On her first holiday in six years, Rumi is expecting to relax and unwind. But when she is set up by her long-time friend, she doesn’t shy away from the possibilities. Ahad, a charming, independent, self-made man, captures her imagination, drawing her away from her disapproving sister, Juveria.
Faced with sizzling chemistry and a meeting of the minds, Ahad and Rumi find themselves deep in a relationship that moves forward with growing intensity. But as her desire for the self-assured Ahad grows, Rumi struggles with a decision that will impact the rest of her life.
Confronted by her scandalized sister, a forbidding uncle and a society that frowns on pre-marital intimacy, Rumi has to decide whether to shed her middle-class sensibilities, turning her back on her family, or return to her secluded existence as an unmarried woman in Pakistan.
We follow Rumi from rainy London to a sweltering Karachi, as she tries to take control of her own destiny.
London. Karachi : Ahad. Rumi. Yes, the locations instilled a primary interest in me to read this novella. I confess not having read a contemporary author from Pakistan yet, but I wanted to. Indireads and Natasha Ahmed created this beautiful opportunity for readers to grab a bit of upper middle class Karachi. It’s a first for me and I’m sure it would be the first for many Indian readers. Reading about desis living in the subcontinent as well as abroad is particularly interesting and not explored much yet in the subcontinent literature. This book seems to have done justice to that parlance.
The story begins in London with Rumi, a middle class thirtyish woman from Karachi visiting her family and friends for a vacation. She meets Ahad, a handsome publisher brought up in London and they hit it off instantly. They embark on a whirlwind romance for a few weeks – breaking a lot of norms and barriers. Rumi explores life like she never had one in Karachi. She does unimaginable things for herself, causing the wrath of her sister and family. The story, as much it is about Rumi’s liberation, it is also about Ahad’s return to his roots. A whiff of summer from Karachi, in the form of Rumi, sweeps him off his feet.
It is a simple enough plot if you look at it. We’ve read of casanovas losing themselves to a particular woman. We’ve also read of women in a conservative set up break all barriers and let themselves loose to lead a life of their own. What is different in Butterfly Season is Natasha Ahmed. I don’t know who she is, but she’s woven a story wonderfully blending the East and West, the rustic and the posh.
Her writing is splendid, Natasha Ahmed’s. Her words perfectly follow each other and create a beautiful ambiance. There isn’t a single misplaced word or sentence. Everything falls into place like a jigsaw puzzle. She has been bold in her portrayal of the characters, especially Rumi, which conforms her need to write in a pen name. Rumi liberates herself not only socially and morally, but also sexually and it’s a treat to read.
The book is delicious. Absolutely. I only wish Natasha Ahmed doesn’t turn out to be a one-book-wonder. May she write much more about desis and explore the world many of us are familiar of.
Recommended to every one. Catch a whiff of London’s chill and Karachi’s swelter in the same breath.
My Rating: 5/5
About the Author:
Natasha Ahmed is a pen name. In real life, Natasha is a graphic designer, a businesswoman and occasionally writes art and book reviews for publications within Pakistan. She created the pen name to avoid awkward questions of morality and religion (since her book advocates sexual freedom for women) from her close but extremely large family.
She works in a small office at home, not far from Sea View, Karachi. From a tiny window, she can see the Arabian Sea sparkling in the distance, and small fishing boats trawl up and down the water throughout the day. When she’s not writing books, she’s dreaming of setting sail towards the horizon and never looking back. Great adventure, she believes, starts with great daring.
Butterfly Season is her first novella, though not, she hopes, her last.
Language: English, Genre: Fiction/Romance
Author(s): Natasha Ahmed
Publisher: Indireads, Year Published: 2014 March
Binding: Ebook, Edition: First, Pages: 100
Reviewed for: Indireads