Review: Amar Bail by Umera Ahmed

Amar Bail by Umera Ahmed

A love story of Umar Jehangir and Aleezay Sikandar, set-up in the backdrop of Pakistani bureaucratic culture. It revolves around Umar Jehangir and Aleezay Sikandar. Two people both from broken bureaucrat families. Aleezay Sikandar who had her complexes, her desire in life to be loved and taken care of and Umar Jehangir, a character with multiple shades.

My rating: 5 stars

Amar Bail a love story between Umar Jehangir and Aleezay Sikandar, two broken souls from problematic families whose journeys are intertwined. Umar is the son of a corrupt bureaucrat who uses him for his own personal gain, tries to distant himself from his father by returning to Pakistan. However, there is only so much he can do, despite the control he tries to free himself. Aleezay is an only child from a broken home, forced to live with her maternal grandparents because her parent’s ‘new’ lives do not accommodate her for a long period.

I finished this last Friday and I have had a hard writing a review. There were avalanches of emotions throughout the book, emotions I still am unable to control or identify. There was also a lot to learn: how dirty politics can be, the lengths one goes through to save his own skin, how sometimes the only way to punish culprits is going against the law, and etc.

Umar is a complex character, there is no black and white, he resides in the morally grey area. There are times you want to wrap him and take him far away from the corrupt world, and others when you want to smack him silly. There is something so raw and realistic about him that despite the wrongs he committed one can’t help but still root for him.

Aleezay is a cinnamon roll, one that I’m positive everyone would want to protect. The poor girl craved for love – love she did not receive from her parents nor grandparents. They all assumed by gifting her with materialistic possessions, or calling once a month, the fulfilled their duties. Her grandparents raised her in a very closed off environment. Her whole life revolved around keeping everyone pleased; she couldn’t even think for herself – she’d always have someone’s influence in her mind.

Aleezay and Umar’s relationship was beautifully written. Aleezay’s jealousy towards Umar, Umar not letting her jealousy get in the way of their friendship, Umar helping Aleezay become her own person, Umar making talking Nano (grandmother) out of getting Aleezay married at the tender age of 17, Umar sacrificing a life they could have together (because he believes he would not have made her happy), just everything is beautifully shown. I love the woman Aleezay became with Umar’s guidance. I just wished he believed more in himself and actually gave them a chance. His fear that marriage would destroy them did not spout out of the blue, and unfortunately his fear never diminished.

What’s really heart-breaking was finding out Umar repeatedly told his friend, Junaid, that he had to marry Aleezay…well more like convinced him to meet her with the prospect of marriage. Junaid was the best man he knew and he wanted Aleezay to have the best, even if it wasn’t with him. Also, even though there were moments which lead me to believe he loves Aleezay he never outright said so. We find out at the end that he did in fact love Aleezay.

Despite my love for Umar, I still fell in love with Junaid. He truly is a great guy, and his family is also amazing. Aleezay finally received the love she had been craving for through his family and him. And, despite everything Umar did do right by her. She was likely not going to marry into such a family had it not been for Umar.

I’m not even sure what I wrote, I still have a lot of incoherent thoughts left.

PS. I read the English translation of this. I am honestly grateful that Umera had it translated.

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