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“Makli” – Nazia Kamran Kashif

by Farzeen Mughal

Book Title: Makli
Writer: Nazia Kamran Kashif
Genre: Horror, Fantasy, Mystery
Rating: 4/5

Makli by Nazia Kamran Kashif is an Urdu novel that belongs to the genre of horror and fantasy as it involves a lot of supernatural elements and paranormal activities. The story is mainly set in Kirthar, a mountainous range in the province of Sindh. However, it also takes the readers to Makli, a 400-year-old graveyard that is also a tourist attraction in the Sindh province of Pakistan. The book revolves around a bunch of characters from different countries. The first character that is introduced to the readers in this book is the character of Ahmed who is a high-ranking police officer living with his wife and is posted to Kirthar in order to investigate the mysterious deaths of the local people who are being attacked in a gruesomely violent manner by some unknown creature or animal while their dead bodies are being found in mutilated condition in Kirthar Park. The second character introduced in the story is Will, a British national and a painter who lives in London and has his father and best friend Mark as his only closest companions. All his life, he has been haunted by nightmares in which a woman appears with her face half covered in a black shawl while he gets attacked by frightening monstrous creatures in a place completely unknown to him. His canvases are filled with paintings of that mysterious place but one day when he attempts to paint the picture of the woman, who appears in his dreams, he starts seeing and hearing strange things and voices. When things start getting worst and his father gets attacked by a monstrous being, Will is told to go to Pakistan to unlock the mystery attached to his dreams.

The next important character is Aharoon, an Italian national living in Egypt where he is an archeologist and teacher at the University of Egypt. He along with his friend Akil is searching for some ancient treasure in the graves of Egypt and one day he finds a clue in the form of a ring with a map in it while shopping in a local shop in Egypt. Since that day, Aharoon starts having nightmares and is attacked by a scary-looking monster who calls himself Asmar Aout/ Awat (I don’t know the exact pronunciation). To end it all, he decides to go to Pakistan where he believes he can find the answers to these strange happenings. Another main character of the story is Daniel who lives in Africa and is a brave and fierce lion hunter. He works at an organization called “Lion Hunters” that hunts lions for a living. Daniel has hunted countless lions in the forest of Congo where he resides, however, one night when he is on the hunting spree he sees a girl with her face half-covered with a black shawl and is attacked by a monstrous creature. From there on he too starts experiencing supernatural stuff that starts disturbing him. Soon his organization is contacted by the Pakistani government who needs their help to get rid of a wild ferocious lion that is attacking and jeopardizing the lives of their local people. The only way for all these characters to find answers to the mysterious things happening to them is to go to Pakistan where the Makli graveyard holds the key to their unanswered questions. 

I must say that I truly loved and enjoyed reading this book. I haven’t read an Urdu book for ages and reading Makli was an awesome experience. In fact, reading this book only made me realize how much I’ve missed reading Urdu books all this time. I came to know about this book through a book reading group on Facebook while I was surfing it to find suggestions for good horror novels. The moment I got to know about this writer and this novel, I resolved that I will get my hands on it as soon as I can and I am glad I received a signed copy of the book.

I must appreciate the writer for building such a nice story. Although, the story was meant to be a horror one, however, after years of watching horror movies and shows, I feel horror has stopped affecting me. Except for a few occasions in the story, I was not scared while reading it; nonetheless, I thoroughly enjoyed the story. The ghol and Asmar Aout/ Awat (whatever the name is :p) may have been painted to evoke fear among the readers but the description did not scare me. Yet, I loved Kashif’s writing style which kept me hooked to the book from the beginning till the very end. The blend of mystery with archeology was very interesting. I had no idea about the existence of Makli graveyard before reading this novel. That’s quite shameful because I am originally from Sindh. Also, I appreciate Kashif for creating a positive image of Pakistan in her books though at some points it seemed a little exaggerated. However, I believe a little exaggeration does not hurt anyone. I wish this book is translated into English because I have a feeling that not only Pakistanis but people from other nationalities can also enjoy this book. The only thing I would request Kashif to focus her attention on is to contact her editor regarding a few minor mistakes. For example, George’s name was misprinted as James’ multiple times which got a little confusing. Also, I found a couple of spelling mistakes. Apart from that, this book deserves a five-star, yet I am giving it a four-star rating to keep it fair. Thank you, Nazia Kamran Kashif for writing this awesome piece. It is a must-read novel and highly recommended from my side.