A Journey Into Light

  • Zahid Fayaz
  • Publish Date: Apr 4 2017 10:23PM
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  • Updated Date: Apr 4 2017 10:23PM
A Journey Into Light

Peer-e-Kamil is a feel-good story about faith, love, devotion, suffering and salvation

 
Broadly, there are two classes of novel. One just narrates stories, the other narrates meaningful stories. Stories that impact our lives. Peer-e-Kamil by Umera Ahmad belongs to the latter.

The story revolves around two Pakistanis, Imama Hashim and Salaar Sikandar. Imama, whose conversion to Islam invites all sorts of ordeals, wants to marry Dr Ansar Jalal because he loves the prophet more than anyone else and sings naat soulfully. It doesn't quite work out, though, as Ansar isn't the person she thought he was.

Salaar is Imama's neighbour. A smart, intelligent boy overcome by drug addiction. He had once attempted suicide, but not because he wanted to die. He wanted to “enjoy” the thrill of death. He wanted to find out, as he put it, what lay beyond ecstasy?

Imama hates the sight of Salaar. But fate has other plans for them. Being pressured to renounce her faith, Imama desperately wants to get out of her house. She seeks the help, of all people, Salaar. The plan is that he will ask for her hand in marriage and after a time, when things have settled down, divorce her. Salaar agreed to the proposal not out of sympathy for Imama, but because he saw another adventure in it.

Then, Salaar goes off to the US for higher studies. There, he's preoccupied with the questions that had driven him to suicide – what is ecstasy? what is pain? what is nothingness? what is hell? The struggle for answers leads him down the path of spiritual awakening. A consequence of this is that he starts to fall in love with Imama for she reflects the person he seeks to be now, one who suffers great pain for the sake of her belief, for the love of Peer-e-Kamil, peace be upon him.

Turns out, as a plot twist, that Salaar hadn't divorced Imama before he went to the US. She had called him once, years ago, to ask about it, but Salaar had declined to do it. The call had dropped mid-talk and they had never spoken again.

Imama had since shifted to Lahore, where she was taken in by a kind family. She had also changed her name to Amina to escape her family. Sometime later, Salaar too returns to Pakistan, only to be occupied by the thought of Imama. He blames himself for being partly responsible for her miseries. Thus pass eight years.

Imama completes her studies and finds a job. The family that had adopted her in Lahore presses her for marriage, but she keeps resisting since she is still technically married to Salaar. She tries getting in touch with him. She calls his phone, but it's his father who picks up. Since his family had also suffered due to this “adventure” of Salaar with Imama, she was told he had died some years back. Salaar, of course, doesn't know about this.

Eventually, Salaar shifts to Lahore, where he starts attending the religious lectures of Dr Sibt Ali. It so happens that Dr Sibt Ali's is the family that had adopted Imama. He takes Sibt Ali as his guide.

Imama, now Amina, can resist the pressure to get married only so much. So, her marriage is fixed. But on the day of the wedding, it becomes known that the groom had eloped with some other woman. Then, Sibt Ali requests Salaar to marry Amina. This leaves Salaar torn between his love for Imama and the loyalty to his spiritual guide. In the end, though, he agrees to marry Amina.

Cue pleasant surprises, sentimental back-story telling, a good dose of tears, and it is, as they say, happily ever after.

Peer-e-Kamil is essentially the story of two persons' conflicted but shared journey to spiritual awakening, love and devotion.