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The Blind Man's Garden

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The blind man of the book’s title is Rohan, Jeo’s father. Aslam lyrically combines Rohan’s degenerating eyesight with his continuing grief over his late wife, who used to sketch drawings of their beloved garden. “Preparing himself for blindness he commits everything to memory as she committed everything to paper, painting the garden’s flowers and birds onto his mind … The limes and the acacia trees seemed to mourn her, the rosewood and the Persian lilacs, the peepal and the corals, and all their different fruits, berries and spores, the seeds tough as cricket balls, or light enough to remain afloat for half an hour.” 

Later, his daughter-in-law Naheed applies paint to the garden’s flowers, the newfound vividness increasing their visibility for a now nearly blind Rohan.

However, Rohan and Naheed face a more pressing problem: the fate of Mikal. When Mikal returns from Afghanistan – where Jeo has died in circumstances Aslam deliberately leaves unclear – he is a fugitive from the US army, two of whose members he killed when he thought they were about to execute instead of release him.

Mikal wants to stay in Heer and marry Naheed, but improbably decides to return to Peshawar, where he sought refuge after escaping Afghanistan. A member of the family that sheltered him there shows up in Heer being pursued by the law and asks him to deliver money to his sister. Once Mikal sets off, Aslam snips the last thread tying his story to reality by having him come into contact with the vengeful brother of one of the two US soldiers he killed.

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