonging to different countries, having a rainbow of cultures from around the globe. This phase of the young boy’s life is so well documented by the writer that the reader, at times, finds himself or herself singing the famous song “Never on a Sunday” while walking beside Ahmed in the streets of Rhodes Island.Fakhar Zaman also recounts the days of Ahmed spent with his friends in Lahore. While introducing each one of them, the writer has made sure that the readers establish an acquaintance of Ahmed’s friends to a degree where they find themselves enjoying their company and laughing at their mischievous and hilarious moodsFakhar Zaman also recounts the days of Ahmed spent with his friends in Lahore. While introducing each one of them, the writer has made sure that the readers establish an acquaintance of Ahmed’s friends to a degree where they find themselves enjoying their company and laughing at their mischievous and hilarious moods. Fakhar Zaman has gathered, for the readers, in this phase of life of Ahmed all the tiny reasons to forget the sadness of life’s darkest moments and enjoy the very seconds of companionship of friends. Later one finds that, these friends were not just the companions of happy days rather proved their friendship in the harsh weather of the life of Ahmed as well. The most unforgiving thresholds of the life of Ahmed, as written by Fakhar Zaman, are those involving his time in Jail on charges of opposing and struggling against the ruthless dictator of his time, through his writings. The life in jail seems to be a recollection of Fakhar Zaman’s own experiences; that is the level of capturing the life in prison one finds in this novel. From jail’s slangs to the daily schedules, every aspect of prisoner’s life is well accounted for by the writer in this novel. He also reflects in details the atrocities inflicted over the prisoners by the cruel dictator through the jail staff. The agony of daily torture and the numbness of excessive pain due to clotting of blood under the skin as a result of lashes on bare back, every sensation can be felt by the reader. In this phase of the life of Ahmed, Fakhar Zaman has enlightened the dehumanizing features of society’s egoistic and inconsiderate behaviors while at the same time mirroring the unwavering resolve of the few to face those atrocities while mumbling poems of hope and freedom. Fakhar Zaman’s portrayal of the ruthless dictator is quite relatable by the readers, thus appears to be a character that once lived outside his novel.Ahmed’s political and professional life is a document of a rotten system where officials are opportunists who salute all the regimes, without having any ideological will and commitment. Fakhar Zaman has intelligently placed few incidents from Ahmed’s life as a government officer. Although Fakhar Zaman has included poetry by different poets including his own poetry relating to Ahmed’s life across this novel but in the last part of the novel, Fakhar Zaman has selected Sufi poetry and brief introductions of each of the Sufi poets, alongside details of its impact over Ahmed’s life. Zaman has beautifully explained the importance of Sufism in keeping humanity apart from its animalistic nature and the positive impact of Sufi poetry over the life of Ahmed proves to be a guideline for the readers to establish references from Sufism for their own lives.The novel as a whole is so colourful in emotions and rich from different moods that each chapter or the threshold, as named by the writer, captures the attention of the readers rejuvenating their interest in the Life of Ahmed. Those who know Fakhar Zaman will find this novel as a self portrait of a writer who is a fighter. This novel is a must read especially by the youth confused of their reason of life.Among the many poems included by Zaman in this novel, this poem of Fakhar Zaman well summaries his novel,Out of my body spring forthMany branches, many hands, many limbsJutting forth towards the skyRunning their tongues over their parched lipsOut of my body spring forthMy roots, my many feetScissoring their way into the earthThirsty for its watersThe earth I stand on is moth-eatenThe woodpeckers quarryShelter of mice and snakesOf little insectsI witness the world in silenceBut let me tell you, my childrenIf I break and fall, as I might one dayThe earth and skyWill nestle you in their lap.