Drums of Change: A Review of Fauzia Rafique’s The Adventures of SahebaN

Being a Canadian woman writer of European descent, I came into Fauzia Rafique’s The Adventures of SahebaN without background knowledge of the role (Mirza) Sahiba plays in much of traditional Punjabi culture. The beauty of Rafique’s text however, is how my lack does not impact my understanding of how the narrative turns a cultural model for perfection (Sahiba) on her head to showcase the flaws of that very perfection, and (in particular) to show that a woman can be honourable, and pure, and loyal, without bowing to the restrictive ideas and expectations that society and religion place upon her.

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Narcotic

I’m one of the lucky ones. I mean, I never got hooked.

Could’ve happened of course, that’s always a danger when you’re a Trader. Got a whole supply at my fingertips, could tap in anytime I want–be like those kingpins over there, rattling their yellow teeth my way, hopped up on the stuff, eyes crazy. But that’s not my style. A Trader’s gotta be fair, has to be clean. If he ain’t he’ll just be pushing for his own benefit. That’s not what it’s about, you know? It’s about helping people.

I’ve been doing this a long time, know all the tricks. That’s why I can call this side of town my own; everyone comes to me. They know I’ll be good to them, that I won’t cheat. I’m running a good thing, here. Got drop points all over the place, a few Runners and a couple of Recruiters. Good ones too. But they all know I’ve only got one rule: don’t get hooked and I’ll keep paying. Get hooked, and I’ll make sure you pay double-double. 

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Valley View’s Dead

“Think that one looks fresher than the others?” I flick my cigarette at a grave to my left. Both of us watch as the cherry fades into the yellowing sod.

“What’s the name?”

“Hughes, 1943 to 1987,” I say.

Nicholas gives the stone angel a kick. The priest at the bottom of the hill stops mid-eulogy and scolds us with a brief silence. A few black-laden mourners notice the pause and begin looking around strangely, unaware of the priest’s line of sight.

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