The Boy Refugee

The Boy Refugee: A Memoir from a Long-Forgotten War by Dr. Khawaja Azimuddin,

Reviewed by Danita Dyess

In The Boy Refugee: A Memoir from a Long-Forgotten War by Dr. Khawaja Azimuddin, he chronicles the devastating effects of the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971. Back then, Azimuddin, a Pakistani, was only eight years old. His detailed account of the civil unrest chronicles two years of emotional, economical, familial, and political upheaval. About 100,000 Prisoners of War were entangled in a never-ending battle between the Bangladeshis and their quest for independence and the Pakistanis who have assumed total control. Purchase Here.

Azimuddin had two older siblings – his sister, Maliha Apa and brother, Khusro Bhaijan. His mother, Ammi, was the daughter of an influential civil servant. Their spacious home was surrounded by a pond and trees filled with bananas, apples, and coconuts.

His father, Pappa, had been educated in India. Now he was a bishari, upper class group of society. Pappa worked as a plant manager for Adamjee Jute Mills, the world’s largest manufacturer of jute and cotton products. He oversaw the Bengali workers, the poor class residing in shantis. The two classes are about to erupt in a war. Why?

The boy that liked to play cricket, ride his bike, and pet his pigeon, Kabooter, explains. He says the history of the two factions began when the East and West Pakistan were separated by geography. When the British left, two countries formed – Muslims represented Pakistan (Bengalis) and Hindus represented India. Now the Pakistani army killed mill workers. So the mukti bahini murdered Pakistani officers and civilians.

So the story unfolds with Abdul, a loyal servant of Azimuddin’s family suddenly leaves. He had heard about the slaughtering of five Bengali men. Also, Mujibar Rahman was a political leader who won the election but was denied the presidency. The Awami League supported him and protested the conditions. Bengali workers vacated their jobs at the mill.

But this is just the beginning. Other accounts of civic unrest spread rapidly and foreshadowed ominous events. The People’s Party gained 81 parliamentary seats. Rallies and labor strikes were breaking out daily. While riding his bike from work, Pappa was confronted by angry Bengali workers; he started driving to protect himself from danger.

On December 3, 1971, loud sirens and blackouts alert the family of war. They flee for safety to find refuge with a German UN worker and in tent cities, the Kilo Camps.

The author acts as a journalist and teacher. As a reporter, he conveys the facts of the atrocity. But most importantly, he wants you to know that during challenging circumstances, the love of your family can help you summon the courage and sheer determination you never knew you had. You can change your mind and form friends that were enemies previously. Always act with compassion.

The cover picture of a boy sitting on a suitcase with travel-related drawings was apt. The use of foreign terms, e.g., Namack pore and sooji la halwa as well as the historical accounts transported me to faraway places.

The dialogue spoken between Pappa and Ammi showed the quiet power of a devoted mother. The conversation between Mr. Rauf and Mr. Huq were thought provoking. References to Kissinger and Nixon were insightful.

This work of nonfiction conveyed the gamut of human emotions – childlike joy, disappointment, confusion, fear, love, and hate.

The pace for the 160-page book was fast. Photographs of the family and his green suitcase made the story real. The maps illustrated the role of geography.

Dr. Khawaja Azimuddin is a board-certified gastro-intestinal surgeon who specializes in robotic surgery. He has practiced medicine for 20+ years and currently sees patients at Houston Colon and Rectal Surgery. He has written numerous research articles and surgical reference books. His hobby is calligraphy that includes verses from the Quran placed on tiles. His work appears at the Pearl Fincher Museum of Fine Art.

This memoir is Azimuddin’s first book. I would recommend The Boy Refugee to anyone who wants to be inspired and enjoys history and international politics.

Hush, Hush

Hush, Hush: A Ronnie Lake Mystery by Niki Danforth

Reviewed by Dianne Woodman

Hush, Hush is an exciting and fast-paced cozy mystery with an intriguing opening, mushrooming tension, imaginative red herrings, scintillating dialogue, brilliant character arcs, a jaw-dropping climax, and an amazing and satisfying twist ending. With a hint of political subterfuge, power struggles among law enforcement agencies, and a tenacious private investigator with martial arts skills, Hush, Hush is a teeth-chattering mystery that keeps readers’ eyes glued to every single word with anticipation. Purchase Here.

Hush, Hush is told from the perspective of the main character, Ronnie Lake, a newly licensed private investigator. Ronnie takes on the case of a missing female college student, and her strong and brave German Shepherd, Warrior, participates in the investigation. Even though Ronnie has past experience using her private investigator skills, this case is proving challenging. Ronnie runs into roadblocks, both external and internal, in her search for the missing student. Is the young woman a runaway or a kidnap victim? Is she dead or alive? As the days go by, the investigation into the unexplained disappearance of a seemly happy individual leads to far more sinister ramifications. Will Ronnie solve the case before life-threatening dangers escalate out of control?

Niki Danforth pulls readers into the characters’ lives, and each of the characters’ feelings and reactions to the circumstances, either of their own making or ones out of their control, in which they find themselves are realistically portrayed. The intriguing and emotionally appealing characters ring true for readers by the characters’ interactions with each other in believable ways that will resonate with readers. Ronnie, the resilient and endearing central character, is confronted with real life crises, is an animal lover, a fan of James Bond, and an avid listener of rock and roll music. Well-written and engrossing action scenes grip readers in the emotion of the moment and allow readers to live vicariously through the characters.

Danforth does a wonderful job of depicting the setting of the story that takes place in New Jersey. The use of sensory description in this mystery adds to the overall appeal. An entertaining book that readers will not want to put down until they reach the final page. Hush, Hush, the fourth book in A Ronnie Lake Mystery Series, can be read, understood, and enjoyed without having to read any other books in the series. However, this book will hook readers into wanting to read the first three novels and leave readers looking forward to the next installment.