The Upstairs Wife: An Intimate History of Pakistan
by Rafia Zakaria
Beacon Press, 2014. 251 pgs. Non-fiction.
Zakaria works a melancholy magic in this family history which she weaves into the history of her country. Zachary's family left a comfortable living and good home in India not too long after partition because they were nervous about being Muslim in an almost entirely Hindu society. Karachi gave them opportunities they had not previously enjoyed, but a dark sorrow came over the family when Rafia's Aunt Amina's husband took a second wife without, as required by Islamic law, receiving her permission first. Moved to an upstairs apartment, lived in my her husband every other week, Aunt Amina becomes embittered and possessive, sorrowful in a way that cannot be cured. Such, as well, was the fate of Pakistan, as the bright future predicted there devolved into infighting, Islamist rule, and terrorism. Zakaria is a fine writer, whose nuanced and descriptive narrative introduces the reader to a land a people we maybe thought we knew, but didn't have a clue.