When Nida loses her brother in an army helicopter crash, her life spirals in every direction, making her sink deeper into the dark-hole she’s trying to escape. A student of Economics at Lahore College, she desperately tries to piece together her life, and as her family tries to recover from the tragedy, Nida struggles to find a place she could finally be at peace. Belonging to a middle class family, and searching for a different kind of ‘high’ she finds herself being drawn to the life of the elite. Slowly, her dull-boring middle class life sees a new light where partying, drinking, smoking in AC bathrooms, and often passing out till the next morning seem to be the order of the day.
She starts hanging out with Omer, son of Iftikhar Ali, the right-hand man of the current PM of Pakistan, Salim Chaudhary. Omer with his sense of entitlement, power, and inability to form stable relationships is highly impressed by Nida, and her joint rolling skills, and immediately latches onto her, happy to have a new project he could work on till he gets bored. He introduces Nida to the his friends, his posh life, and of course to all kinds of nasha.
RJ Bugsy, our second protagonist, through which we see Lahore in a new light, develops feelings for Nida but keeps it to himself. He is the son of a retired Army officer, but does not conform to the standards set upon him by his father. He hosts one of the nation’s top radio shows, and is obsessed with Freddie Mercury. However, his association with a long lost friend, Moby, puts him in a compromising situation. What seemed like a small favour ultimately leads him to the dark alleys of Pakistani politics.
Nadia’s descriptions and her unconventional and rather bold writing style is truly refreshing and unheard of. Her satire into the lives of the rich, the middle class, and general day-to day issues are remarkable. Set in the time when general elections in Pakistan are in full force, and the spirits are high, the author, creates her own little world through Nida and Bugsy, trying to fit into the society, often failing.
Despite the writing, there was something very unsettling about our main protagonist, Nida. She was being dragged from one place to the other by her pompous bf Omer, who treated her no less than a toy he’d discard. Nida tried very hard to ‘not be like other girls’ but it was pretty cliche, and boring.
However, as the story progressed, I could feel something missing in terms of plot development. There was a moment of nothingness, and then BAM. The ending had me shook. I didn’t anticipate such a dramatic climax. I don’t think I was mentally prepared for it, and I still don’t think I am over it. But looking at it closely, I realize why it was important. I wish there was more to the story; it somehow seemed too rushed and incomplete.
All in all, Goodbye Freddie Mercury is energetic, refreshing and a bold account of fiction that’s going to make you laugh, and also revel at the reality of it all.
Author: Nadia Akbar
Publisher: Penguin India