A Novel by Raashida Khan
Published by Kwarts Publishers
"The struggle you face today is developing the strength you need for tomorrow."
At first glance Mirror Cracked, which scooped the Minara Aziz Hassim Literary Award last year, did not seem as if it would capture my attention and interest long enough for me to complete it. However, to my utter amazement, once I began reading it, I could not put the book down. I needed to know what would happen next.
Raashida Khan managed to keep me hooked by basing her tale on controversial issues that are seen as being completely unacceptable and prohibited in the Muslim community. These so-called unacceptable acts or behaviour often occur, but no one is brave enough to admit them or even talk about them.
In the beginning of the book, Azraa and her family represent a normal Muslim family going about their usual daily activities. But as the story unravels we are introduced to an unsettling feeling and a mounting tension between Azraa and her husband Fareed – who is trying to find himself.
The tension continues to grow and Azraa believes the reason for this unsettling feeling between her and Fareed is simply because of their busy lifestyles, running their own companies and still trying to juggle their family life. Azraa believes the only way she can rekindle the spark of love between her and Fareed is to plan a romantic trip away. Little does she know that trip would end up having the opposite effect and lead her down the path to more pain and suffering.
The novel has three main themes – that of love, betrayal and hope. The unconditional love between a husband and wife, the love between a parent and child and the love between siblings. The betrayal refers to Fareed and his love for Zack, his male lover and cycling mentor. The theme of hope comes through in almost all stages of the book. The hope that their daughter will survive her illness and the hope that, by some miraculous power, Azraa can still save her marriage.
Personally, being brought up in an Islamic background, as well as always being taught to be strong and supportive when it comes to family, I could relate to Azraa who is the eldest daughter and always takes charge of everything that needs to be done. I could relate to the family dynamics, as the scenarios are common among most Muslim families.
However, the intriguing part of the novel for me was reading about the “controversial topics” of bisexual identity within a Muslim community and acting on it knowing that one is married. Khan is descriptive in her account of Fareed and Zack’s relationship, which is something that captured my attention.
As a reader, I needed to know whether the marriage between Azraa and Fareed would work out especially after Azraa had learnt that her husband of almost 20 years had feelings for another and whether or not Azraa would find the strength to get through the heartbreak and the thought that her marriage was over. All this, combined with the grief of losing her youngest daughter, was enough to keep me glued to the pages.
Mayet is an educator