About the Book
In 1971, as a civil war
rages in Pakistan, two girls are born in the city of Lahore; Nadira to a
Sunni family, and Hameeda to a Shia family. At age six, an outspoken,
lively Nadira and her beautiful, shy classmate, Hameeda, are drawn to each
other, and they become the closest of friends. In the beginning, their
religious differences mean very little. But as the years pass and their
society fragments, their lives and their relationship are torn apart by a
horrific, sectarian tragedy. Separated, they must experience their
sorrows, hardships and joys without the support and companionship they
once provided each other. Years later when fate brings them back together
again, they have to choose whether they will let the past keep them apart,
or reclaim their dreams and the friendship they once cherished.
Fear bound her tighter than the rope encircling her wrists and ankles; like a python’s coils it constricted her chest, and made each breath difficult. Her body was a constant reminder she was not trapped in some horrible dream, her cheeks pinched by the tape across her mouth, the inside of her throat dry and sore. Beads of sweat rolled down her forehead and left a maddening itch behind as they dripped off the tip of her nose onto the front of her kameez, darkening the fabric like blood from a wound. And if that was not reminder enough, there was the gunman right in front of her, all too real. Every time his eyes swept over her, she felt naked under his scrutiny. If only she could tunnel into her mind and hide in a snug burrow of her creation. But her discomfort fixed her in reality.
At first, she kept her head up, eyes staring straight ahead, the only show of defiance possible, but it forced her to look into the dark tunnel of an automatic weapon barrel which frightened her even more. She redirected her gaze downward, her view limited to her legs and feet, the roped extremities of her family who sat on either side of her and the floor. She noticed a worn spot near the edge of the antique, Bokhara rug and a gap in its white fringed border where several pieces of cotton warp had broken off just below the knot. Crumbs had escaped from someone’s plate during their afternoon tea and sullied the carpet’s surface, a reminder normality had existed just a short while ago. Time inched along at a sloth’s pace. In the absence of conversation, sounds amplified, the whir of the fan above her head, the distant clap, clap of leather sandals against stone, the squeal of wooden furniture being dragged across the floor, cupboard doors opening and closing, and the occasional bark of an order to the men scavenging in the other rooms of the house.
She considered their situation. Escape was impossible and the likelihood of rescue seemed remote. The walls that surrounded the house for protection and privacy provided the same advantages to the criminals who had breached them. In her helplessness, the only thing she could do was pray to Allah to keep them safe, each silent prayer slipping between her lips like prayer beads through her fingers. But, her petitions failed to push away the thought that fate had caught up with her and this was how her life would end.
As this sense of doom held her in its grasp and all hope fled, she struggled to conjure up pleasant memories to provide some comfort and instead was ambushed by her regrets. If only she could go back to the beginning, back to when anything was possible, back before her missteps had sacrificed the life she’d dreamed of and distanced people she loved.
Wow what a read this was. I surprised on how well I enjoyed reading this story. I thought this was educational as well. I learned a lot from reading this story.
The characters were very believable, well written. I felt like I was there with them in the book. The details were also well written it’s like you can escape into another world without going anywhere. A job well done.
Highly recommend to readers who love to read coming of age stories.
Musings of a Boomer Author
There are handicaps that come with being an older writer. For one thing, your brain is no longer as agile as it used to be. Words tease you. In the middle of writing a sentence you sometimes have to pause when the word you want stays tantalizingly out of reach. So, you leave a space or pick out a word that just doesn’t sound right, hoping when you reread the section later the word you wanted will come to you. But being an older author also comes with some benefits; a treasure trove of experiences and memories to mine, patience, perspective and realistic expectations.
As a member of the baby boomer generation, the process of publishing and marketing my book has been like negotiating a mine field. Years of acquired knowledge didn’t equip me for many publication tasks. There were new terms and acronyms to learn. Before publishing, I thought NBA related to basketball not “net book agreement,” and RRP sounded like the cry of a disturbed animal, not “recommended retail price.” I also had to learn how to construct and edit a website, and I puzzled over what social media options I felt comfortable diving into. Sometimes, it was a frustrating experience. Yet, I was determined to overcome the deficiencies of my age and come out on the other side triumphant, or at least not totally defeated.
Aside from lacking facility and intuition when it comes to technology and social media, there are other disadvantages of coming late to the game. There are people missing that not even a crack detective could unearth – quite literally in some cases. At long last, I’ve become a published author, a dream of mine from a young age. But, its realization brings with it an undercurrent of sadness because in one way this accomplishment came too late. Important people are absent, family members who helped get me to this place that are not here to share in my excitement and joy; my mother, who though physically present, is lost to dementia, my beloved father and my wonderful grandmother, both gone well before I started writing seriously. How I wish they could share in my accomplishment and read and react to my book. Even at an age when I think I am long past the need for approval from my elders, it seems that I’m not. But maybe these important people aren’t entirely absent. I realize that bits and pieces of them are present in my book’s characters or a piece of dialogue – a tribute to how they endure in my life.
Age does not always separate me from other authors. Somehow, the sum of years you have accumulated does not determine how insecure you become the minute your book is unveiled to the public. Just as with the much younger authors I know, I have the same doubts, worries and insecurities. We all question our ability as writers, are inordinately pleased when praised and despair when criticized. For after all, our book is a child of our creation, something we have often nurtured for many years.
Serendipitously, the November/December issue of Poets & Writers magazine I received a few weeks after my book was launched had an article entitled 5 Over 50. It was about authors over the age of 50 who published successful debut books in 2016. It confirmed what I already knew; it’s never too late to realize a dream.
February 27 – Nerdy Dirty & Flirty –
February 28 – Spunky
N Sassy – Excerpt
March 1 – Grass Monster – Review
March 2- A Page to Turn – Review & Excerpt
March 3- Books Dreams Life – Review,
Guest Post & Excerpt
March 6 – Book Lover in Florida – Review &
March 6 – Dandelions Inspired – Review
Susan Harrison Rashid was born in the United States and lived
an unremarkable life until she met and fell in love with a young man from
Pakistan. They were married in 1980 in Lahore, Pakistan. Annual visits to
Lahore and life as a member of a Pakistani family introduced her to a very
different culture and country. Always a reader, Ms. Rashid started writing
stories when she was ten years old but never imagined she could support herself
with her tales. Instead, she practiced law for twenty-four years before
retiring to follow her dream and begin her writing career. Beneath a Shooting
Star is her first novel.
Book Link : http://amzn.to/2lhOakd