NCERT Solutions For Class 12th English

Love Across the Salt Desert Summary

The story “Love Across the Salt Desert” by Keki N Daruwalla depicts a love affair of two true and sincere lovers namely Najab and Fatimah. There are many characters in the story but Najab has got a pivotal position. This specific story I am discussing is set in an Indian town at the outskirts of India and Pakistan in the Salty Deserts of the Rann of the Kutch (somewhere in Gujarat or Rajasthan). The village is completely parched and dry and it has not rained there for three successive years. Many villagers earn their livelihood by smuggling goods across the border braving the BSF(Border Security Force), Pakistan Army and bringing back goods from Pakistan as exchange.

Najab and his father Aftab too smuggle stuff into Pakistan and bring back spices from a Pakistan village. In the early part of the story, Najab is a very shy, introvert and reserved boy. He was known to have blushed at the mere mention of a girl. He had dreamy eyes. None of his friends had ranked him among the braves. Even his father Aftab feared the boy would waste away all that he had and his ancestors had acquired. He considered him too shy to be able to charge money what would he sell.

But all these predictions proved wrong in the latter part of the story. Najab turned to be courageous, brave and determined hero for a romantic movie after his first meet with Fatimah who ignited a spark of love in him. On one visit to Pakistan, The Hero meets the Spice Seller’s daughter, “Eyes Meet, Love at First Sight” – The Eyes do all the talking and it is understood that the Hero will come, “aur Dulhania Le Jayega”.

The Hero returns home with his father then informs his mother of his love and that he will be going to bring home his bride. As do standard Indian Movie mothers she wants her son to be happy, but his concerned of his safety and finally she courageously sends off her son with some food and jewels. He undertook a dangerous journey, crossed the border and met his love. He did not care for bullets and difficulties. He faced all the hardships, he met during the trip with a smiling face. He was true, sincere and faithful in his love. He had understood what love really means. He felt his love and saw the image of Fatimah in every object he touched, imagined and articulated. Najab braves the border forces in style. The Spice Seller is hesitant but he sees the love in their eyes and does not stand in between their love.

“The Rann of Kutch is a vast, lonely desert, almost impossible to cross, yet some people do cross it for reasons of their own.”

Yes, Najab Hussain wanted to be with someone he loved and he had already reached his destination mentally uniting him with ‘ hoor-eyed ‘ Fatima, the spice -seller’s daughter long before he could meet her physically overcoming every fatal impediment through the salt desert.

Love Across the Salt Desert

To reach Pakistan, Najab crossed the border and met Fatima there. While it wasn’t that easy for Najab to fight shy of Zaman, the cross – border trafficker, and Indus Ranger’s strict vigilance, Najab did it with all the strength of mind. His life was in stake but he didn’t bother. The storm of sand couldn’t keep him from being flooded with exuberant love feelings.

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“At one level of consciousness, he knew that this was madness.”

In the recent past, Najab had the opportunity to meet Fatima for the first time while travelling with his father. Fatima’s fascinating eyes did not take seconds at the very first sight to convince Najab of the most important discovery that he would no longer be called an ‘ introvert ‘ who, with his dreamy eyes, went out for his love, Fatima.

“What would he not do for her, the daughter of the spice-seller; she who smelt of cloves and cinnamon, whose laughter had the timbre of ankle-bells, whose eyebrows were like black wisps of the night and whose hair was the night itself? For her he would cross the salt desert.”

Najab was inspired by a sense of success as he saw he saw that according to the religious custom, the food offered by him to the Panchmai Pir on the hilltop happened to have been eaten up by the Jackals. Najab was blessed and set off on his journey. He firmly believed that the lamp lighted in honour of the Pir every night on the hilltop would illuminate his hope . The ignorance of Najab about the unfair means of crossing the border with Pakistan was a major mistake that might take his life. The BSF people at the border with Pakistan began firing and chasing him for a mile and then came the sandstorm that kept the hunters away saving the life of Najab.

