Inside Fiza's bookstore

Inside Fizas bookstore
Rehana Munirs

Rehana Munir’s ‘Paper Moon’ is the story of Fiza, who starts a bookstore as per the last wish of her late father whom she hasn't even seen

Most of us die without leaving a valid will behind! Some script a perfect document or utter an oral wish even before their death and their kith and kin make their wish come true. In one case,a son fulfills his father's last wish by taking him to his graduation ceremony, in another case a granddaughter takes her granny to her favourite seashore for one last time. A single father suffering from a terminal disease feels happy when his last wish of finding caretakers for his 4-year-old son comes true. It touches our hearts when the kith and kin of a zoo employee carry him on a stretcher to the zoo to make him fulfill his last wish of caressing the animals that he has fed for years.The hospital staff allow an octogenarian to hug his pet dog for one last time on his death bed.It is true, last wishes and longing lingering looks leave lasting impressions on us.

Fiza is a committed daughter who starts a bookstore as per the last wish of her late father whom she hasn't even seen.

The novel opens with a scene at St.Xavier's college, Mumbai where Fiza Khalid,sitting in an English literature class,feels it is terribly boring, and waste of time. When the class ends,Fiza heads towards the lending library which, she thinks, is "less a place for the wise than the wayward." She goes there for her heart throb, Dhruv, waiting amidst books and musty aisles.Time seems endless for these young lovers who together enjoy things like bunking classes, eating out, going to movies, playing cricket and all such beautiful things in the carefree, charmed college life.Like many Literature students, Fiza is a great lover of books and a voracious reader.

One day D K Batliwala, a friend of her late father, calls Fiza to tell her that her father Iqbal has left behind a handsome fortune for her to fulfill his unrealized wish of starting a bookstore in Mumbai.He gives Fiza all kind advice, affection, and also helps her in finding a suitable building for the bookstore.But Noor, Fiza's singer motheris for spending the money on some other useful thing.

When the store is ready, Fiza names it as "Paper Moon", a term taken from a song Noor has sung for the play,' A Streetcar Named Desire'.(In the movie,'Paper Moon' of 70s, real-life father and daughter have played the lead roles and this might also be a source for the title and the story line.The movie is based on the novel "Addie Pray" and after the release of the movie, the novel was retitled as "Paper Moon").Thebookstore ushers in a new chapter in Fiza's life.With the passage of time, Fiza becomes more and more busy with the book business,adding new attractions and trappings to cater to all sections of readers.

The store is Fiza's new world filled with new energy and excitement and it also opens doors for new relationships and new challenges and how she grapples with them all is the story Rehana tells us with great ease and aplomb.

Like Fiza, Rehana was also an alumnus of St Xavier college and had run a bookshop in Mumbai after getting an MA in English Literature.This aura of autobiographical streak the author seems to dilute by narrating the story in the third person.

In this maiden novel Rehana has successfully created one character which borders almost on the complexity of the character of Elizabeth Bennet in "Pride and Prejudice". Though the use of idiom and character delineation reflect Rehana's writing prowess as a journalist and columnist and make the reader expect a lot from her, it is essentially a novel of FizaKhalid and it makes a good read.

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