Book Review: Khuda Ki Basti (By Shaukat Siddiqui)

Non-review Rant

I read about 30 stories over the weekend, mostly urdu. This was one of the longer reads.

Plot Summary

Characters

Raziya Begum,  a widow lives with her three kids – Sultana, Nosha and Annu. Her eldest daughter has passed away, who was married to Neyaz .

Nosha, Shami and Raja are three teenage ‘poor’ boys. Raja works with a beggar, Nosha works at a workshop and Shami sits on his father’s shop.  The three of them do everything from stealing to puncturing tyres to earn a rupee or two. At their age, they drink, they gamble and visit brothels. Really?

Neyaz is a scrap dealer primarily dealing with stolen goods. He eyes Nosha’s sister Sultana, who is also his deceased wife’s sister. Raziya is smart enough to sense his interest. Neyaz and Raziya also get involved with each other. Really, despite knowing what plans the other has?

Kale Sahab is an insurance agent, relentlessly working to make new clients for his commission.
Doctor Motu who doesn’t hesitate to help Neyaz kill his future wife for insurance claim. Forming an alliance with Kale and Motu, Neyaz buys an insurance and marries Raziya.
Salman is a student, who is disowned by his family and is now addicted to gambling and alcohol and starts selling his belongings to Neyaz.

Heartbroken by the constant beating and insults, the three friends run away but Shami returns. Raja and Nosha are brought to Shah ji and after a theft and police case, eventually end up in jail.
The story spirals and spins new subplots, introducing new characters; some good and some evil. Mostly evil.

Safdar Basheer, a wealthy man with some good intent, forms a new organization Falak Paima for social services – adult education, health, cleaning etc. Salman associated with it, working for them. Doctor Zaidi and Ali Ahmed (two nice souls) also join the organization.

Shit Happens

Falak Paima sounded like the ray of hope in the otherwise messed up world filled with messed up people. However, soon, they get drawn to the temptation of politics and Safdar suddenly turns into an evil, drinking, careless man. Falak Paima and its journey highlights the issues related to election and awful tactics that are deployed to win the election. It results in Safdar’s death and many Skylarks (Falak Paima workers) end up in jail.

Raziya succumbs to the poisons being injected in her body and passes away. Despite her attempts of securing Sultana’s future, she leaves her kids alone and at the mercy of Neyaz.

Nosha is released from jail and becomes part of a gang of pick-pocketers lead by Pedro. Raja was released from jail because he was sick and now working as a beggar at the railway station. Nosha wants to gather money for his treatment and tries to hide some money from Pedro. He is beaten up and kicked out.

Annu is kicked out of the house and runs into Nauroz, a child molester. After suffering for a few weeks, he runs away, only to end up with eunuchs and becoming one of them.  Sultana gives birth to Neyaz’s child, out of the noble union, of course.

Salman returns home, gets married and his wife gets involved with his boss, adding more torture to the already grave story. The story continues, shit happens to all the characters from rape to murder to what not. When Nosha meets Sultana and finds out the truth, he kills Neyaz and ends up in jail, again.

As if Sultana had not had enough troubles in life, the so-called relatives of Neyaz rape her. Her butler takes her home, but his wife does not have a big heart. Sultana meets a few people and eventually ends up at the headquarters of Falak Paima, marrying Ali Ahmed.

The story stops just as abruptly as it leaves the other subplots in the middle. I was disappointed and relieved at the same time when it ended.

Review

Favourite Quote

I just don’t get it.

I mean, these kids, most of them, were young – about sixteen years of age. How and when did they start drinking, gambling and visiting heera mandi?

None of the characters had a good fate. Really? I am not saying that everything should be glorious and happy in a story, but is real world filled with no kind soul? Shit happens, left, right and center. All characters act terribly and meet with a terrible end.

This story is an amalgamation of EVERYTHING EVIL that can happen in the world. Rape (obviously), Laundebaazi (repeated theme throughout the story), theft (a norm with most characters), incest, exploiting in the name of religion, riots, shit behind politics and election, the awful lives of those in jail, extra-marital affairs, effects of bad company on women (cuz all women do is shop, watch movies, and waste money)

Why?

The story starts with greed and ends with death, for most of the characters.

Just Some Thoughts

By the way, I notice some similarities with other characters. Shoka in Ranjha Ranjha Kar Di, for instance, was totally based on Neyaz. Kashif Zubair’s Raja (in Raja and Jaleel series) is loosely based on Shami, who gets beaten by his father every now and again. This is just my feeling. I don’t have any proof of reference.

Shabana Mukhtar


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