It’s the 1970′s in Jalalabad, an erstwhile princely state in Pakistan. Chandni is a self-proclaimed cynic and prefers to be called C. An orphan brought up by her domineering grandmother, a.k.a. The Broad, C is rebellious, quick-witted and stunningly beautiful.
When Taimur, a.k.a. Alpha Male, enters the closed universe of the haveli, he is smitten, but he’ll never admit it.
The stakes get higher when the father, who had so cruelly abandoned her at birth, returns and C’s dream of reuniting with him becomes a reality. But now she has to choose between her father and his hand-picked groom on the one side, and Alpha Male and The Broad on the other.
What comes to mind with a setting of 1971, nawabs and haveli? Iridescent chandeliers, flowing gharara, shimmering dupattas, tinkling bangles, and an intense, magnetic hero, each of these things came alive for me from the first page when ‘C’ starts to pour tea under the watchful eyes of ‘The Broad’.
Intrigued? Well…it’s a must read.
Chandni, our well-read protagonist, is an innocent girl abandoned by her father, who tries to handle life on her own terms. But is she able to understand the wicked ways of the world? Taimur, handsome and emancipated, complements Chandni’s innocence with his intelligence so well that it is beyond words.
Zeenat Mahal has managed to capture the essence of all the characters magnificently and I so loved Bi Amma and her affection (read helplessness) with Chandni. The story is utterly engrossing right from Chandni’s habit of re-christening every thought and everyone who went against her to ‘kalank ka tika’ (hilarious) to the twist at the end.
I read the story once, then read it again the same day, this time slowly savoring the sparring between C and Alpha Male, which is humorous yet poignant and romantic. And would read it again when I want to read a heart touching romance, where the settings move like a movie in front of my eyes and characters giving their Oscar performances.
Highly recommended for all romance lovers!
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About the Author:
Zeenat Mahal (@zeenat_mahal) is an avid reader and has been writing for as long as she can remember. She has an MPhil in English literature from Government College Lahore and is currently doing an MFA in creative writing from Kingston University, London. She won a BBC short story competition in 2001 and has been a regular contributor to newspapers.
Running out of Ink, another international online magazine has published her short story, The Accidental Fiancee in their August 2013 issue
‘Haveli’ and ‘The Contract’ are Zeenat’s first two published novellas. Currently she is working on a novel. She can be contacted on her FBpage