This is a story of three families of fairly diverse backgrounds, linked through their children. Bangladeshi Samad Iqbal and English Archie are best buddies, going back to their Army days together in the Second World War. Iqbal immigrates to UK and marries Alsana, a marriage arranged by their families. Archie after one unhappy, childless marriage, marries Clara, a Jamaican woman half his age. While the Iqbals have twin boys, Archie and Clara have a daughter, Irie. The children go to a liberal secondary school and befriend through a classmate Benjamin, his extra-liberal White parents. The situations and the interactions of the conservative Muslim Samad, his pragmatically Muslim wife, the narrow viewed Archie and his Jamaican wife with the school system, and their obstinate denial of the ……… are all realistic, sad and funny at the same time. The over-zealously religious mother of Clara, the genetic scientist father of Benjamin, and a host of peripheral but entertaining characters in the environs of North London make the reading enjoyable. Samad, upset over the ways the younger generation, sends one of his twins to Bangladesh in order to make him a good Muslim. But the irony of how this turns out, with the twin who stays behind in London turning to a radical Muslim group and the one from Bangaldesh returning as a prim and proper, well mannered ‘more English than the English’ man is full of pathos. This is a book published in 2000, a year before 9/11, and a few years before ‘radicalization’ has become a part of our lexicon. It is clear that there is something that we do wrong…… the realities and hard truth are dealt with humor and sympathy for the persona. A lovely, although a tad long, book.
The other book I have started is one with the intriguing title of “The voluptuos delights of peanut butter and jam”. It is a story set in erstwhile Rhodesia (current Zimbabwe) during the civil war of the 60s and 70s recounted by two young children. It is a period and place I have not read about before – although I remember some of those events from the front page news they created at the time!
My plodding through the ‘Creative destruction of Medicine’ has not picked up pace – it may have something to do with the fact that as a doctor I am not happy with the world view being put forth by the author. But I’m half way there… and will let you have the final verdict soon.