Effat Sehar Tahir was recommended to me by an avid reader of contemporary women’s literature in Urdu.
The novel starts off with familiarity, drawing up the everyday events of a house with upcoming wedding that instantly allows the reader to feel included into the close knit family.
The next-door-neighbour characteristics of all the characters however, fall under the stereotypical typecast of characters that refuse to expand beyond the realm assigned to them to wander despite having potential to break the barriers of stereotypical story telling.
The story of the novel constantly falters despite a strong foundation with the author’s refusal to allow them to be liberated and keeping them confined in a box of norms. While the traditional thoughts of the characters are often justified, many characters toe the line by imposing and being submissive towards emotional and toxic relationships. Tahir’s use of conflict in developing the story’s arc falls flat at many instances because of the above reasons.
Tahir uses a loose prose structure to deliver the thoughts of her characters and form the rigidness of societal values of the a Pakistani city. This allows the reader to readily immerse themselves into the world of three different pairings and live alongside them.
Despite all, Mohabbat Dil Pe Dastak remains a page-turning read. It indulges in sexist expectations and furthers the misogynistic approaches of its male characters by glamorising the efforts of a woman to provide themselves as foundation for a strong companionship by sacrificing on their own wishes.
I would recommend the novel to romance lovers. It serves the purpose of being a guilty pleasure however I do hope that writers with leisure to pen stories, use there privilege to provide the readers with empowering characters rather then preaching compromises as a way to attain fairy-tale love story of there own.
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