‘Clear Mountain Water’ by Liam Paul Wallinger

Step Eight: Did my beard just get thicker?’

Hello everyone. I am, of course, off my medication.

In our day-to-day lives, it can be easy to feel bloodless and divorced from nature, as if pushed from place to place by enormous metal gears like in a Charlie Chaplin moving picture. We can feel so out of control of our own selves sometimes, living in a world ruled by systems and laws established by people we’ve never met, that we need stories about heroes. Heroes like SahebaN speak to us because they take us out of the mundane, and into the realm where we feel alive.

Heroes exist simultaneously within and without societal systems, venturing off the paths that those great clockwork sprockets push us along from birth to death, demonstrating to us mortals that there do exist, as a matter of fact, options. Heroes like SahebaN show us that it’s possible to participate in a crooked game, but to do so honorably.

The role of the hero is often to slay dragons. This hero’s dragons however, are more relatable to most of us than a large animal with scales. This hero does battle not with big lizards, but with society’s expectations of us, and, for example in the excellently-titled chapter, ‘SahebaN VS the Idea of Permanent Job Security’, our expectations of society.

It is impossible, (or rather, far too taxing for a smooth-brained dilettante such as myself,) to pick a favourite line from the book. However, there is a part in ‘Vital Parts’, which to my mind takes place in the kind of primordial domain of dreams and myth that will allow for a child to have superhuman attributes such as being able to speak despite being a newborn infant, as well as the ability to question authority:
“Clip! He cut the only umbilical cord SahebaN had, taking with it most of her hopes of returning.”

As she tells Ego later, she is still connected to her mother by her umbilical cord, as the doctor could only cut the middle of the cord, not its beginning or end. It’s strange to think that it is literally true that everyone you’ve ever met has been nothing more than a growth or polyp that his or her mother had to have medically removed.

Author Fauzia Rafique has created a world with a Newtonian level of moving parts, sealed tight in a literary jar of her own making. The fictitious biographer character Ego Feathers, (Who perhaps represents the author’s Jungian “shadow self,”) serves to punch holes in playful constellations in the jar’s lid, letting in oxygen and, more importantly, the author’s divine light to shine on the faces of the characters she has so skillfully trapped in a universe with power structures as complicated and corrupt as our own, as well as a novel system of magic that comes across as internally consistent and logical as computer programming language.

Using such oddly familiar and consistent language lets the reader behind the curtain, allowing us a peek at the thought processes and the compromises between intent and reality of those Magic Civilians and Civil Magicians that are peppered throughout the novel.

As a balance to all that spice, the attic salt offered by the tension between Rafique’s straightforward narration and the shameless editorializing of the fictional biographer Ego Feathers, serves to add a full and robust flavor for the reader’s ingestion of the book’s stew of the vegetables of social commentary and hearty chunks of lean, seasoned feminist theory.

When the bowl slides in front of you, and you get a face full of that steam, you’re going to want to pull back from the heat. That’s okay. That’s a natural reaction. You’re only human, and this is hot soup. Take it one sip at a time at first if you need to, but by the end you’ll be drinking it back like clear mountain water.

It’s satisfying; it’s refreshing, it’s everything you wanted it to be. But even once you’ve bought it and read it and you think you’ve absorbed it, you’re going to want to dive back into that clear mountain water, because no matter how many times you return, it seems there are always more pearls of wisdom to be found.

I hope you’ll pardon me for Waxing Pataphorical On and Off like a conceptual Karate Kid.

I’m Liam Wallinger, artist and author of The Gravedigger’s Holiday and I flatter myself to say, friend of Fauzia Rafique.

Presented at SahebaN book launch in November 2016.


The Adventures of SahebaN:
Biography of a Relentless Warrior

A novel by Fauzia Rafique
Libros Libertad 2016

Art work by Shahid Mirza, Photo Mohammad Hasan, Design Iryna Spica.

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‘Drums of Change: A Review of Fauzia Rafique’s The Adventures of SahebaN’ by Jessica Barratt

Published February 26, 2019 at Words Of Hers.

SahebaN is the feminist warrior I hadn’t realized I was missing.

‘Being a Canadian woman writer of European descent, I came into Fauzia Rafique’s The Adventures of SahebaN without background knowledge of the role (Mirza) Sahiba plays in much of traditional Punjabi culture. The beauty of Rafique’s text however, is how my lack does not impact my understanding of how the narrative turns a cultural model for perfection (Sahiba) on her head to showcase the flaws of that very perfection, and (in particular) to show that a woman can be honourable, and pure, and loyal, without bowing to the restrictive ideas and expectations that society and religion place upon her.

‘Right away announcing her departure from the traditional “folk” Sahiba, Rafique creates her double in SahebaN, the Relentless Warrior. From the moment she is born, SahebaN questions those around her; but in a world where questions from a woman, and especially a brown one, are not taken seriously, she finds only silence. Readers soon recognize her universe as a barely veiled image of our own, led by none other than Civil Magicia, a “fantastical” governing head that perpetuates inequality, and which seems dedicated to controlling the natural chaos of humanity. Yet, as our uninhibited (and repeatedly misinformed) SahebaN rises and falls through CM’s imposed hierarchies, readers get the chance to rejoice through her struggle as she continually flouts the very authorities trying desperately to regulate her existence.

