The Blind Man’s Garden by Nadeem Aslam
Who needs films when writers like Nadeem Aslam can create such eloquent canvases that no celluloid could ever hope to project? Blind Man’s Garden takes you deep into the tragic ‘war on terror’ and shows you the very lives of the individuals who must live through (or not) the shattering decisions of faraway leaders, governments, and regimes.
Mikal and Jeo grow up as brothers in a small town in Pakistan – Jeo is the son of former schoolmaster Rohan who takes in Mikal and his older brother Basie when they lose their own parents. When Jeo, training to be a doctor, secretly decides to go to Afghanistan in hopes of caring for the human collateral damage from the post-9/11 U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, Mikal immediately decides to join him.
Both young men leave behind their shared family, including the same beloved, Naheed – she who loved Mikal first, but married Jeo at last. The brothers embark on a Odyssean journey to nowhere fueled by a fierce hope to return home. With all their fates unknown, Naheed mourns and waits, her mother Tara desperately fights what she believes is inevitable, and Rohan attempts to save another man’s young boy as he was unable to save his late wife from eternal damnation. The family, splintered by ideologies and violence gone awry, will never be the same again … and yet somehow, a much-transformed new family will inevitably survive …
In spite of needing to finish Aslam’s fourth and latest novel because of a looming interview deadline (I know, lucky me!), I lost all my usual reading alacrity as I approached book’s end, so as to avoid actually reaching that final page. Now as I ready myself for the authorly exchange, I’m bereft that that preparation cost me any lingering comfort of knowing I still had more Aslam to read. Alas, I must settle into waiting mode for his next novel; and patience was never, ever my virtue.