Review of The Lightless Sky by a fellow Afghan and Friend.


I have just finished reading Gulwali Passarlay’s book “The Lightless Sky”. It was a great book to read and It captivated my thoughts to the core because I myself have made this terrifying and life threatening journey from Afghanistan to the UK in late 2007. In his book Gulwali talks about “ almost drowning in the Greek sea” this is something which I have experienced too.
The inhuman treatment by the Iranian and Turkish authorities and human traffickers, the struggle to have basic needs like food and water, the dangerous attempts to cross from one country to another and risking our lives by hiding in lorries and sleeping in jungles are the experiences which all the refugees go through to get to a safe place. Gulwali mentions the food queue in Calais in the book which reminded me of the times I had queued there for the food. Reading the book made me feel like I was making my journey all over again because the similarities are astonishing. I know Gulwali since 2011. I met him at Hamid’s house who is mentioned in the book too and ever since we have been good friends. Although I know Gulwali personally and very closely, reading his book made me connect with him in a more emotional way because we have a whole journey and struggles in common.

Reading the book surfaced characteristics about his personality that we sometimes unknowingly miss out noticing in our friends. In the book, he comes across as a leader and quite daring which is hard to be when you are literally following orders given by the smugglers. In the book, he also comes across as very curious, punctual, trying to know what the plan is and trying to have a plan before action person. Let me tell you that knowing Gulwali I can confirm these things about him. He always wants to do things with a plan and is always curious about things which are unclear. For example, once he had come to Belgium to meet me. I asked him not to book a hotel room instead we stayed at a friend’s house for the night. He was not happy with it because staying at my friends house was not part of his plan! The next day he booked a hotel room.

I want to thank my dear friend Gulwali for writing this book because it’s not only his journey, it’s the journey of every person who was unfortunate to leave their loved ones behind and seek protection in Europe. He is a role model for me and for many people who have made this journey. I wanna thank him for representing the refugees and asylum seekers and for educating people about the reality. I am proud of his achievements and charity and community work. As an afghan, I am proud to see my fellow afghan and a friend to have carried the most prestigious “the 2012 Olympics Torch” representing refugees, struggles, courage and determination.

Niamatullah Rifiqi

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