Book Review: Twice bitten....
The Saint and the Satans is the first thought that comes to our mind after we finish reading Reham Khan, an autobiography of journalist and the former wife of Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan. Another impression formed almost immediately is ‘Mills & Boons story gone sour’.
The Saint and the Satans is the first thought that comes to our mind after we finish reading Reham Khan, an autobiography of journalist and the former wife of Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan. Another impression formed almost immediately is ‘Mills & Boons story gone sour’. But what strikes a chord is the statement that Khan keeps repeating sporadically throughout the book — ‘What were you thinking of, woman?’ She writes this expecting a lot of female readers to say this to her on reading her autobiography.
Any sane woman would ask this question. Or someone who has gone through marital abuse would. Married to her first cousin Dr Ijaz Rehman, when she was barely 19, Khan divorces him 12 years later. Her marriage to Rehman is estranged from the start, and to establish some normalcy and to bring the two of them together, she plans to have a child. This could be attributed to her naivety at the age of 19-20 and genuine efforts at repairing their relationship. But when she plans to bear two more kids in the same hope, it sounds a little ludicrous, especially when her son Sahir was abused by his father. Clearly, Khan hasn’t heard of the adage ‘once bitten, twice shy’.
After the marriage is broken, it’s commendable how Khan and her three kids rebuild their lives in United Kingdom, with no financial help from Rehman. It’s the story of a single mother who finds warmth and happiness in her life. She takes up various courses, one being in media, and also takes up two or three jobs so as to ensure her children get the best education possible. Like any other South Asian story of a single woman, she has no help from her parents. They clearly aren’t comfortable with the idea of separated spouses, despite being privy to the knowledge that this wasn’t a rosy relationship.
She returns to Pakistan after the death of her father, so that she can be closer to her mother and her sister’s family. In UK, she had read weather for BBC and also hosted a legal show for another channel. In Pakistan, she does current affairs show, a celeb show and then gravitates towards doing shows on the restive Khyber-Pakthunkhwa province, to which she traces her family origins.
Calling herself as someone who sticks to the straight and narrow style of life, she steers clears of wily politicians and people trying to cosy up to her. Yet, she falls for Imran Khan. The later part of the book is an expose of sorts of the current Pakistani Premier — his sex life, his long standing affair with drugs, with bottle and yes, black magic! It also has details about the functioning of the now ruling party — Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf — and how Imran’s office and home was run by his cronies, and people seeking favour as Imran apparently had no money of his own.
Like in the past, Khan gets introduced to Imran’s vices early in the marriage. But she is taken in by Imran’s promises that he wants to change and only Khan can change him. She falls for it and the mist clears when she realises that her then husband and her previous husband were colluding against her. With proof in hand, she walks away from the marriage with Imran.
What could be of slight interest in this often repetitive book is how Pakistan and Indian media and governments are similar. They are so caught up in India and Pakistan bashing, they forget the issues at hand — for instance people’s welfare in respective countries.