Hussein is that rare breed of writers who lives for his craft. Many books and accolades later, this gentle man turns to looking back at his life in a slim volume that is neither quite an autobiography nor indeed accompanied by the verbosity and self-magnification that accompanies such books.
Perhaps he might not have even written it had it not been for the fact that around the Covid years, his earlier Cancer diagnosis was updated by the caveat that he would live for two to five years instead of the given ten. Then, he broke his leg and that his beloved sister and mother both died.
Enough reasons to write an autobiography, but what he does instead is to choose wonderful pieces that he has written along the years—fiction and non-fiction—and stitch them into a tapestry that contains threads of his travels, his friends, the authors he has known (the chapter on Han Suyin is beautiful), elements from nature (trees and swans being among them) the literature festivals that he has attended, in Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and Palestine—and much, much more.
The book encapsulates in its 147 pages the itinerary of a brilliant, sensitive mind. It leaves the reader wanting more, as well as giving up a silent prayer that the body housing such a mind lives longer, that indeed, miraculously, the Damocles’ sword of a dreaded disease should lift forever from his head.