A Book Review Of Road To Abana By Lata Gwalani: Exploring The Angst Of Homelessness And Much More

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Book Review Of Road To Abana By Lata Gwalani

Road To Abana

Review by Neelam Sharma, Booxoul.com

Author: Lata Gwalani
Writing Style


Road to Abana is the story of Paari and her steely determination to return to her home in Sukkur, Pakistan — a home she was forced to abandon during the Partition of 1947. Almost two decades later, the opportunity arrives when she is recruited into an arms trafficking business to deliver consignments to Karachi and Kandahar. From the deplorable refugee camp in Ulhasnagar on the outskirts of Bombay where she lives on the fringe of humanity to the dark alleys of Karachi and the treacherous terrains of Afghanistan, Paari’s dangerous journey is wrought with hardships that constantly test her spirit and tenacity. Just when fortune begins to favour her, she stumbles upon a bitter truth and the plot to prevent her from attaining her goal. Will Paari succumb to the betrayal or will she succeed in avenging her homelessness?


Sometimes some pieces of writing tend to say much more than just conveying a story. They speak beyond one’s words, one’s feelings and even one’s borders. The sense of déjà vu, comfort, and warmth one associates with his/her own home is an emotion that is so deep and embedded that we sometimes tend to forget that it even exists. And if in case, one happens to be unfortunate enough to experience the devoid of it then the feeling of being stuck between a strange abyss of homelessness, space and time is what engulfs one completely.

Such a story of homelessness, reclaiming that home and many other powerful concepts are what made up my last read Road To Abana By Lata Gwalani. The story revolves around Paari who is from the town of Sukkur in Pakistan, a home she was forced to abandon during the partition of 1947. The story revolves and encapsulates her journey from the refugee camps of Ulhasnagar to Karachi and Afghanistan. It highlights the hardships Paari has to face to reach her home, which tests her spirit and her nerve and chutzpah. Will she be able to get over these shrouds of homelessness that threaten to engulf her for life? Read the book to find out more.

The story of a woman’s determination to reach her Abana (home) distinctly will catch your attention for the simple reason that there is much more to the story that shall come your way when you peruse this one. I was especially impressed by the manner in which Lata has curated Paari’s character, making her the perfect icon of perseverance and resilience. I mean, we, today’s women, surely for one, will see through and resonate with the manner Paari relentlessly goes on the path to reaching her home, to getting back to her roots. 

This is a story which also highlights the anguish and agony of those who suffer in the before and aftermaths of war, partition and such scenarios where they are forced to give up their normal course of life and family, their house. That is because a house is simply not a structure alone. It comprises much more right from the memories of a person to their family, their upbringing, their childhood, and almost everything they are made of.

So, what is it that one loses in a war, in a partition, in such a situation when the circumstances are compromised to the extreme level? Simple. The peace of heart and mind. The feeling of being truly yourself. Your roots, your nest, your home. Lata has managed to portray this anguish and having done that she has also taken care to ensure that one mulls over this after finishing the book and is compelled to go back and reason out how does homelessness really feel like and what it actually means for those who go through it. The plight of the Sindhi community and their struggles to battle for their identity and existence amidst hostile environments have been captured very aesthetically by her. 

I could completely feel the plethora of pain upon which Paari and her life situations were poised. Being challenged in multiple ways, there was hardly anything or anybody, I’d say who might have given her a kind one over of understanding. Instead, she was only challenged at every stage, which she relentlessly seemed to be crossing over to move on to the next, in a simple pursuit-reaching her home, her Abana.

A whirlwind of emotions that you will feel once you fully comprehend the message Lata has tried to subtly but surely portray through her work. As you read on you will fully understand and oscillate between the characters, and their sketching and then grasp the deeper meaning of why and what compelled their presence and role in this story. 

I have read many stories of partition, both pre as well as post. The core for all has somehow been similar with the weightage being given to the complete manner in which that partition changed the country or the community or people at large. However, this one muses upon the same but at a more micro level, showing us how exactly it is never about winning, losing, or changing sides but simply about going to and being secure in your own nest-the embargo you call Home. This is a fabulous work by a fabulous writer who is not here to only give you another story of post-partition challenges but to delve deeply into the pursuit of one such common woman who is engulfed by these and who manages to wriggle free from them, making way to her true calling.

Related: Book Review of Prisoner of Secrets by Lata Gwalani

I want to add sine further personal observations here. The manner in which Lata has showcased the Sindhi community highlighting not only their culture but also their love for each other, unity, and the manner in which they share sorrows too. Past and present having been fused as well as transitioned out really well, Lata has managed to present a slice of ‘Sindhiyat’ as they call it and am glad to have read the same. I now actually feel like researching and finding out more about it, the hardships they suffered, the manner in which they have relocated their roots, the pain and endurance they have displayed, all of this had now become a subject matter of concern and interest to me, after reading this one. Eagerly awaiting her next.

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