Among My Own: The Untold Stories of My People

Reflection of Society

By Syed Khalid Hassan | May 2023

Based in Karachi, Dr. Naseem Salahuddin is a physician and a specialist in the field of infectious dieses. She is associated both with Liaquat National Hospital and Aga Khan University Hospital, and is part of the faculty of Medicine and Infectious Diseases at the Indus Hospital and Health Network. With these credentials on her, she has travelled a lot and has decades of experiences under her belt, hence making her a great story teller.

The book ‘Among My Own: The Untold Stories of My People’ by Dr. Naseem Salahuddin is a compilation of anecdotes of her patients and people she met in her travels. As a physician she not only diagnoses medical problems, but dissects into the lives of people understanding the complex situations they are in.

With this book Dr. Naseem Salahuddin informs, evokes emotion and opens the reader’s eyes to the actuality of how bound humans are to culture and society.

The idea of this book was to appraise the untold stories of people; moreover her claiming the people as her own makes it more personal, as all her stories are meaningful and from a place of compassion. As most short stories have a moral lesson, she gives the readers more to think about life and privilege.

Each story covers a diverse topic or issue, and the beauty of the book is that it can be opened to any page and still captivate the reader, making the book a real page turner, not like a cliché empowerment book highlighting the same themes just to get a point across. This book is a memoir having raw conversations and encounters from Dr. Salahuddin’s observations, making the reader see the world through her eyes using a simplistic yet descriptive and informative writing style. The use of local vocabulary is well used as certain things lose its value when translated.

Through her stories she highlights the complexities of society raging from peasantry, marriage, consequences of not living a healthy life and contrasting different cultures, especially the Western to Pakistani. All of these issues are compared through the different class groups; the rich have their problems in over indulgence, whereas the poor are not aware of the nature of how their choices have consequences as well as leave all their pain and suffering to spirituality and ‘Allah Sayeen’.

Dr. Salahuddin perfectly paints her thoughts, trying to diagnose a patient while describing the psyche of the people. Dr. Salahuddin portrays the paranoia and the emotions her patients feel, evoking empathy in the reader. Her training on listening and observing the tiniest of details visualizes the entire story from an external perspective to the inner thoughts of the characters.

This book is an embodiment of the author’s personality and is a call to action. As her hard work in teaching should not be limited to her student, the reader should be enlightened and carry a moral obligation in helping evolve and address taboos in a much censored society. It is very evident that this book was published not to entertain or inform, but to create empathy as well as recognize every single individual in society.

Even though this book is compiled all the way from the 1980s and 90s, very little has changed in Pakistani society, making this book a must read for everyone.