As a child, all Aatish Taseer son of Governor Punjab Salman Taseer ever had of his father was his photograph in a browning silver frame. Raised by his Sikh mother in Delhi, his Pakistani father remained a distant figure, almost a figment of his imagination, until Aatish crossed the border when he was twenty-one to finally meet him. Sulman Taseer married twice. He had affair with famous Indian journalist Tavleen Singh. Both lived togather in London during mid 80s. Sulman has a love child from Tavleen Singh.
According to Indian Magazine Outlook, “the book is a fictional version of Aatish’s dramatic life story. Briefly, the story is this: “A short, intense relationship between a Pakistani politician, Salmaan Taseer, and an Indian journalist, Tavleen Singh, produces a child. As the relationship founders, the father (according to his son’s account) abandons the mother and the infant in London”.
“The accusations set off a storm of reactions in Aatish, from hurt and defensiveness to confusion and curiosity. How was his father, who (as he was to recount in his book) drank Scotch every evening, never fasted and prayed, even ate pork and once said: ‘It was only when I was in jail and all they gave me to read was the Quran”, the Outlook reported.
Following is an extract of the book:
“I had begun my journey asking why my father was Muslim, and this was why: none of Islam’s once powerful moral imperatives existed within him, but he was Muslim because he doubted the Holocaust, hated America and Israel, thought Hindus were weak and cowardly, and because the glories of the Islamic past excited him.
In the years that followed, the relationship between father and son revived, then fell apart. For Aatish, their tension had not just to do with the tensions of a son rediscovering his absent father — they were intensified by the fact that Aatish was Indian, his father Pakistani and Muslim. It had complicated his parents’ relationship; now it complicated his.
The relationship forced Aatish to ask larger questions: Why did being Muslim mean that your allegiances went out to other Muslims before the citizens of your own country? Why did his father, despite claiming to be irreligious, describe himself as a ‘cultural Muslim’? Why did Muslims see modernity as a threat? What made Islam a trump identity?
According to a website Stranger to History is the story of the journey Aatish made to answer these questions — starting from Istanbul, Islam’s once greatest city, to Mecca, its most holy, and then home, through Iran and Pakistan. Ending in Lahore, at his estranged father’s home, on the night Benazir Bhutto was killed, it is also the story of Aatish’s own divided family over the past fifty years. Part memoir, part travelogue, probing, stylish and troubling, Stranger to History is an outstanding debut.