The eight interconnected short stories in Daniyal Mueenuddin’s In Other Rooms, Other Wonders describe the lives of the family, employees, servants, and acquaintances of aging landlord K. K. Harouni. These stories are set in the Punjab region of Pakistan and explore the state of feudalism and its influence on modern life.
The manager of the wells on K. K. Harouni’s farm in Dunyapur, Nawabdin is a master at rigging the meters to cheat the electric company. Nawab is a tireless worker who takes on many odd jobs to feed the thirteen children whom he has with his wife. Nawab’s status increases after he convinces his master, Harouni, to provide him with a motorcycle and gas allowance to get around on the farm.
One evening as Nawab attends to his work, a poor traveler stops him on the road that leads from the city and begs a ride. After some consideration, Nawab submits. But while riding, the man points a gun at Nawab’s back and demands that he hand over the motorcycle. Nawab fights for his precious possession, and the man shoots him in the groin. The noise from the gun alerts the nearby villagers, who come to Nawab’s rescue and shoot the robber with a rifle. Both men are taken to the village’s clinic, where the attending pharmacist treats Nawab but pronounces the imminent death of the robber. On his deathbed, the robber begs Nawab’s forgiveness, but Nawab considers that the man would have left him to die in the road and refuses to pardon the robber. The man dies, and Nawab is happy that he fought for what is rightfully his.
Saleema comes from a family of addicts and criminals, so she offers her body as a sexual object to obtain opportunities. When a seemingly worthy suitor comes into her village, she leaves with him and goes to Lahore. There she becomes one of the maids of a wealthy man, K. K. Harouni, while her husband falls prey to amphetamines. Almost immediately, Saleema begins sleeping with the staff cook, Hassan, in return for special treats from the kitchen. When Hassan tires of Saleema and gives her the cold shoulder, she feels that her life is hopeless—until she catches the eye of the senior driver, Rafik. Although Rafik is married with two sons and is many years older than Saleema, the two begin a love affair. Saleema gets pregnant and births the couple’s son, whom they name Allah Baksh, the...
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