March 20

From another point of view… Mahtab’s Story

mahtabThe plight of refugees is often in the headlines – and often for the wrong reasons. Thus, it was interesting to read this tale from Libby Gleeson, which reflects many of the feelings of families of war-torn countries who flee for a better life.

You can imagine that the decision to leave your homeland is not one taken lightly, and it can be fraught with great dangers, disappointments and frustrations. But faced with the alternatives of the ongoing conflict and daily struggles for survival, many families take on these challenges, risking life and limb (and complete family savings) to find a better place to live.

Libby Gleeson was privileged to meet some young girls who had already faced many devastating  situations in their homeland, and who are survivors of their refugee struggle – this could be part of their tale…

“Two weeks crouched and hiding, body rigid, waiting every minute for the loud bangs that might come on the cabin wall. Two weeks of fear, of the ice stone in the belly, of holding your breath, of whispering, of blocking from your mind everything you know or have heard of what they can do. They. Taliban. The whip-carrying men in black turbans. The ones who had been cruel to her father, to Grandpa…” (pp. 21-22)

Mahtab and her family begin their journey away from the troubles of Afghanistan in the back of a truck, beneath heavy furniture and sacks of grain, as the truck lurches towards the mountains and Pakistan – their first safe haven. Once there, their struggles have only just begun as her father is told: “you must go first… it is better that way.”

Will he go? After all, Mahtab thinks, their survival so far had relied on the fact that they were together. And if her father goes ahead, how long might they wait for him? Will they be safe – a woman with no man to protect her in an unfamiliar city? Will they ever see him again? And where will they ultimately find a home?

Mahtab’s story is based on the true story of a couple of refugee girls Libby met at a Western Sydney high school. She has captured some of the horrors they faced, the multitude of feelings common as they flee, and, using Mahtab’s thoughts, she reveals how it might well be for many, many young children who have simply been born in the wrong (war-torn) location. Lots of food for thought.

See Libby discussing the beginnings of her book here:


Posted March 20, 2011 by Linda J in category Reviews

About the Author

This blog is to share ideas and comments about books and reading.

1 thoughts on “From another point of view… Mahtab’s Story

  1. kenny wu

    This tragic story is an everyday situation for refugees trying to escape from their war torn country. Libby Gleeson has successfully managed to capture this perfectly. This story of a girl called Mahtab, his brother Farhad and his mum who had wanted to travel all the way from their corrupted country to a peaceful one like Australia. They used a countless of different vehicles to smuggle themselves into Australia. Including by Boat, van and plane. The people that are behind the smuggling charges a lot of money and obviously money is high demand between the refugees as most of the don’t have much at all. Life is not at all beautiful when you are on the run. Also they have the constant fear of being caught the police. They mostly had to bribe their way through. When they arrived in Australia they realized that life isn’t perfect at all.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*