‘As I Prepare For Landing!’ is the debut book of Mrs. Gulnar Raheem Khan. It won the Best Debut Fiction Book award held at the 4th ALS Lit Fest in 2022. It has been described as a ‘Basket of Stories’ and a ‘Casket of Poems’. I would, however, classify most of the prose in this book as personal experiences and anecdotes. They do not follow the structure expected from a short story – like character arc, plot, conflict. They are simplistic in nature, with love and compassion being the common themes recurring throughout the book.
The collection is a tribute to the writer’s late husband who sadly succumbed to Covid during the second wave. Mrs. Khan still misses him, and this reveals itself in most of the works.
The book begins with ‘Over The Sea’. It is a true account of Mr. Mohamed Fazlulla Khan’s journey to Cyprus, where he taught English Literature at the European University, Lefke. Mrs. Khan then remembers her carefree childhood days at her grandmother’s place in ‘Won’t You Stay Back With Me?’. It is a delightful account of the fun-loving old lady, who sneaks out of the house to catch a late-night movie show. My favourite pick from the book is ‘When The Angel Of Death Stood Waiting At My Door’, where the ailing woman requests Izrail for a few seconds more, so that her daughter-in-law can break her Ramadan fast, and gain enough strength to withstand the news of her beloved mother-in-law’s death. Mrs. Khan steers clear of stereotypes in this book and shows that not all in-laws are cruel, or for that matter, all men are scheming monsters.
The poems in this book are profound. ‘And She Became My Light’ is a touching piece where the blind man braces himself to see the world through the eyes of his wife. ‘You Are Sixty, Going On Seventy’ is effervescent in nature. It shows a couple embracing their age, but not allowing it to diminish their spirit. ‘Who Is The Winner?’ is a poignant take on the futility of war. ‘Tea For Two’ will tug at the readers’ heartstrings.
‘As I Prepare For Landing!’ is not a piece of fiction with some random musings thrown in for effect. It is a labour of love, an emotion Mrs. Khan still nurtures in her aching heart for her beloved husband. As mentioned earlier, this book encompasses kindness and other virtues which have unfortunately taken a backseat in this age of negativity.
I wish Mrs. Khan the best for her future endeavours. It was my pleasure to have received this book from her. Reading and reviewing it has been a humbling experience.
P.C – The writer’s page in Facebook