Status: Read from Nov 22 to Nov 25, 2017
My rating: /5
Author: Jamil Ahmad
The Wandering Falcon is the unforgettable story of a boy known as Tor Baz – the black falcon – who wanders between tribes in the remote tribal areas where Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan meet, defying his fate and surviving against all odds. The world he inhabits if fragile and unforgiving, one that is fast changing as it confronts modernity. In Jamil Ahmad’s award-winning debut, this highly traditional, honour-bound culture is revealed from the inside for the first time with vivid colour and imagination.
Jamil Ahmad is known as a gifted story teller and excellent writer. The story began with a good start, giving the vivid picture of the hardships at the deserts of Afghanistan. I wanted the story to follow the path of this young child Tor-Baz, who was born on an unfamiliar land among the strangers. His parents were stoned to death to disobey and dishonor the norms of the tribe and the boy was left orphaned. He grows up as an nomad in the unforgiving lands with harsh climate, rough terrain and brutal justice reigns. Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran have no defying border line and nomads are free to move from one country to the other with change in climate with their life stocks. But recently, the government officials have enforced fixed boundaries.
After being passed from one ‘caregiver’ to another, Tor-Baz grows up as an nomadic wanderer moving across the deserts crossing the boundaries of these countries. The story continues, till Tor-Baz decides that it’s time for him to marry and settle down with a family.
There was as such no character development in the book or any specific event to highlight in the life of Tor-Baz. The story isn’t magical or haunting but rather simple.
This book gives a good insight into the customs and traditions of tribes. The plus points about the book was the picturesque description of the desserts of Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan and glimpse to the hardship of the nomadic life of people in these countries.
About the Author:
Jamil Ahmad was one of the few English writers of Pakistani origin to have garnered attention outside his country. Though his body of work was small and limited to one book, the Wandering Falcon and a short story, The Sins of the Mother, he is considered as a major writer among Pakistani writers of English fiction.
Jamil Ahmad was born in Punjab, in the erstwhile undivided India, in 1931. After early education in Lahore, he joined the civil service in 1954,and worked in the Swat valley, a remote Hindu Kush area, near Afghan border. During his career, he worked at various remote areas such as the Frontier Province, Quetta, Chaghi, Khyber and Malakand. He served for two decades among the nomadic tribes who inhabit one of the world’s harshest and most geopolitically sensitive regions. With his mesmerizing and lyrical tales, Ahmad illuminated the tribes’ fascinating attitudes and taboos, their ancient customs and traditions, and their fiercely held codes of honor. He also served as the a minister at the Paksitani embassy in Kabul during the Sovient invasion of Afghanistan in 1979.
He married Helga whom he met during his London years, who was critical of his early attempts at poetry but diligently tried to promote his work. She painstakingly typed his handwritten manuscript on a typewriter with German keys. The Wandering Falcon, published when he was 79, was nominated for Man Asian Prize in 2011. He lived in Islamabad, Pakistan at the time of his death in July, 2014.