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Reviewed by Rabia Tanveer for Readers' Favorite
The Boy Refugee: A Memoir From a Long-Forgotten War by Khawaja Azimuddin is the story of the author as he recalls the time when he was a prisoner of war and how he fought tooth and nail for his freedom. Azimuddin was an 8-year-old child during the 1971 Indo-Pakistani war. He and his family were taken prisoner after a war that will be remembered as the Liberation War by Bangladesh. While the war might be the cause of freedom for some million people, it was a hefty penalty for Azimuddin and his family. They lived in horrible conditions where food was scarce and disease was plentiful. There he spent two years in terrible conditions but he always kept a positive outlook. How did that young boy grow up to be a surgeon in Texas? The odds were stacked high against him, there wasn’t anything he could do to change the situation. So how did he survive?
The Boy Refugee is a touching yet empowering tale of a young boy who always kept his positive outlook, even when he was living in desolate conditions. I cannot imagine the impact being a P.O.W would have had on a young mind like his. Dr. Khawaja Azimuddin held nothing back when he described the horrible days leading up to the war, and after the war when he and his humble family were taken prisoner by the Indian army. You felt his pain, his confusion and his need to find answers. My heart broke when I read about the living conditions he endured. However, I also felt his need to get out of the situation, leave his past behind and only look to the future. The author narrates his family life and how each of them had a battle of their own. The language is very simple and that made it even more impactful. This story of resilience is a must-read.