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“Roop Behroop” by Kokab Khwaja

Book Title: Roop Behroop

Author: Kokab Khwaja

Genre: Fiction, Afsana (Short Stories)

Rating: 5/5

“Roop Behroop” by Kokab Khwaja is a collection of Afsanas (short stories/tales, I do not know the right word for it in English) and is one of the three books by Ma’am Khwaja that I received as a gift from the team of Kitaab Nama. Before reading her Afsana’s (short stories), I only knew her as a cooking expert as I have grown up watching her cooking shows, however, after reading these stories, I have come to know that she is not just a cooking expert but is a great writer who had penned down the most beautiful, inspiring, didactic, and progressive stories. The stories, as mentioned on the book cover are inspired by the real-life societal issues of Pakistani society. Hence, in my opinion, these short stories are more like a social commentary on our society. This book is not directed to a specific audience rather it is for all genders, relationships, and generations.

I loved all the short stories in this book but if I have to name a few I truly liked then, I would say, “Wakt Kitna Zalim, Kitna Meherban,” which talked about the pressures society puts on parents if they don’t have a son, “Adhori Aurat,” that talked about how detrimental domestic violence can be to the personality of children who witness it at their homes where it is normalized and glorified, and can manifest itself in the worst forms, “Apni Chatt,” that focused on the struggles and sacrifices of a mother to see her family under a house of their own,  “Meri Kahani Meray Kalam ki Zabani,” talked about the fact that blood is not always thicker than water; sometimes it is the people who are not the blood relations that are more close to us than our own flesh and blood. “Tota Maina,” was a beautiful story of love and respect between husband and wife, “Snowman,” talked about the importance of intimacy in a marriage and how its absence can lead to bigger problems, and “Qurbani,” was about expectations of society from a woman especially the one who is always judged and scrutinized by the society for adopting less conventional ways of bringing up her children.

These short stories covered all sorts of topics from our daily lives including love, sacrifice, societal pressures, and domestic violence, and how they shape the minds of those who suffer from it. The book also touched upon the topics of the love of mother, daughter, husband, and wife. It was a great read. This book is one of the few books I have read in Urdu language and the writer has written it in simple and easy language that made the reading more interesting and enjoyable. There was one thing that I found very strange and interesting at the same time, that is, most of the stories had a main character named Rani. I have a feeling that the writer really likes this name.

In my opinion, this book deserves five stars. We need more writers like Ma’am Khwaja whose stories reflect progressive thinking, open-mindedness, and didacticism. These types of stories, in my opinion, are a healthy contribution towards the betterment of our society because they bring our attention to issues that are not addressed and are normalized in our society.