"I've told you before, and I will tell you again, if you are unable to read the Holy Book you will be punished." The teacher's face was a mask of anger. "Understand?"
Born in 1975 in the UK to a Pakistani father and an English mother, Alexander Khan spent his early years as a Muslim in the north of England. But at the age of three his family was torn apart when his father took him to Pakistan. Despite his desperate cries, that was the last he saw of his mother - he was told she had walked out and abandoned them; many years later he learned she was told he'd died in a car crash in Pakistan.
Three years on Alex is brought back to England, but kept hidden at all times. His father disappears to Pakistan again, leaving Alex in the care of a stepmother and her cruel brother. And it is then that his troubles really begin. Seen as an outsider by both the white kids and the Pakistani kids, Alex is lost and alone.
When his father dies unexpectedly, Alex is sent back to Pakistan to stay with his `family' and learn to behave like a `good Muslim'. Now alone in a strange, hostile country, with nobody to protect him, Alex realises what it is to be truly orphaned. No one would listen. No one would help. And no one cared when he was kidnapped by men from his own family and sent to a fundamentalist Madrassa on the Afghanistan border.
A fascinating and compelling account of young boy caught between two cultures, this book tells the true story of a child desperately searching for his place in the world; the tale of a boy, lost and alone, trying to find a way to repair a life shattered by the shocking event he witnessed through a crack in the door of a house in an isolated village in Pakistan.
Alexander Khan, who writes under a pseudonym, was born in northern England in 1975. His father was a Pathan tribesman from north-west Pakistan and his mother was a working-class girl from Hyde, near Manchester. In 1978 his father abducted him, took him to his home village of Tajik, and he never saw his mother again. Flung back and forth between England and Pakistan for years, Alex was eventually kidnapped forced to join a camp famed for training members of extreme groups. Alex is now a happily-married telecoms engineer. He lives with his wife on the south coast of England.