Epitome of indomitable courage: Dr Farah Naqvi's novel The Light In Blackout
The word 'Blackout' itself transports a person into a thick stream of darkness and Dr Farah Naqvi's novel 'The Light In Blackout' derives the message that every dark tunnel has refulgence at its other end. It brings sparkle for its readers with the consummate delineation of the chief protagonist, Alizah. Life can be full of pleasant and unpleasant surprises and sometimes there is no escape from the circumstances. Alizah symbolises the indomitable spirit and unflagging resilience. The readers develop a strong string of affinity with her as, like our day to day life, her story is all about confronting such an adverse situation with enormous grit, unflinching courage and steely determination.
Weaved with dollops of emotions and dialogues, this book certainly touches the deepest chord of the readers' heart.
In this patriarchal society, a woman has no freedom to exercise her own volition in matters about her life. She is often subjected to diabolical subjugation. And if a certain kind of complexity is added to her already miserable life, her struggle becomes all the more intense. Though Alizah hails from a well-educated family with rationality and values, she has to bear the brunt and go through ordeal throughout her life. Initially, the readers placidly get to know that a bubbly, enthusiastic child Alizah is growing up along with her brother Arish and elder sister Amna. Her parents are fully focused on providing better education to their children and do not discriminate the daughters in any manner. Alizah is an ultra-sensitive child who has her dreams and aspirations in her twinkling eyes.
However, her life receives a shattering blow in the form of a blackout at the age of 14. This blackout seizure which at a later stage is diagnosed as 'epilepsy', cripples her life and clips her wings. This is the catalytic moment in novel and situations demands Invocation to Thomas Hardy who remarks that man is a mere pawn in the cruel hands of destiny. With its intriguing quirk, destiny can dispose of the design of man and smother all hopes. Constantly constant fear begins to lurk over the mindscape of Alizah, and a sense of alienation overwhelms her. The bubbly girl now turns introvert and timid like some of the vulnerable characters of Dickens, Bronte sisters and Hardy. The analogy can be appositely drawn between Luisa the female character in Hard times by Charles Dickens as Alizah reminds us of Dickens' female character. But unlike Luisa, hope arrives back in Alizah's life with the ceaseless propping by her parents. The family certainly acts as a support system. Another burning issue that book draws our attention to is social stigmatisation associated with such ailments. Alizah, who personifies charms and talent is on the verge of losing self-confidence because of a disease, which is controllable.
Dr Naqvi has forte to build up the engaging plot. She has beautifully incorporated many twists and turns in the story to bring out Alizah as a strong character with colossal strength and stupendous grit. The issues of eve-teasing and period-talk with her brother makes the reader understand the difficulties women have to encounter during their day to day life. Alizah defies all odds to conquer and realize her dreams with the unstinting support of her family, friends, and doctor. However, the phantom of insecurities never disappears. So much so that when it comes to the matters of heart, she strangulates her feelings towards Sahil, who is not only enchanted with her exterior beauty but loves her with fathomless profundity. She finds herself handicapped to be in a committed relationship and buries all her emotions under the blanket of friendship.
The author has developed each character with precise detailing. Meera, Alizah's best friend has her part of the story. Her character adds a dimension of compassion to Alizah. The sibling relationship is also treated with sensitivity, given the fact the main protagonist suffers from a serious medical condition. The author has recreated the scenes of Alizah's journey from childhood to Management studies and later on her professional life through vivid imagery and pictorial quality. She deftly uses the technique of flashback to keep the readers hooked on and the curiosity is maintained throughout the book. The vulnerability of the protagonist is depicted during the episodes of her seizure and its after-effects leave her with an impressionable fear and incompleteness.
The book successfully generates awareness about the disease of epilepsy and in one chapter the author has mentioned the list of names of successful personalities who suffered from this medical condition. The narrative of the book is lucid, and the flow is smooth. Even though the story goes back and forth with flashbacks, it never leaves the track. The language is simple yet charms the reader with heart touching dialogues. The tiny snippets which Alizah writes in her diary carry capsules of wisdom.
"When the disease is known but not the cure,
Use prayers as a balm for your wounded soul
When you have fitted all the pieces together
Still, it doesn't make it a whole
Kneel to pray and heal your soul"
These words lend an insight into the mind of the sufferer, at the same time raise hope in the form of prayer. 'The Light In Blackout' is an inspirational story with a message of selfless love, trust, and hope. A beautiful book which reflects the beautiful soul of the author.