Adam Siddiq pairs with his grandfather Khaled Siddiq to tell the harrowing yet resilient story of Khaled after the coup toppling Afghanistan King Amanullah in 1932. Khaled’s family suffered death, torture and imprisonment for their loyalty to the King. Authorities took the young Khaled, along with his mother, cousins, sisters and aunts, from their comfortable upper class existence and placed them under strict house arrest in cramped, dingy homes. Guards watched their every move. Khaled and his cousins were educated in secret. As the boys grew into men, the ruling regime sent them to Dehmazang prison, where they languished for years as political prisoners. Yet, through it all, Khaled and his cousins maintained hope. Khaled kept love close and hatred at bay. He dreamed of visiting his father, who was in exile in Germany. Khaled looked for something good within the bad, sometimes with only the slightest, fleeting glimpse to be found. In prison, a wise scholar and inmate, Sheikh Balool, tutors Khaled in languages, poetry and philosophy.
Khaled first published the book in Farsi, “From My Memories”. Then, grandson Adam Siddiq listened to his grandfather’s stories, and together they produced the well crafted and engrossing SHACKLED. Adam’s prose draws in the reader to this harrowing yet redemptive story. Every page, despite descriptions of horrendous suffering, exudes Khaled’s optimism and his fight to protect the love in his heart in the face of evil.
The days and months turn into years. Eventually, Khaled and the remaining men in his family are released from prison, and the women released from house arrest. But, the regime continues to restrain the family, and tragedy continues to strike. As the regime shifts and changes, Khaled and his family gain small freedoms little by little. He keeps focused on his dream to visit his father, enduring constant rejection as he navigates Afghanistan’s endless bureaucracy.
This wonderfully told and smartly written story of family, hope and love never flinches from the cruelty that humans endure. Yet, the underlying theme of hope, of persistence, of simply carrying on and finding good within the bad, underscores the simple human desire to live free.
SHACKLED: A JOURNEY FROM POLITICAL IMPRISONMENT TO FREEDOM inspires and reminds the world that even in darkness there is light to be found.
~Greg Rideout for IndieReader