Title: The Wandering Falcon
Author: Jamil Ahmad
Publisher: Hamish Hamilton
PP: 180 pages
Genre: Literary Fiction
Price: Rs. 399
There are boundaries between countries and maybe the boundaries exist for a reason, or do they? This question haunted me long after reading the book. There are very few books like these that leave you with lingering thoughts. Thoughts that do not seem to stop. I am often disturbed when I read about territorial issues and added to that communal violence topped with “whose land is this”? kind of sentiment. And somehow you cannot be a judge of anything that is happening in places that you are not a part of. That you have witnessed or felt. We in all probability have no right to.
So back to the book. What is it about?
It is about a boy, known as Tor Baz, the black falcon, and to put it the way I read it, he is a wanderer. The story is set before the Taliban regime, in the forbidden areas where the borders of Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan meet. Tor Baz wanders between tribes and meets different men and women. Men who have only battles and wars on their minds and women who are shunted away in the name of honour. And in these encounters, he tries to make sense of everything else in between.
The tribes and the tribal race are almost extinct now. I do not know if anyone ever mentions them as well these days – even in our own country, where they exist only probably as a heritage symbol. What I loved most about the book was of course the writing and that goes without saying, however the vast canvas on which it was written – the territories unexplored, you can almost feel the heat on your back as you read the book.
The Wandering Falcon is one of those books that take you by surprise. It isn’t about the age of the author; after all writing has no age limit, isn’t it? It is the simplicity of the storyline that will keep you glued to the book. He charts the lives of the tribals who live in inhospitable conditions and often misunderstood. Jamil Ahmad also lived with the tribes and their people to understand them better and that is what struck me the most while reading the book – as all the vividness and clarity in the writing made perfect sense.
The Wandering Falcon is a book that touches on various emotions – loyalty, camaraderie, family, clan togetherness, graciousness, forgiveness and the feeling of being in a tribe. Through Tor Baz, the reader sees and experiences it all – I would highly recommend this short and fine piece of fiction. It is definitely worth a read and a re-read.