Summary of The Blind Man’s Garden

Summary of The Blind Man’s Garden chronicles the story of Rohan’s family in the aftermath of America’s war against terror. The first part ‘Footnotes to Defeat starts with the description of the garden house where a widowed old man named Rohan is living with his young son Jeo and daughter-in-law Naheed. The Novel is the best example of Trauma Fiction.

It’s been a year, that Jeo and Naheed are married. The story starts with a description of the house, which is called a garden because of the setting which is similar to a garden full of plants and birds.


Summary of The Blind Man’s Garden

When the story starts Rohan is wandering in the garden and receives a visitor, a bird pardoner who is requesting to put his cages of birds in the house which is accepted.


It is October 2011 and America is causing havoc in Afghanistan with its so-called war against terror. Jeo is enthusiastic to help the wounded people in the war because he is a medical student soon to be a doctor. He goes to the Jihad camp to arrange a trip to Peshawar to help the migrants from Afghanistan. Rohan is also planning to go with him.

At the camp, he meets Mikal who was once adopted by Rohan and now working as a weapon repairer in the camp. Mikal and Jeo are foster brothers because they spent their childhood together. Mikal disappeared when Jeo was married to Naheed. Actually, Mikal and Naheed were in love and planning to get married.


But Mikal was shamed by Naheed’s mother Tara how can he deceive his foster brother Jeo and adopting his father. Besides he is financially weak and is living in a single-room house. Mikal has a brother Basie who is married to Yasmine, the daughter of Rohan.

Summary of The Blind Man’s Garden


The story moves on and Mikal has decided to go with Jeo because he knows that the journey is full of dangers. One night Jeo and Rohan set out for Peshawar by train, Mikal is also aboard but distant from Rohan.

Jeo is planning to flee to Afghanistan and he has not his father about this venture. In Peshawar, they were stuck in traffic because of a rally that was held against America’s invasion of Afghanistan and the crowd becomes violent.

With great difficulty, they reach the hospital where Jeo asks his father to wait in the hospital and secretly flees with Mikal to Afghanistan. The traveling is arranged by the camp he met earlier.

The scene is shifted to Ardent Spirit, an organization which is located in the garden house of Rohan which was owned by Ahmad the Moth, the brother of Major Kyra.

Ahmad the Moth is killed in Afghanistan two weeks ago and now Major Kyra is owning the place and planning to dispel Rohan and his family from the house because Rohan is against the extremist activities of Ardent Spirit who are recruiting the young Pakistani boys to fight against Americans.

In fact, Major Kyra has planned to send Jeo in the middle of the war in Afghanistan so that he can get revenge on Rohan. Mikal and Jeo are traveling with other people in Afghanistan but they are left by the vehicle in the mountains.

Summary of The Blind Man’s Garden

Mikal is certain that they have been befooled but Jeo is still hopeful. They were captured by the local warlord who considered them American spies. But the place is raided in which Mikal and Jeo are captured as prisoners.

Back in Peshawar, Rohan waits for Jeo in the hospital and then searches for him in different corridors. He is told by a doctor that Jeo has left for Afghanistan with Mikal. Rohan is disillusioned that Mikal has taken his son to Jihad.

In retrospect, we have a glimpse of Rohan’s family background. He was married to Sofia who was an active lady but died without any faith. This is his biggest regret, that he could not make his wife repent while she was dying. Rohan is a strict believer and his past is haunting that his wife died as unrepentant.

In Afghanistan, Jeo is killed brutally by an American female soldier with a sharp dagger during the raid. His corpse is sent back to Heer. Jeo’s dead body is received in the garden house by Naheed in dramatic circumstances and in this narration, Naheed’s character is revealed in detail. Her father died in her childhood.

She has been raised by single mother Tara, who was raped and could not present the four witnesses of the act and was jailed for adultery. Naheed was then raised in the garden house. The passage also details the blooming of love between Naheed and Mikal who plan to escape because Naheed is not willing to marry Jeo. But on the fixed time Mikal does not show.

Basie and Yasmin are called upon by Rohan Peshawar and they are trying to find Jeo and Mikal. They are unaware of the events unfolding in Heer. Jeo is announced as a martyr in Heer and buried with honor.

Meanwhile, Naheed locks herself in the garden house and is unwilling to meet anyone, mourning the disappearance of Mikal more than the death of her husband.

