Review of a novella written by Mehreen Ahmed
The central theme of Moirae is hope. Set against a backdrop of poverty, laden with a sense of helplessness from living under an autocratic, tyrannical regime, Nalia struggles to come to terms with the loss of her newly-wed husband after he’s arrested for profiteering. There follows a disturbing, yet familiar and sometimes dream-like narrative on human oppression which is cleverly woven into the lives of the characters that helps bring each of their stories to life.
Although unfamiliar with the stream of consciousness style of writing, I began to find myself feeling as though I were reading the author’s unedited thoughts which gave it a strange kind of authenticity. There are some colourful and poetic descriptive passages which help provide a vivid sense of place, like ‘West Mountains stood in the backdrop, with all its alluring blue haze; the clouds floated straight into its summits. Craggy and green, the stalwart peaks stood the ravages of time’.
Mehreen is clearly a deep thinker and Moirae is an ambitious book with many historical and literary references. There’s some interesting nuggets of wisdom buried in the narrative, such as ‘Life’s journey was at odds. It could pass without fully understanding exactly what we were supposed to do here; what paths to take and what the cosmic plan of our existence meant’. Moirae, however, is not an easy read in terms of the reality of the difficult themes the book contends with. But, despite this, there is an overriding sense of hope – hope for an end to the violence and killing, hope of an end to hunger, hope to be in control of one’s own destiny and the hope for love in all its forms.
For life to have any worth or meaning, there has to be hope. The following sentence towards the end of the book captures this point perfectly: ‘However aspirations, dreams were some of the most powerful components that also held life from falling apart. They propelled life towards the fulfilment of a destiny’.