‘It is within this frame that I came to know SahebaN as the feminist warrior I hadn’t realized I was missing. She fights back against those who would dare oppress her by using her very femininity as her strength, at one point, literally pushing a bloodied menstrual pad into her potential rapist’s face! (Yes!)’

Continue Reading at Words of Hers:
wordsofhers.com/2019/02/26/drums-of-change-a-review-of-fauzia-rafiques-the-adventures-of-saheban

Jessica Barratt is an author and editor who founded Words of Hers, the home of JBEditing and The (Almost) Daily. Visit her ‘Loving Edits’ Facebook page at the link below.
facebook.com/LovingEdits
jessicabarratt@live.ca

the-adventures-of-saheban_cover_nov61
The Adventures of SahebaN:
Biography of a Relentless Warrior

A novel by Fauzia Rafique
Libros Libertad 2016

Art work by Shahid Mirza, Photo Mohammad Hasan, Design Iryna Spica.

..

Being spotted as a girl…

saheban-advert11-b

‘Contrary to our expectations, it is probably true that since age 11, SahebaN lived in the constant fear of being spotted as a girl having her periods when she was having her periods.’

Coming of the Clothes
SahebaN & the Rites of Reproduction

Buy it here
the-adventures-of-saheban_cover_nov61
The Adventures of SahebaN:
Biography of a Relentless Warrior

A novel by Fauzia Rafique
Libros Libertad 2016

Art work by Shahid Mirza, Photo Mohammad Hasan, Design Iryna Spica.

..

‘An alternate feminist manifesto’ – Heidi Greco

saheban-advert9

‘This fantastically complex tale presents what could be construed as an alternate feminist manifesto, rallying not only against outdated rules and ‘the man’ but against government, the wealthy and more. The main character, SahebaN, is nearly as clever and feisty as her creator, Fauzia Rafique.’

Heidi Greco
Author of Shrinking Violets

Buy it here
the-adventures-of-saheban_cover_nov61
The Adventures of SahebaN:
Biography of a Relentless Warrior

A novel by Fauzia Rafique
Libros Libertad 2016

Art work by Shahid Mirza, Photo Mohammad Hasan, Design Iryna Spica.

..

‘The Adventures of Saheban: a complex fantasy realism book’ by Wendy Harris

The Adventures of Saheban is a complex fantasy realism book, connecting characters existing in four different time zones to SahebaN, the controversial protagonist. Named after SahebaN of the Punjabi folk story, ‘Mirza SahebaN’, our leading character becomes a Relentless Warrior, survivor of the systemic nature of sexism, exploitation, and racism.

Two critical events reveal the root of SahebaN’s war against oppression. Her mother, Jattee, is grief-stricken at the arrival of a precocious, infant daughter instead of a child with ‘pee-nuts,’ and as the doctor cuts the umbilical cord, SahebaN scratches his face. Already marked as a rebel, SahebaN is less than four-years old when she connects the mystery ‘pee-nuts,’ to the ‘hard thing’ she feels while being molested by a priest. The action she takes leads to being condemned as ‘the Spirit of Satan,’ and her father agrees to throw SahebaN and Jattee, his ‘female shit,’ out of the house.

In 1949, Simone de Beauvoir, author of The Second Sex, wrote: ‘All oppression creates a state of war, this is no exception.’ In The Adventures of SahebaN, Fauzia Rafique has taken the principle, weaving this fundamental truth through the lives of four women. SahebaN, heroine of a popular Pakistani folk story, rebels against her family, refusing an arranged marriage; SahebaN, the weaponless Warrior, rebels against a male-dominated society; Ego Feathers is forced to write SahebaN’s biography in secret code; and Fauzia, oppressed by rampant sexism in her native country, embarks on a new life in a different country, only to experience further oppression in the guise of racism, and economic disparity. Stumbling across SahebaN’s biography, Fauzia cracks Ego Feathers’s code, ultimately (and hopefully) freeing herself from the chains that have bound her existence.

The Adventures of SahebaN relentlessly probes the foundation of inequality as it spans across time, and different societies. Brutally honest, the disturbing and thought provoking nature of the material enveloped in compelling stories, draws the reader into a world often touched, but seldom revealed.

This book has the potential to reach a wide reader audience. As characters move, and develop through the stories, their experiences reveal deep bonds that people from every society, and from both genders, can identify with, and share.
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Buy it here
the-adventures-of-saheban_cover_nov61
The Adventures of SahebaN:
Biography of a Relentless Warrior

A novel by Fauzia Rafique
Mail out December 1st.
Libros Libertad 2016

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Wendy Harris is a freelance writer/editor, graduating from the Print Futures: Professional Writing program. She was part of the 2004 Vancouver International Writers & Readers Festival Program editing team.
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