Real events in­spire cap­ti­vat­ing story of how faith moves moun­tains

Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition) - - ARTS - Abhinanda Datta

spir­i­tual grace. It takes the read­ers on a jour­ney into the depths of the oc­cult prac­tices of Is­lam and Hin­duism.

In­spired by real-life events, the book in­tro­duces us to Zainul Khan, who is co­matose af­ter a ve­hi­cle crash.

The fam­ily en­deav­our to re­main hope­ful while pre­par­ing for the worst as his vi­tals be­gin to fail.

They refuse the prog­no­sis of doc­tors and are not pre­pared to ac­cept Zainul’s un­timely demise and main­tain an un­wa­ver­ing faith in a higher cos­mic force.

A se­ries of su­per­nat­u­ral events un­ravel as the Hindu god­dess Kali, Is­lam’s Hazrat Ali and the Hindu avatar of Lord Shiva, Sathya Sai Baba, work in uni­son to pro­tect his soul from tran­si­tion­ing.

In an in­ter­view with the Week­end Ar­gus, Khan said he had been pon­der­ing this since he was in­volved in a freak crash with his brother last year.

“I lived ev­ery day since that mo­ment in slow mo­tion. I quit my 9 to 5 job and ded­i­cated the past two years to spend­ing ev­ery day with him as he re­cov­ered.

“In the Sotho tra­di­tion, it is said ei­ther the el­dest child or the youngest will be the one whose spirit is blessed to keep a fam­ily to­gether. I sup­pose, in our case, it was my brother Zain. He was the one who in­spired me to pen this novel,” he said.

Dur­ing his for­ma­tive years, Khan was greatly in­flu­enced by re­li­gion and the power that reli­gious texts held over his im­pres­sion­able mind. He stud­ied com­puter sci­ence in Dur­ban only to aban­don it af­ter a year and study at Ox­ford for three years.

His true pas­sion resided in the writ­ten word and he said he has been writ­ing for as long as he can re­mem­ber. Grow­ing up in a du­al­faith fam­ily helped him pen the reli­gious nu­ances in this book, and played a strong role in the se­lec­tion of this par­tic­u­lar theme.

“I chose this sub­ject, as it is one that is close to my heart and be­lief sys­tems. My mother’s lin­eage is Hindu and my fa­ther be­longs to the Sunni Mus­lim tribe.

“From a very young age, my tute­lage in lan­guage, cul­ture, tra­di­tion and reli­gious prac­tice was (in­stilled) in me from my grand­par­ents. I would spend time af­ter school in madras­sah (Is­lamic school of teach­ing), then I would rush over to my Hindu grand­par­ents for more stud­ies, but this time in Hin­duism.

“I loved the mix of both reli­gions. It gave me a sense of pride to be able to un­der­stand an­cient doc­trines of Hin­duism and Is­lam,” he said.

The book is ded­i­cated to the primeval spir­i­tual en­ergy of God­dess Kali. She is pic­tured as the most fear­some Hindu Shakti (Power) and her sto­ries are bed­time tales that give one a sense of com­fort.

Khan sheds light on tra­di­tions that are deemed ob­so­lete but are very much in prac­tice on the sly.

“When we speak of the bal­ance in life, there has al­ways been a du­al­ity that I have been ex­posed to in Hin­duism. The el­e­ment of Shiva and Shakti is like yin and yang… The con­cept in Is­lam of oc­cult and tantric prac­tice is known as ‘black magic’.”

Pro­pelled by the di­vine hand of God, Khan be­gan writ­ing the book on the first day of the Hindu fes­ti­val of Navara­tri (Nine Nights), and com­pleted it on the ninth day. He is hope­ful read­ers will par­take in his jour­ney and his words can in­stil faith in their hearts.

“The book is an of­fer­ing of hope and love – a jour­ney into the depths of myth, le­gend, oc­cult and tantric prac­tice. When I wrote (the book) it wasn’t a jour­ney I found very easy. I moved be­tween Hindu, San­skrit, and Ara­bic and Urdu. I spent a good deal of time en­sur­ing that when a per­son of an­other cul­ture read the book, it would carry the tone of malev­o­lence and pas­sion that a Hindu or Mus­lim would ex­pe­ri­ence,” he said.

The book hits the shelves next month. Cur­rently it is avail­able on­line at Ama­zon and Kobo.

Large-scale sculp­tures fill the gallery space.

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