Sophia Khan is Not Obliged

by Ayisha Malik

Read this in about 5 minutes
I got this book in my February box from The Biblio Box, and dived right into it as the theme of the book is relevant to life at the moment, and also because the Author is someone we wanted to cover in this month that celebrates women in all their glory and diversity. Read on to know about this very enjoyable book, and if you want to know more about the Author, click here.

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Cover

The cover is a pleasant blue one with a silhouette of a hijab clad modestly dressed woman, and a man with a scarf around his neck. There are henna designs adorning the edges of the cover with the central space of the cover dedicated to the title. The man and woman represent characters in the book, and the henna possibly denotes the wedding drama that the book partly revolves around. The cover is quirky and gives some insight into what the book has in store for it’s reader.

Characters

The book is about Sophia Khan- daughter of immigrant Pakistani parents and a Londoner at heart. Imran is her “potential husband”, and there is Naim who she meets on a matrimonial website. The other characters in the book are Sophia’s sister, her parents, and her very close friends. Conall is her neighbor who is yet another significant part of the book. Oh, did I forget to add the potential suitors and annoying parents? Yes, add those too.

Content

A publicist by profession, Sophia’s engagement with Imran breaks as he refuses to move out of his parent’s home. When life takes one thing, it gives you another- and she lands an opportunity to write a book! The team at her workplace believe that Sophia can pen the woes and agonies of how it is for modern Muslims to date, and the ideal of finding “THE MAN”.
Geared with this challenge, Sophia makes her account on a matrimonial site as she feels its the best way to research for her book! What’s more, she meets men that end up becoming more than mere research matter. She meets Naim, with whom she quickly becomes friends, but are they only friends?She is not alone in the miserable journey of finding a man, as her friends too are undergoing similar woes. With varied dating set ups, disaster dates and some successful ones that lead to marriages, the book takes one through the life of most girls (desi, NRI, working/non-working – no single Indian/Pakistani girl in her 20s and 30s is spared) going through the trauma of “arranged marriages” and its lousy evolution to suit recent times.
While the book wonderfully portrays how a supportive family (though crazy in it’s own way) goes a long way, it goes on to exhibit how strong female friendships (fights, fallouts – all inclusive) are and what keeps them going. It also shows how a brooding, but kind neighbor extends his offer to share his space with his loud desi, a little crazy neighbors and how that is a start of yet another beautiful friendship that overcomes the obstacles of colour and religion.

Language

The language is simple and easy to attune oneself to. Sprinkled with Hindi and Punjabi, and the local London slang, the book is of a good 400 odd pages, but the funny narration, sarcasm and very real and relatable life lessons and experiences make it a light  and breezy read.

Good Points

The narration is a fine display of how the Author has written right from her heart. It is not pretentious in it’s approach, the characters are not glorified and the plot shows how our system is so full of loopholes – but does so in a humorous way. Sophia is very adorable, with her strength, flaws, hijab and all. It is a beautiful portrayal of a woman, who understands her shortcoming, is a passionate believer in her ideologies, and one who though hurt by love- still hopes for it (though she has sworn off men!).
Another thing that is very appealing about the book are the varied bonds, and their growth throughout the book. From the bond of parents, couples, friends, lovers and even neighbors – the book is a sweet display of the mayhem of these relationships while highlighting the love that holds them together.

Bad Points

It will time and again make you feel like you are in the middle of a desi drama, because it seems our protagonist’s life is anything but mundane!

Overall

I loved this book! With all its wit, sentiments and drama – this became my best friend as I too like thousands of 20 something desi girl’s is simmering in the pressure of taking the plunge!

Who do I recommend it to?

If you are distressed by life and all it’s drama (read: drama related to being engaged/getting married), pick up this fun book. You are sure to find a companion in Sophia, for as they say – our troubles unite us as nothing else can!
If you have always wondered how “Muslim dating”, or “arranged marriages” happen (wow, you are not subjected to it ?? Unfair world), take this ride with Sophia!

Quotable Quotes

Perhaps this is God’s way of saying ,here, you might not have a man, but have a book instead. I was, after-all, looking for something meaningful.
You know those people who say ‘Go with the flow?’ They’re idiots. Question everything and , more often than not, you’ll stumble across an answer.
‘Men are never the ones to make the sacrifices’. Seems like all the goats in the world are female.
If you want to keep your sanity, learn how to drown out the voice of your family.
Maybe you will be scared for ever’. ‘Lekin never show him .When people know you are scared, they make it your weakness.

Gazala Amreen

Logophile, bibliophile, writer, designer, high on wanderlust and all things pretty.

Bangalore, KA merakipost.com