Rania herself grows up in two different worlds. Sherji, her father, a resolute fundamentalist, sends out her mother and sister every night to dance and sing for, and sleep with, rich customers to make money for his madrasa. By day, she works as a tourist guide. The past is wonderful while the present cursed, and it is in music and a young Indian Hindu boy Asher that Rania finds refuge while she loathes her abusive father and her own incapacity to help her mother and sister.
At the outset, the novel seems like a classic retelling of doomed romance. It checks all the boxes: violent families, star-crossed lovers, a historic and beautiful setting, mujra, India and Pakistan, Pakistan and America. But under the surface runs a searing fire. Skyfall is indeed a love story, with even higher stakes. The self struggles not just for its own independence but for an entire country’s, against injustice and violence.
When Sherji finally sends Rania into the underworld because he is running out of money, it is strangely reminiscent of when God tells Abraham to sacrifice his prized son Isaac on Moriah. Things go well for Isaac, naturally, and Abraham is rewarded.
But as Rania fights the men who throw her around the room, slapping her and trying to kiss her, no angel appears, no Ram. Between the two thousand years that separate Sherji from Abraham, faith is no longer a leap into the unknown but calculated and capitalist, sentenced by men, and women, in blindfolds, the innocents always under the yoke.