From Sialkot to Lahore, Arif Ali makes the journey to realize his dream of being a history teacher. In Lahore, his life is upended by dramatic events unfolding in light of a General wielding far-right power after the ruthless assassination of a Prime Minister. As a teacher, he resists the decree to teach a false history, and as a poet, articulates his emotions on unrequited love and the turbulent political atmosphere.
Arif’s impotent rage towards the increasing religious intolerance around him compels him to join Kamal and Nadira in their cloak-and-dagger acts of resistance. And, while he presciently awaits the dreaded storm of sectarian violence to break, in the wake of the General’s legacy of a brutal military rule, he finds love that hitherto he could only imagine through Urdu poetry.
With Roohi by his side, Arif finds his muse, but watches with deep frustration the public floggings, persecution of minorities, and the societal divide created by increasing fundamentalism. When a student in his class is falsely accused of blasphemy, he decides to save him from being arrested and embarks on a dangerous mission that lands him in the middle of sectarian clashes. Will he succeed in saving the boy and making it out alive, to live the life he dreamt of as a history teacher in Lahore?
Tahira Naqvi recreates Lahore of the 1980s in this moving political novel, showing eloquently the struggle between a besieged democracy on the one hand and thriving cultural traditions of Urdu poetry on the other.