Mohit’s narrative follows the hardships of men working at an Abu Dhabi power station.
Osman, driving with his wife, Henna, on the way to Sakrand, Pakistan, gets lost and stumbles upon a palace in the jungle. The couple is invited inside, and the visiting undersecretary for the Water and Electricity Department of Abu Dhabi offers the man a job, despite the fact that Osman has a project awaiting him in Islamabad. WED constructs the Umm-Al-Nar power station. At the station, four men—Osman, Krishna, Ryan and Kanwal—bond while living together in a flat waiting for their families to join them. Mohit’s novel (For Our Daughters, 2000, etc.) seems to work better when taken as an assemblage of short stories—signified by titled chapters—rather than an all-encompassing book. There’s an unmistakable correlation among all 12 of the chapters, but many contain their own narratives—Krishna works for a dredging company in Dubai; the flatmates watch a belly dancer’s performance; the families take a weekend excursion—that don’t form a singular, cohesive storyline. Viewing the book as discrete stories also helps forgive some of the novel’s flaws. There’s no true protagonist, but one, or several, can be assigned in each chapter. And the timeline is confusing; though the year is denoted as 1977 early in the book, the number of years passing is difficult to determine. Mohit’s novel hits its highest notes with its understated moments: the description of a snake’s underbelly as it slithers across a windshield; a surprisingly endearing story of Ryan losing his daughter, Lily, at the License Department, though according to young Lily, it’s her father who’s lost. The book’s title is a reference to one character’s heartbreak, but the eponymous final chapter is remarkable and brings the novel full circle.
A meandering collection of affecting stories on family and loyalty.