“Najab was in a trance now, events flashing past him like figures on the screen.”

Najab waited for the night to cover his identity and then hobbled at the door of the clove – seller across a mile’s distance on his toe. Fatima heard the soft call and her glittering eyes spoke wordlessly of her uplifted heart as she opened the door silently and found Najab standing outside.

Najab’s mother’s gold bangle kept the hardcore businessman, Kaley Shah busy with buying Najab’s cloves who, finding Kaley Shah snoring in deep and profitable sleep, didn’t waste time setting for his return trip to Kutch. But he wasn’t alone this time. Fatima had deep love in her heart. She was offered by Najab to experience a maiden test – drive across the Runn on Allahrakha. Her silent approval of such an offer reciprocated the indomitable, free-flowing trust of Najab. They knew quite well that they could not be held back by any geographical border.

“For her, it meant just a shift in dialect,
a smear of Kutchi added and a little of Sindhi sandpapered away.”

They reached Khavda carrying the blissful love among the raindrops that came down after three years of drought to quench the thirst of the land. Thus, the success of love across the salt desert was proven by Najab and Fatima. The village hails the girl as the saviour.

Questions of Love Across the Salt Desert


“Love Across the Salt Desert” is a beautiful love story based on the theme that true love transcends all barriers like religion, region, caste, colour, and creed. It depicts union between two lovers despite their hailing from two opposite sides of the International border between India and Pakistan — two hostile countries.

The story bears its title not only because of the fact that sole and the main avenue of the entire dramatic action is the Thar or Kuchh desert, known for its salt lagoon, but also for other reasons like its being the hottest desert in the subcontinent and as such not so easy to cross unaided, its being devoid of water bodies; it’s being chequered by mirages and also because of its being guarded by Pak rangers on one side and BSF personnel from their watchtowers from the other side. Needless to mention that “Salt” is a symbol standing for a harsh and inhospitable nature.

Najab, a reticent and diffident budding youth from Khavda, Runn of Kutchh is captivated by the peerless and bewitching beauty of Fatima ( a clove seller’s daughter from Sindh, the Pakistani side of desert referred to as “Hoor” and elopes with Najab. None of the lovers spare even a moment’s thought to petty considerations like Nationality, linguistic barrier, Parental permission, etc. They are not even deterred by the danger of crossing the inhospitable and dangerous desert unaided illegally.

To start with, Najab is introduced as a diffident, strangely introverted youth with dreamy eyes notorious for blushing even at the mere mention of a girl. Despite his being only 20 years of age, he had trudged across the desert with his father Aftab – a smuggler – four times and knew everything about the desert and was confident enough of crossing the desert alone if so needed.

Fatima- a paragon of beauty, the daughter of Pakistani clove seller, a witty old smuggler – being under pressure of marrying Mehfooz Ali – a far off relative with extremely slurred speech, was taken by innocent and all smiling face of the young Najab who had come to stay at her house during his fourth illegal trip across the desert. Having failed to elicit even a word from Najab in the morning, she did receive a positive response from him in the evening thus brings about a sea change in his personality.

Najab, after falling in love with Fatima, turned out to be a “ Dare Devil” as for his return to Khavda, he shipped away alone with his camel Allahrakha determining to bring back Fatima as his mother’s daughter-in-law. He braved all the perils and dangers during his desert odyssey. His daring was crowned with success when he finally stepped on to the Khavdan soil with Fatima bringing in torrential rains which ended three years of death-dealing drought and thus bringing relief and new lease of life to Khavdans’ who in return welcomed Fatima with open arms as a bringer of joy to them.

Theme of ” Love Over the Salt Dessert “

“Love Over the Salt Desert” is a romantic love story focused on the idea that true love transcends all boundaries such as culture, place, race, colour and creed. It portrays union between two lovers despite their hailing from two opposite sides of the Indian-Pakistan International Border – two violent nations. There may be many obstacles and problems in the way of true lovers, but their love wins the day after all.

