‘I write because I need you to know what I cannot say. I write about the past, about family, about country, because they all speak to me about my father…’
Addressed to Hyder, his son, Omar Zafarullah’s A Hundred Journeys is part memoir and part manual for living. With the help of his family’s personal history, the author attempts to explain Pakistan to Hyder, a narrative which is intensely personal but deeply political too.
The journey begins in the early 1900s when the family migrates from Ropar (in India’s Punjab) to Gojra (in Pakistan’s Punjab) in search of a better future.
The book is filled with inspiring characters—Zafarullah’s great-grandmother, Maaji, a woman with an iron will who challenged patriarchy in her efforts to take the family out of the throes of poverty; his highly respected doctor–grandfather whose perseverance turned around the fortunes of his family; his friend Khawaja Imran who helped him bounce back from a failed business, and many others.
With instructions on how to jump a busy intersection, to the travails of setting up a business, and on to the advent of the War on Terror that has shaken the core of the country, this book portrays everyday life in Pakistan with an immediacy that is poignant and striking.