Author: Shahbano Bilgrami
Reviewed by: Fakiha Hassan Rizvi
This novel is a clear depiction of ethnic and social segregations among the people of South Asia. The story revolves around two boys, Haroon Rizwan, the son of a renowned businessman of Saathpari and their servant boy Abdul. Although belonging to a rich family, Haroon’s nights are sleepless and marked by dreadful nightmares. Domestic violence and the shouts of a drunk father highlighting his high-handedness over Tahira (Haroon’s mother) give a psychological jolt to their child. He tries to intercept his parents during small quarrels, but finds himself as helpless as a statue, like the servant boy Abdul, who has no volition in the things defining his life.
As years pass by, Haroon sometimes wonders that how come Abdul breathe in subjugation. The servant boy on the other hand has special association with Haroon’s mother and is often noticed by her. After so many years when Haroon comes back to Saathpari, he realizes that it was him who murdered his father. Abdul wanted to stop him that night, but was accused of killing Javaid Rizwan (Haroon’s father). At that point Haroon identifies that despite the differences in social strata and financial statuses, there was still something in common between the servant boy and him. It was a life marred by violence, struggle and helplessness.
However, Abdul thought that the only thing that differentiated between him and Haroon was that the latter had a history. From his first prodding to his teenage, everything was recorded in the form of photographs. On the other hand, Abdul had no clue about his existence.
Without Dreams is a a must read for readers of South Asia. It gives a strong message about child labour, psychological influence of domestic violence over children and how even the privileged segment of the society is burdened by social differences.