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Title: HaveliHaveli

Author: Zeenat Mahal

Publisher: Indireads

Haveli Book Excerpt

ISBN: 978-1-927826-02-7 

Pages: 100

Price: Rs. 199/-

Webpage: http://www.indireads.com/books/haveli/  

Book Review:


Haveli’ is a story about the heir of a Haveli of Nawabs in Pakistan. It is about a girl ‘Chandini’ (a.k.a C) who has a sanctified lineage. Based in 1970s in Pakistan, this narrative is from her perspective.

The story starts as we experience a sweet and salty rapport between a culturally rich grandmother – Zaitoon Beigum (a.k.a Broad) and a saucy granddaughter – Chandini. The grandmother took care of Chandini by homeschooling her in her mother’s absence since her childhood to make her a confident and strong-headed young woman, while Chandini on the other hand, has all respect for her affluent ethnicity and etiquettes (taught to her by her grandmother, as the Haveli culture demands) but she has conflicting emotions.

Moving a little back to the times of yore, her father abandoned Chandini and later she lost her mother also, both during her infancy and since then felt the agony of being a forsaken kid. Driven by the anguish she longs for her father (a.k.a. ‘Nameless’) to revisit Haveli at-least once, plead her clemency, and assert his love for her. She has no one to share her agony but her half-brother, Zafar (son of her father born from another woman).

She wants to marry ‘Kunwar’, who is twice her age but bumps into son of a family friend (Baba and Bua) and who is also grandmother’s choice – Taimur (a.k.a ‘Alpha Male’). She does not like Taimur at all, particularly because of two main reasons – first that he sees through her acts in chasing Kunwar and second because he is always correct about his readings of her. Influenced by these reasons she castoffs his marriage proposal and estranges herself.

The plot progresses with naughty love story between Taimur and Chandini. She could not herself comprehend her strong feelings towards him until circumstances compel her to consider him as an approaching life-partner. The story takes an attention-grabbing twirl as her father returns making her dream (to reunite with him), a reality. Circumstances twist as he too has a groom’s proposal for his dear daughter. After all, why everybody is after her to get married? This question leads way to several correlated ones.

Why is her father back? Why does he want her to get married? Now, she has to decide between the father’s handpicked groom on one side and Broad’s chosen Alpha male on another. What will she decide for her? Are her father intentions as pious as she had thought of? Will her father be able to win her faith? Is there any hidden agenda? Will she fall prey to her father’s scheme? Will Taimur be able to make Chandini admit her love for him? Alternatively, will she be finally successful in convincing Kunwar to think about her proposal? You need to read novella and check by yourself.

This novella is blustery-fable woven with endearing characters and well-crafted dialogues. Zeenat wins accolades for describing the glamorous 1970s era with ease and yet perfectly managing the historic essence much required in the story. Her writing skills are best displayed in her ability to present such a heavy loaded story in the form of a short and succinct novella. Her writing style is engaging and exhibits her excellent command over language.

Highly recommended to acquaint yourselves with the charm of Nawabs and Pakistani culture.

About the Characters

–          Chandini: is a twenty-two year old beauty with brains. She is an abandoned child with traits of rich legacy in her attitude. She is a strong character who is witty, stubborn but lovable at the same time.

–          Zaitoon Baigum: is a domineering grandmother balancing her age-old poise with elegance. She is the widow of Nawab of Jalalabad.

–          Kunwar: is the man whom Chandini loves despite the fact that he is twice as old as her age.

–          Taimur: is a son of a family friend. He is much like a charmer whom every woman should long for as her husband.

–          Zafar: is Chandini’s half-brother. He is the one with whom she share her agony of being abandoned.


Abandoned by her father, C. is brought up by her domineering, intractable grandmother, whom she privately refers to as ‘The Broad’. Raised in the closed environs of a haveli in Jalalabad, C. is rebellious, quick-witted and a self-proclaimed cynic. So, when The Broad presents her with the ‘suitable’ Taimur as a possible husband, C. isn’t too happy with the arrangement, no matter how gorgeous ‘Alpha Male’ may be. As it happens, the feeling is mutual. Or is it? And when C.’s long lost father enters the scene, things get really complicated…