Fatigued by their wait in Peshawar, Rohan, Basie, and Yasmin decides to return to Heer and telephoned back home to inform their arrival but no one answered the call. When they were about to enter the town they met a terrible.

They finally reach home only to find the death of Jeo and the capture of Mikal. The Families are grief-stricken which is enhanced by the demand of Major Kyra that Rohan should leave the garden house because he is not the owner of the house.

The Bird Pardoner returns and tells his tragic story that he could not manage to come in time to fetch his birds because his teenage son was brainwashed by the local extremists to fight and be captured. Now those people are demanding ransom but he has no money.

When he is told that his son’s name is Jeo, Rohan is moved by this and decides to go with him to make arrange the money demanded by the kidnappers. They meet the people who captured Jeo, but the father says the boy was shown by them as not his son.

Summary of The Blind Man’s Garden

So they accompany them into Afghanistan where they finally meet the boy who is severely abused and traumatized. Rohan is disgusted by this crime and faces the warlord with hate. In this turn of events, Rohan lost his eyesight because of the tear gas. The company returns to Heer with Jeo.

In the meantime, it is rumored that Mikal has also been martyred by the Americans and he is buried near Peshawar with honor. His grave is unusually large and is visited by many who think he is the chosen one from the almighty.

The family is also known, but Naheed is not convinced because she still believes that Mikal is alive. Naheed reveals that she is pregnant, which causes a headache for Tara who is planning to marry her off again.

The girl is unwilling to eat anything when she senses that her mother would make her lose her child. The child is in fact of Mikal which is why Naheed is trying to preserve the last token of love from him.

Summary of The Blind Man’s Garden (2nd Part)

The second part ‘The Blind Man’s Garden starts with Mikal being held by the local lord who has ordered him to accompany a father and a son to a distant mountain mosque to steal a holy carpet, but the mosque is raided by the American troops and Mikal is captured as a terrorist.

Still unaware of Jeo’s death, he has been severely tortured by the Americans that his middle fingers are snapped. After a brutal torture, the Americans are certain that he is innocent so they decide to leave him over the place he had been captured, but Mikal is certain that he has been taken there to be killed.

They have been severely attacked from the mosque by the local Taliban, in the chaotic turn of events, Mikal is able to take the pistol from an American soldier and shoots two Americans who accompanying him. Now he is a certified killer of two Americans and his hunt starts.

Rohan is blind with every passing day and Naheed takes him to an eye specialist who happens to be the old student of the school which was run by Sofia. The boy’s mother was condemned by Rohan at that because of being a prostitute.

Summary of The Blind Man’s Garden

The doctor never minds the apology offered by Rohan during his checkup. The doctor details a remedy that is quite costly. In the meantime, Major Kyra demands the evacuation of Rohan and his family. A man named Sharif Sharif is interested in marrying Naheed when he is aware of the difficult situation.

Sharif Sharif is the owner of the rented house in which Naheed’s mother Tara is living. Sharif Sharif is already married and offers to pay the money required for Rohan’s treatment, but he is refused harshly by Rohan.

One day Naheed secretly disappeared and the family is worried about her disappearance. Tara and Basie go to the Police station to report her but they are questioned harshly by the police officer who thinks that she has fled with ‘Yaar’ of her.

He further orders them to report to him when she returns so that he can file a case of adultery against her. Basie is disgusted at this treatment. After eight days, Naheed returns and tells Basie and Yasmin that she had gone to Peshawar to make sure whether Mikal is buried in that grave or not.

She informs them there is nothing in the grave and she believes that Mikal is still alive.  Mikal is now the most wanted terrorist by the Americans and his hunt is printed in the newspaper which is also circulated in Heer where everybody is convinced that he is alive.

Major Kyra is planning a siege of a Christian school in Heer where Basie and Yasmin are teachers. The plan is to make children hostages especially Father Mede, the principal of the school to give a proper reply to America. There are four houses of Ardent Spirit and every house has a leader who is part of the plan.

Summary of The Blind Man’s Garden

The siege is successfully conducted and the whole school is sounded with heavy firing. Father Mede is not located in the house. The terrorists are also looking for Basie and Yasmin to kill because they are related to Rohan who is unwilling to leave the garden house.

