Do you believe in God? If you do, do you believe in the concept of Paradise and Hell? A.K. Asif in his book, Hell! No Saints in Paradise, is about one such man, Ismael who refutes this concept of paradise and hell and is doing research and writing a paper for dissertation on the same topic. One fine evening, in the year 2050, he meets a beautiful girl in New York who urges him to open his mind to various possibilities and convinces him to go to YegaYaga Centre for Ayahuasca where he would be able to glimpse some truth. Ismael is intrigued and goes to the Centre where he has a vision of an old man on bicycle. The man calls himself Chacha Khidr and tells Ismael to go to Pakistan, where his fate was waiting for him. On his return home in Manhattan, he finds a letter, flight tickets to Lahore, money and a box with polio vaccine waiting for him. Thus, he starts his journey back home on an unknown adventure. Once he lands in Pakistan, he finds the people delusional and their behavior is erratic at best. People are ready to cut others’ throats at the slightest religious fault in the hope to gain paradise. On his first night in Lahore, he meets Chacha Khidr and Pir Pul Siraat and he is guided towards his role to help them save earth and Paradise.
A.K. Asif has created a future world where zealots are in abundance and their actions can have detrimental effects all over the world. The visualization of a war affected country is perfect and so is the characterization. Our Hero is a non-believer whose views are shattered as he crosses hell on his way to Paradise. Ismael has his own limitations and weaknesses and the author has done a commendable job in not making him a perfect man. The story is good, moves quickly and you will be sucked in right from the start. But, towards the end, the story becomes a little convoluted. I felt that the climax could have been written in a better way. Apart from that, it’s a good weekend read.
My rating: 3/5