I have chosen the book of a man who is the greatest of all writers. I knew I couldn’t describe this book in a few words but I couldn’t find a better author for writing a review. So I thought I should dip my toes into it. Usually, book reviews start with an introduction to the author, but my words are not enough to praise his work of art. I bet he’s better than Shakespeare and some sort of other great philosophers. His keen desire to know about the universal truth is exceptionally deep. You cannot acknowledge his work until and unless you have a strong knowledge of Islam, spirituality, Hindu scripture and Plato’s philosophical theories.
I used to spend a part of each day finding the desired book to read, and then I took down whatever book my heart lighted upon, so I got what I was searching for years. The first four lines of this book perfectly describe my situation right now.
“ the most difficult part of writing is to know where to begin just as the most difficult part of speaking to know where to stop. Nothing is more irritating than a blank sheet of paper staring stupidly into your face when you’re bursting to write but cannot make up your mind how to set about it.”
I can completely relate to it, the only difference is he was staring at the blank sheet of paper whereas I have a blank screen in front of me and this shows his wonderful piece of literature i.e universal. He wrote in 1958 and me writing a review of it in 2020, from a blank paper to a blank screen, the theory of evolution I guess.
Now let’s talk about this book, it explains culture, customs, traditions, norms and laws of one particular cast i.e THE PATHANS. He depicts the whole of it so elegantly into three words “the most complicated simplicity.” This book has 10 chapters, through them you’d feel like driving along the road of Pukhton culture. It’s not history-based, it has one chapter on history which denies all the myths about Pukhton being a jew because they say he is one of the lost tribes. Abdul Ghani khan rather believes that Pathan is a mixture of every race i.e the Persian, the Greek, the Mongol and the Turk. Further, he throws light on their folk songs, customs, their blind faith in magic and priests and their nature of taking ‘REVENGE’, which is considered as a tragic flaw of Pathan. In another chapter he talks about politics of buttons through a detailed account of Bacha Khan where he says:
“I have given you rather a long sketch of Badshah Khan because he really is the politics of the Pathan. He understands the Pathans and the Pathans understand him and you cannot understand either unless you are a Pathan.”
Bacha khan was the father of Abdul Ghani Khan, he was the most significant figure among Pukhtoons of that time, who was and even today considered as the ‘GHADDAR’ (traitor) by the people of Pakistan. They say he was against the creation of Pakistan but why he was opposing this idea of separate land for Muslims, no one will give a promising answer or logic because we are a nation that believes in hearsay.
It is a book which one could recommend to other patients, people who like to know this culture. He has perfectly mould all the traits of a Pathan in some terrific lines where he says :
“I found my blood warmer than my brain, and customs harder to break than hearts, and ideals harder to live up to than life.”
“His violent nature, strong body and tender heart make a very unstable combination for a living but an ideal one for poetry and colour.”
“He has great ambition and no patience; that is why he usually dies rather young. He has a great heart and a thick head; that is why he makes a charming friend and a fine host.”
Being a subject of this ethnicity, these lines have made me proud and at the same time brought tears into my eyes because I’ve seen this world full of so-called ‘Perfectionists’ mocks them for their thick head and vain heart. Ghani khan not only exhibits Pashtoon culture but he also unfolds his philosophical views about life, his love for his people. He made you feel empathetic towards his people through this book. If you want to live his culture this is a book for, a ‘MASTERPIECE.’ As in the last chapter “Conclusion”, he says
“I am prejudiced in favour of my people”.
I agree with him in this regard as I think everyone should be prejudiced in favour of their people, country and religion. Since it’s the only way you can keep your culture alive. Right at the end of the book one of his lines reminds me of an incident from history when he says: “however dirty and coarse his hand he will stretch it to a king for a hand-shake.” The greatest virtue of his is boldness and courage which reminds me of an event when Daod khan (during his presidency) had invited Malang Jan to a dinner of a delegation from Pakistan. An advisor of the president told Malang Jan to mention “Pukhtonistan” in his poetry as a diplomatic courtesy. Yet Malang Jan recited a poem named “sorpezwanmayadawa” in which he says, someone whispered in my ear not to mention the name of your Janan (beloved). Malang Jan meant Pushtonistan by Janan, the whole poem is a strong political statement such as – if you bring handcuffs I will kiss them first and put them on, which means if raising voice for the rights of Pukhtons would get me arrested I would accept that happily.
The chief reason why I love him because he would not mind paying the price of his bravery.
Review by: AMNA KHAN