Reading Zeneefa Zeneer’s recently published book titled “Nothing but love” was quite an experience. I was privileged to receive a digital copy of the book from the author herself. However, it took me some time to open it up since I’m one of those traditional readers who in Carissa Lamkahouan’s words love to romanticize the real and only embrace the evolution. The ‘real’ in the actual sense means the paperback while ‘the evolution’ is digital. However, reading the first paragraph of the book totally plunged me into it and I found myself savouring each word until I reached the final stop.
Set in Sri Lanka, ‘Nothing but love’ tells the story of a young girl, Barakah Ismail, who suffered a terrible fate after the loss of her father at a rather tender age. Haunted many years after by unsettled feelings of hurt and anguish and thrown into more confusion by the last testament of an older friend, Barakah finds herself at crossroads in deciding whether to honour her friend in death and marry her big-headed, egocentric son, Amash, or to succumb to having the inexorable Jayrun Yahya become the legal guardian of the children as well as the entire property. This dives her into a sea of vexation, fury and heartache as the love she so much yearns for remains hidden in the heart of an unyielding husband
Barakah soon finds that getting married was for the wrong reasons as she begins to experience love for a man who only needed a wife to claim his mother’s property. In the face of humiliation by a set of triplets who are supposed to be her sisters – in – law and ill-treatment from the “big aunty”, Jayrun who wishes her nothing but hard luck in life, Barakah puts on a cloak of humility and self – sacrifice, seeking to unbolt the tender, honourable man from the flesh of her haughty husband. Will Barakah ever be able to find her feet in life and experience true love? Will she find answers to the mystifying puzzles in her life? Will she ever be able to embrace the shadows of her past?
Each page of the novel enveloped me in a shroud of uncertainty as the book burst in suspense. There were a lot of twists and turns as well as highs and lows that increased my yearning for what was to come. A lot of unanswered questions flowed in and out of my mind. Would there be an end to all the petty quarrels between the couple? Would the triplets ever come to accept her with love as their sister – in – law? Would she ever regain her dignity in the family? What would her first love night be like? How would Amash feel when he found out that his wife was still untouched and unscathed? Would he learn to cherish and protect her for the rest of his life? The questions were endless. The author displayed good mastery of language, playing with words to depict emotions, actions and scenes. The characters were strong, each with its uniqueness and imperfection. And to a little extent, the author depicted the Sri Lankan culture especially as it relates to family life.
I totally love the fact that love and marriage were defined within the bounds of the halal. I also appreciate the fact that the author portrayed the ups and downs of marriage, reminding us that Shaytan is present in every home trying to destroy the sacred bond between husband and wife. However, I expected that the protagonist would be able to successfully influence the people around her into practising the deen more effectively. This was only slightly manifested in the book as none of the other characters depicted in any way an iota of change as regards the consciousness of the deen. But I must confess that I totally enjoyed reading the book and I absolutely recommend it to everyone who loves to read. It teaches a lot of virtues amongst which are loyalty, trust, perseverance, self – sacrifice, modesty and humility. The book is another good addition to the already existing genre of Islamic Romance fiction.