“Markhor – in search of the unseen” is an adventure fiction book published by Youth Impact in 2021. The book aims to provide young Pakistani and international readers an adventurous
journey towards their own self-discovery.
The books objective is to provide a self-help platform for young readers, while at the same
time, in a subtle way, promote the positive values, cultures, people and lifestyle of Pakistan.
The book features four main young characters and one seasoned wise mentor. The characters
include Chris, a young American from San Francisco, Deniz from Turkey, Hafsa from Lahore,
Pakistan and Zainab from Islamabad, Pakistan. They are mentored and guided by a 60+ years
old Tariq Siddiqi, who helps them find meaning behind happenings.
Four youngsters travel to the Hindukush range in Chitral to find Markhor and do their academic
research and in the entire winter spent in Chitral, they couldn’t spot a Markhor while they got
to discover their inner Markhor.
Chris is a lost kid who is searching for meaning and purpose in life. His personality is highly
affected with the domestic violence, conflict between his mom and dad, which impacted his
own life. He considers life as a curse. He hates his family. He is living a reactionary life, which
has no reason of existence. He had gone through suicidal thoughts many times in his past life.
He joined this expedition just to run away from his family and his worries back home. He is
looking for soul freedom. He is genius and solution oriented, assertive and smart mind person.
He voices out his opinions and concerns easily. His family is also concerned about him going to
Pakistan where they believe Pakistan is terrorist’s hub and the country is undergoing a war.
Hafsa – A very self-centered ambitious girl. Very articulate, an activist who is clear about her
mission in life. Who believes in and practices her faith with full conviction. She is a fighter and
believes in to strive for what is right. Hafsa, being upset by Lahore’s smog, decides to play her
part by pursuing her higher degree in Environmental Science at Stanford. Her family doesn’t
approve her going alone to US while she being a stubborn in nature, didn’t comply and goes to
US against their will. Maintains an aura of very upbeat and confident girl. But only does she
know that she is always on guard. As she faces a deep drench in her own self where she despite
knowing everything and being clear on her mission feels lost. A depression where she sinks in
and feels she has lost all her real connections. Her prayers feel meaningless and shallow. She
yearns for that warmth and love that she misses in her life because her parents are not happy
with her. Hafsa is someone with strong personality, lacks empathy and compassion, which
always affect her relationship.
Deniz – Born and raised in a mountainous village of Turkey he is very close to nature. Loves his
parents a lot and obeys them in every manner possible. Due to being shy naturally never has
been able to express his feelings for his parents though he yearns to share it. This emotional
block has always made him fear to take any decisive steps in life. Also, he has never been able
to speak up for something he believed in. He also stays in continuous conflict within, where he
does not want to leave his old parents alone and yet he has to go out of his village to fulfill all
the dreams and hopes of his parents.
All he needs is; a voice to express his emotions, to speak up for what he believes is right and
make some bold decisions, and conviction that it is essential to have roots and wings!
Zainab – She is a person who is very logical and wants to understand the reason and spirit of
everything. She is not kind of person whom you tell to wear scarf and she will obey. She is kind
of a Sufi soul who believes that appearances do not matter which is very reason she dresses up
in a casual western dresses. Her soul is always tormented by the fact that people around her
believe in appearance and rituals that they forget the true spirit of Islam which is peace and
love. She wants to define her life in her own terms. Despite of having a sound family, she is self-made person who believes in hard work and discipline. Her connection with Allah is deep but
lacks the discipline of it. She believes in prayers because that’s where she is talking to Allah who
is her Friend but then she finds it hard to understand the wisdom of all the practices of Islam.
This conflict between the physical and spiritual world is her quest to find her true way of life,
which she gets in this journey.
The story starts from the childhood memory of Deniz in Kackar Mountains of Turkey, where his
primary school teacher tells the class about Markhor and since then this young kid gets lost in
the magnificence of this creature.
The story travels fast and stays for a while at Stanford University, where Deniz, Chris and Hafsa
are brainstorming about their Environmental Sciences Project and finally they agree to do their
research on Markhor. They get a grant from Stanford to travel to Pakistan.
At Islamabad airport, they are welcomed by Zainab, and both foreigners couldn’t believe what
they see in terms of a modern airport, warm people, peaceful Islamabad city and all that.
They travel to Chitral under the guidance of Siddiqi sahib and spend few days with a local
Chitrali host. The entire experience of hospitality, serene nature, simple life, prayers and
spirituality of the locals surprises the young crew.
The crew leaves the town for upper Chitral, where the snowfall starts and one after another,
they face challenging situations. In a turbulent expedition of more than a month, they couldn’t
find Markhor. But all these experiences and circumstances help each individual find answers to
their inner questions.
They are happy to return homes without spotting Markhor as they had find something more
valuable – the self.