Najab, an Indian boy, falls in love at first sight with a beautiful Pakistani girl named Fatimah. She is engaged to be married to another man called Mahfuz Ali. She does not want to marry him. She gets ready to elope with Najab to India. They have to face a lot of hazards. They have to face the guns of the Pakistani rangers, but they succeed in their mission.

Thus the story clearly shows that true love does not yield to any pressure and it is above everything.

This story also presents the gory truth of the developments in no man‘s land near international borders. The message conveyed through the story is that there are enemies of nations who do illegal trade and trespass the borders while smuggling toxins, banned drugs, tranquillizers and false currency thus indulging in destroying the innocent lives of people. In this story, Najab, a young man from India, in paranoia trespasses the border while following his father and fellow villagers‘ illegal acts and crosses over the border with mixed intentions and luckily comes back alive.

Character sketch of Fatima

Fatima is the heroine of Keki N. Daruwalla’s “Love Across the Salt Desert”. She is referred to as “ Hoor” a paragon of heavenly beauty . She is bestowed with such a captivating beauty as to be able to drag Najab- a lifelong reticent, shy and diffident youth off his stand and hold her in a tight embrace for quite a while.

She is the only daughter of the wily old clove seller and smuggler of Sindh. Having lost her mother quite early, she manages the domesticity quite appreciably. She is under a lot of pressure from Kaley Shah to marry Mehfoz Ali – a far off relative from her mother’s side – a proposal she abhors as Mehfoz Ali is notorious for his slurred speech and stammer so much so that urchins mimic him and get ready to hound him like a madcap.

Fatima falls in love with Najab at the first sight and it is so profound and strong that she gets ready to abandon her father, her country and everything else and run away with Najab—another far off relative from her mother’s side hailing from Indian part of the desert. Fatimah entices and dares Najab and he flings his arms around her. As she elopes with Najab, she does not care for the village and country she is leaving for good. For her it means just a shift in dialect.

Fatima’s stepping on to the soil of Khavda is taken as ominous by Khavdan’s as torrential rains pour down the moment she steps in, thus ending three long years of death-dealing drought.

Character Sketch of Najab

Najab is a handsome and dynamic young man. In the early part of the story, he is a very shy, introvert and diffident boy. He is been known to blush at a mere mention of a girl. He had eyes which were dreamy. Neither of his peers ranked him among the braves. Also his father Aftab worried that the boy would lose everything he had and his ancestors had earned. He says, “All that my ancestors and I have acquired during a hundred years, this lad will squander away, not because he is a spendthrift but he will be too shy to charge money for what he sells!” He found him too shy to be able to demand what he might do for money.

Najab proves all his critics wrong. After his first encounter with Fatimah who sparked a flame of love in him, Najab turned to be a bold, confident, and determined hero for a romantic movie. He proves to be very daring and brave. He does not care for his safety in order to be able to meet his beloved. He turns out to be confident and courageous. He faces all odds but does not give up hope and ultimately he is successful in his mission. He wins his love. Najab keeps his word. He gives a promise to Fatimah that he would come back.

Fatimah also encourages him as she does not want to marry Mahfuz Ali. Najab shares his plan of elopement with his mother. He does not lose heart. He manages to stage the drama of business and elope despite all the dangers. He
truly acts on the proverb “Only the brave deserve the fair.”

Najab is a true hero. He falls in love with Fatimah. It is love at first sight. Fatimah responds to his love. She remains faithful to him. Finally, he marries
her and brings her home.


Context: These lines have been taken from the story, “Love Across the Salt Desert ” written by Keki N Daruwalla. Here the writer conveys a very important message that true love knows no boundaries, barriers and bullets but it brings nations closer by minimizing the impediments existing between them.
Explanation: These lines express that Najab would do anything for his beloved Fatimah. Fatimah was a paragon of beauty. Her laughter had the sound of ankle bells, her eyebrows were like wisps of the night and her hair was the night itself. To get his object of love, Najab was happily ready to face any challenge.

Summary and Questions of Love Across the Salt Desert


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