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Samira & Samir - A Story of Love and Freedom

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omance knows no hurdles and nothing so powerful exists on this planet to raise barriers between loving minds. Not only the lavishly flowered gardens but the hell-hot deserts also may germinate few sprouts of romans.

Thus there comes this heart melting love story from Afghanistan, the land of branded terrorism where even the breeze bears on its shoulder the nasty smell of ammunition. Through the novel Samira & Samir the author Siba Shakib proves that outdated religious rituals may make women to hide themselves behind thick dark 'parda', but can never take away their dreams and hopes. The downtrodden women may be destined to view this beautiful world through black masks, but the colours of the inner eyes could never be faded by any authority and religion.

As the author Siba says Samira and Samir is an extraordinary tale of a young Afghan girl following her heart in a man's world. This is an unveiling look into Afghanistan life from a courageous point of view and of course this is a thrilling story of love and freedom.

Afghanistan, in Siba's own words is a land where only god comes to weep. The anarchy reigned state is truly a least liked place for a civilised person to step into. It is not ice cold water drops that rains in this land, but skull-braking bullets and fire spitting grenades. No sparrow sings a morning melody here, but roaring patten tanks and high frequency bomber jets wake up the mornings. And at every foot step everyone expects a bullet shot straight into the heart or the sound of a land-mine unlocked beneath the feat. How could then romance and love may bloom in anyone's heart amidst the fight to breath and live freely? How could then there be a love story from the land where sun raises only for people to die and never for anyone to live for another day.

But... Samira and Samir comes from this land of terror, from beyond Nowshak peaks and Helmand river, on the wings of wind that crossed Hindu-Kush mountain range and passed over Kabul streets.

Siba Shakib is an acclaimed filmmaker and international bestselling author. She was born in Iran and was brought up in Tehran attending a German school there. There are a number of documentaries and films on her credit. During her frequent travels through the land of Afghanistan including the territories commanded by Taliban, she was deeply shaken by the plight of helpless, discriminated, downtrodden Afghanistan women. When she, inspirited and initiated by the life of Afghan women, penned the real life stories into fictions, they became bestsellers as there are rays of truth glittering in them, as there are drops of tears shining in between the lines, and as there are unheard cries and unseen suffering revealed in the works. Siba, currently is working as an adviser to ISAS, the peacekeeping force in Afghanistan. She lives in New York and Germany. Other popular book from Siba Shakib is 'Afghanistan, Where God only comes to weep'.

The novel opens with the scene of a delivery which moves dramatically through the pains and suffering of a women who is about to give birth to her first child and also presents with the hops of a proud father and his dreams about having a brave son. But the first chapter ends with the first cry of the newborn child, to the father's devastation, a female baby.

The key twist in this novel and in the life of the protagonist is happened at this point as the Commander, the father of the new born names the girl child as Samir instead of Samira and decides to bring her up as a male child to continue his legacy as a brave warrior. Soon the fact that Samir is really a girl has been forgotten. Samir learns to fight, ride and shoot, and when her father is killed, she becomes head of the family. However, as an adult, Samir's love for the friend of her youth forces her to confess the truth. She wants to live as Bashir's wife but in return she must reveal her female identity and, in so doing, give up her freedom. Samira follows her heart but she hates wearing the veil. Eventually the torment is too great and Samira realises there has to be a third way for her- the way of a self- confident woman who bravely takes charge of her own life...

At the end of the novel Siba depicts Samir transferring into Samir in a symbolic way.

Samira weeps until her weeping turns into laughter... It is a laughter that she does not loose quickly, laughter that will stay with her for a long time.... It is the laughter of a woman... A real woman...

The entire novel could be told as picturing the identity crisis of a woman who had to live behind a mask forgetting herself and her identity as a woman. The moments of self realisation and stages of transformation in to womanhood is penned so realistically in the novel. Siba has molded the entire novel in simple present tense which seems added to the beauty of the words. Samira & Samir is a worthy fiction to hold near to heart as it has the heat of life in it and the sparks of truth too.

Saneesh Michael


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