The book ‘ Passion and Pathos’ is indubitably a fiction encompassing features of journey of a Bangladeshi in varied settings of and through Pakistan and Afghanistan in quest to be an al-Qaeda Mujahedeen. The character, Areem, was from a well to do family of Dhaka with proven academic excellence. His intellectual mindset was always agitated because of paradoxical enigma inexplicably persistent in his life. To escape from unfriendly family locale, to send a message to standoffish father, and to understand the rationale for sustenance of the movement in spite of abhorred negatives, he decided to join al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.
Areem gained adequate exposure and clarity about the genesis of al-Qaeda during his orientation in Pakistan, with focus on Sunni militant philosophies of Salafism and Wahhabism and the origin of Islamic conservatism in pre-partition India. But what astounded him was Afghanistan’s thousands years old history as being the beacon of many faiths and life philosophies.
The abhorred current policy of destruction and killing, as told during induction process as well experienced while participating in operation, anguished and bewildered him.
During the journey process, Areem stayed in Panjshir, developed romantic relationship with a local girl, Gul Meher. That was almost a repetition of what his grandfather from Afridi tribe of Pakistan did during WWII as an injured infantry brought to Calcutta hospital from Burma front. He fell in love with the attending Hindu nurse, Purnima, and overcame impediments of race and faith through passion and commitment.
The end part was not the same. Gul Meher conceived. Sharia law is very strict concerning pre-marital sex. So Areem was asked to flee by Gul Meher’s mother as an alternative of stoning to death. Gul Meher was considered safe being in the process to leave for USA as an immigrant. They promised not to die before being united. During journey back to Bangladesh, Areem was picked up by US army near Bagram air base as a suspect terrorist. For ordained reasons, the army commander of the torture center took interest in Areem as a test case for alternative to torture, and convinced authorities for his education opportunity in US to achieve life’s ambition to be a medical professional as his mother died without any diagnosis when he was five.
Both Ameer and Gul Meher eventually got united, along with their son, with full passion but pathos soon overtook the setting.