After escaping from Afghanistan, it takes Mikal eight days to reach Pakistan, He wanders in the streets of Peshawar where he collapses because of hunger and wounds. When he wakes he is in the company of a young whose name is Akbar.

Akbar was also a prisoner with Mikal. Now he takes him to his place in South Waziristan where he lives in a big painted house attached to a weapon factory. The house is a natural fort that cannot be located easily because of its unique location. The family background of Akbar’s family is told in detail. Mikal is aware of the fact that some of the members of Al-Qaeda are also hiding there.

Mikal also meets Akbar’s sister Salomi who is forcefully married to a person she does not like. The place is raided upon the inside info from the house and Akbar thought that it was Mikal who informed the target. In a state of disillusion, Akbar takes Mikal out of the house where Mikal is able to escape and plan to go to Heer secretly.

The siege of the school lasted for days but eventually, the operation started to kill the terrorists in which Basie was also killed brutally when it was revealed that he was also present in the hostages. Some of the terrorists were able to escape, taking Father Mede with them. The family meets another tragedy in the form of the death of Basie.

Finally, Mikal returns to Heer, to the place he belonged. Nadeem Aslam is at his narrative best when he writes this passage. Secretly Mikal enters the Garden house in the darkness, Naheed senses his presence in the house. He is standing before her but she thinks it’s a ghost.

Summary of The Blind Man’s Garden

He lets her realize that it is he himself. The lovers meet after a long and painstaking moment; in which everything is lost. Mikal is told about the deaths of Jeo and Basie as well as the blindness of Rohan.

They realize the fact that Mikal is the most wanted man on earth and his presence in Heer can cause a problem for the remaining members of the family. Still, the lovers are contented to have met.

Akbar contacts Mikal and requests him to help him to rescue his sister and brother who are in South Waziristan and the place is about to be raided by the Americans. Akbar is planning to escape to Yemen where the family would be safe.

Naheed tells Mikal that she had agreed to marry Sharif Sharif after the death of Basie. Mikal determines to stop the marriage but he has to go to rescue Akbar’s family. He promises to return and sets out on his journey. Before his departure, he is adorned with a necklace by Naheed to make him feel her.

Summary of The Blind Man’s Garden (3rd Part)

Part three ‘Equal Sons’ starts with the return of Mikal to Megiddo, the place where the house is situated. In the house he finds nothing. The house is already raided and it is full of destruction. In the description of the state of the house, Mikal finds nothing but a cub of leopard which is an indication that Salomi was present there recently.

Mikal searches for the family in the mountains and meets a family of servants in the house. He spends a night with them and returns to the house again hoping that Salomi will show up again. Difficult to find Salomi and her husband, Mikal telephones back in Heer and Naveed answers the call and asks whether he is coming back or not. Sharif Sharif is forcing her to marry him. Mikal tells that he will soon arrive at the Garden house after completing his task.

Summary of The Blind Man’s Garden

By chance, in his search for Salomi, he finds an American soldier who is chained and severely wounded. Overwhelmed by his guilt of killing the Americans, Mikal takes the soldier so that he can save his life. In his difficult journey, he faces a number of circumstances in which he saves the life of an American soldier.

He is actually looking for a person who knows English so that he can use the person as an interpreter. Escaping a local check post,  Mikal enters a mosque, where he quickly orders the American soldier to announce his presence at the mosque so that the Americans nearby can rescue him.

After fifteen minutes the helicopters arrive at the scene in heavy gunfire and rescue the American soldier. In exchange for bullets, they captured Mikal as well and flew away.

Part three ends with Naheed dreaming of Mikal’s return to Heer which is not going to be happened.

‘Isaiah’ (4th Part)

Fourth and the last part ‘Isaiah’ the shortest of the novel, details the adjustment of the family after the heavy losses. Rohan is completely blind now. Naheed is soon to be a qualified teacher. Yasmin is teaching in a school. There are two children in the house.

Ardent Spirit is now run by the government. Father Mede is not found yet. Major Kyra has disappeared as well. As for as Naheed’s son is concerned, he was presented as a twin brother of Yasmin who with Tara went to the village where she gave birth to presumed twins.

Naheed is still waiting for Mikal; “She had waited for him once before, and that time too everyone said that he was no longer alive” the narrator says.

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