Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Mohktar, Hatef. The Red Wrath: A Journey Between Two Destinies.
Mohktar, Hatef. The Red Wrath: A Journey Between Two Destinies. Houston, Texas: Strategic Book Publishing and Rights 07/31/2012. ISBN-10: 1618974599; ISBN-13: 978-1618974594. 474 (pp); $24.50
Asif lives in Oslo maintaining a flat subsidized by the government and working hard at unskilled labor every day. He meets, by chance, his old friend Akram from his village at home in Afghanistan. Being with Akram and his family, Asif remembers and writes.
Before the Communist coup, in 1979, that brought in thousands of Soviet troops; the village of Shir Abad was a place where Uzbeks, Pushtoons, Hazaras, and Tajiks lived as neighbors in Muslim peace and mutual support. Asif and his friends and neighbors, both boys and girls, attended school. Then, on Saturdays, they studied the Quran with the Imaam. Children grew and played and learned and lived in families that honored one another.
“In the pre-Soviet War era, the society was unaware of the word ‘discrimination,’ Everyone no matter from which caste, tribe, creed, race, color or gender was always welcomed with open arms. People found support everywhere they went. But war and politics the two carcinogenic ailments, had diseased the modern society.” Asif’s family lived not only by the Muslim Quran, but also by the ancient Pashtoon law passed orally from father to son.
He experienced his first separations at the age of 13 when the Noor (light) of his heart, his hummingbird, was married to a man old enough to be her grandfather. Her stepmother, a divorcee from another village, created this handiwork. Latifa’s purity of heart, soul, and body brought a high bride price from this rich man Qalandar. Asif knew it was something Latifa’s own mother, who was like his aunt, would never have allowed. Latifa, the child scholar, moved out of his life overnight to another village where she was stepmother to children older than she.
Then Asif’s father, Zulfikar Khan, stood in the mosque and spoke against the new regime saying “This is the beginning of the end of Afghanistan as we know it.” His father moves his family in the night to another village. Then came the tanks. Zulfikar taken away and never seen again. The village bombed. Men with machine guns killed men, women, and children indiscriminately.
Suddenly Asif was responsible for the safety and welfare of his family. Separated from his father; he now became separated from his village and friends as he took his mother and younger brother and sister across the mountains to the refugee camps in Pakistan. He struggles to earn enough to provide shelter, food, and education for his brother.
“Born in Afghanistan, Hatef Mokhtar, grew up in a refugee camp in Pakistan and is now … the Editor in Chief of the Oslo Times.” More intense than either The Kite Runner or A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini Mokhtar’s historical novel carries not only the history of the last thirty years of Afghanistan, but the cost to its people.
The rhythm of the words, phrases, and sentences carries the languages of the people into English. “I believe separation is the beginning of a long metaphysical chain of events that binds one spirit to another, connecting every corner of the world and reaching places we cannot see because they are beyond the reach of the living. We can only reach them when our imagination has taken over from where our breath has left us.”
This is a book that is written with tears and hope and the reader will read it the same way. This is not casual reading material. The reader will be researching for the whole story, but will actually get it all here, deeper than the facts. The use of passive voice is inconvenient at first, but becomes necessary to maintain emotional distance from Asif’s pain and anguish.
The following sites will provide support and statistics for Mohktar’s emotional and intellectual analysis of the cost of thirty years of war and separation written as historical fiction.
I received a .pdf copy of this book from Readers Favorite for my unbiased review.