Transcending the boundaries, and building a hub of blended and hybridized cultures of East and West, has been a pivotal theme in most of the Pakistani English fiction. Pakistani English fiction writers have powerfully transcended the boundaries and limits associated with the conventional modes of writing. They have moved on to dismantle the classic traditions of writings, and attempted to amalgamate the cultures of both east and west, in front of the reader to build a fluid and vibrant new world.
Lara Zuberi’s The Lost Pearl is one of those novels. It depicts the life of a Pakistani girl, Sana Shah, who had undergone a traumatic experience after witnessing the death of her father. The young Pakistani girl then moves to a completely opposite Western culture in California where she builds a new life and a career for her.
The use of Urdu words such as “doa”, “rotti’ “zindagi” and “desi” within an English novel is an extremely powerful tool to assert the importance of the heritage and local culture of Pakistan. Instead of following the conventional Westernized style and themes of writing which are associated with a Western culture, Lara Zuberi goes on to signify the importance of one’s own heritage, thus, being able to transcend the boundaries through her writing style which is highly captivating.
The novel is a beautiful saga of relationships, cultures, feelings and belongingness. Through Sana, we see a relatable world unfold right before us. The conflicting feelings, trauma, culture shock, nostalgia and the desire to find “home” in this fluid world is beautifully depicted in this novel which makes it an absolute delight to read. As a reader, you feel the loss with Sana and with her you feel yourself to grow as the novel progresses. So Zuberi has done a commendable job writing it.
As we read through the lines, we find out that the young girl is extremely haunted by the traumatic experience over the loss of her father whom she later realizes as a “lost pearl” for her. The lost pearl has a poignant theme which symbolizes the Pakistani heritage that includes norms, values and most importantly language which has gone an erasure, as Lara Zuberi herself narrates how she missed her old life in Pakistan after she had got married and left Pakistan.
Thus, Lara Zuberi significantly tries to knit the old beliefs and the local culture to the new Westernized life to assert the need to believe in one’s own identity that is deeply rooted in a specific local heritage. Therefore, she tries to instead ‘vocalize’ the suppressed heritage of Pakistan under the dominance of Western hegemony as she says through her beautiful words: “Silence can be golden, but remember silence is as bad as a lie if it is used to hide the truth … these are things. Never cry over them, never fight with others for them. The happiness things bring does not last, and people think that when the happiness fades, they need more things, not realizing that it’s not going to last either, because this kind of happiness doesn’t touch the soul.”.
In a nutshell, Zuberi has wonderfully tried to captivate her readers through a beautiful life story written about common characters to whom we can associate ourselves with, and it thus, heals our thoughts by her wisely written words and triggers our emotions as we experience the life young girl Sana Shah has been through. Truly, The Lost Pearl is a highly precious book and a must-read novel for those who love reading Pakistani fiction.