x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

In the Sea There Are Crocodiles: a child alone on the road to freedom

Based on a true story, Fabio Geda tells the tale of a young Afghan's perilous journey from his homeland to sanctuary in Italy.

In the Sea There Are Crocodiles
Fabio Geda
Harvill Secker
In the Sea There Are Crocodiles Fabio Geda Harvill Secker Dh72

Enaiatollah "Enaiat" Akbari was 10 years old when he and his mother fled from Afghanistan to Quetta in Pakistan. The Taliban had overrun their village in Afghanistan's Ghazni province and after threatening to take Enaiat to be a slave, his mother was forced to take drastic action.

On the third day in Quetta, Enaiat woke up alone. His mother had returned to the rest of the family.

In his late teens, Enaiat was granted political asylum in Italy. How did he get from Pakistan to Italy as an illegal immigrant? That's the harrowing eight-year journey he relates to Fabio Geda in the Italian author's first novel to be translated into English.

"On the 18th day I saw a group of people sitting on the ground … They'd be sitting there forever. They were frozen. They were dead."

As the reader, you have to wonder what you were doing circa 2005, while Enaiat was traversing the mountains of Turkey. Geda's frank, unembellished prose captures the voice of a brave boy who never loses hope - and who is lucky to be alive to tell his story.