Book Review: DOOSRA DOZAKH by Umera Ahmed


Doosra Dozakh (English: Second Hell) is the emotional story of Saman, a 20 year old girl, who’s been married for 2 years. Despite her best attempts to please her in-laws, they are ever so unhappy with her and continuously exploit her family for their financial gains. Unbeknown to her, they plot something heinous and the traumatic experience scars her forever.First published in Shuaa Digest, it is available as a companion story in Sahar Aik Ista’ara Hai.

Author Profile

Umera Ahmed is one of the most widely-read and popular Urdu fiction novelist and screenplay writer of this era.

She completed her Masters in English Literature from Murray College, Sialkot. Later she became an English language lecturer for the students of O and A levels at Army Public College, Sialkot. However she left the job a few years back in order to devote her full attention to writing.

She began her writing career in 1998 at a quite young age. Her initial stories were published in monthly urdu digests and later came out in the form of books. She has written about 16 books, comprising of complete novels and compilations of short stories. However it was her novel “Peer-e-Kaamil (S.A.W.W)” which became her identity.

Plot Summary

Doosra Dozakh is one of those stories that will punch you in the gut and make your insides curl with pain. The dark-sarcasm laced narrative works in favour of the short story, making every line worth quoting.

Doosra Dozakh is a ten pages long short story of Saman, a woman who writes a letter to Allah.

Saman narrates what she is feeling, and what she is thinking about. All of those ten pages are quotable, but I will list only two.

آگ کا عذاب صرف اللہ دے سکتا ہے . مجھے تو انسانوں نے آگ کا عذاب دیا ہے 

That line is so poignant. Burning the brides for lack of dowry is something that we have heard of and read about for ages. I had never once thought that apart from the worldly consequences, it also has a punishment in the hereafter. We the mere mortals do things that only Allah has the rights to do. In doing that, us humans are commiting shirk and kufr, ma’azallah.

This line also reminds me of “Jannat Ke Pattay”. One of the events in that novel also had a similar theme, when Haya was kidnapped. Just saying.

And, another one:

میرے جیسے بھائیوں کو موت آ جانی چاہیے جو بہنوں کو ٹرک بھر کر جہیز نہیں دے سکتے

The story is about dowry and how women are still being tortured for it. It is as real and painful as it can be. Having said that, a word of caution is in order: You will get depressed after reading it. It leaves such an impact.

My favorite line, that sends a wave of nostalgia is where Saman talks about making chain with glass bangles using a candle. Does anyone else remember doing that?

A short story with a lasting impact. Do read, but be prepared to be heartbroken.

I will meet you in another review.

Shabana Mukhtar