Of Shame and Secrets 13 Reviews

By: Dania Shah

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Trapped in a vicious cycle of abuse, Zunaisha is struggling to make peace with the past, a thousand questions torture her day and night as she remembers the horrors she endured. However, her life turns upside down when she realizes that she is about to thrust her child into the same hell she lost herself in, ages ago. 

Will Zunaisha muster enough courage to undo a future that seems obvious or will she stand and stare as history repeats itself?

ISBN (Digital) 978-969-696-241-0
ISBN (Hard copy) 978-969-696-217-5
Total Pages 65
Language English
Estimated Reading Time 1 hour
Genre Contemporary Fiction
Published By Daastan
Published On 23 Nov 2020
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Dania Shah

Dania Shah

I have been writing for as long as I can remember. As an ENFP I have too much going on and writing is my only escape. It is something where I can sit down and express myself without being judged for it.


Maryam Ahmed


Oct 17, 2023

exellent work

Tracey Jones


Jan 21, 2022

The book is prefaced with a striking statistic, 5 children die every day of child abuse. If that wasn’t enough the book claims 20 people experience violence every minute.

Structurally this book contrasts the present with the past and how abuse is carried forward from childhood into adult life. The reader sees the innocence of a young girl, western dreams and Disney characters, corrupted by a trusted close relative. From introducing her to cigarettes and alcohol to pornography and finally sexual abuse. Where the abuse robbed her of her innocence, her behaviour cost her the friendship of a revered older brother. There is a great sense of shame and condemnation of the victim for being victimised, along with self-inflicted destructive coping mechanisms.

When she marries there is a suggestion that the groom is her choice, a love match and therefore she is responsible for the consequences. It is only when she is expecting a baby that she makes the connection between sexual abuse and domestic violence. The statistics from studies based on the subject need to be framed as part of the fiction, as if she is reading from a magazine, otherwise they look out of place. When she argues with her husband, she suffers the violence of his anger and we see her precarious position living with her in laws. After she reports the matter to the police everyone was very attentive and talked of respect. Eventually she withdrew the complaint, the idea of divorce and loss of social status were considered more valuable than protection from domestic violence. Shame becomes culturally defined when it is used to prevent loss of a family’s reputation or prevent damaging retribution.

After the birth of her daughter, we see the other side of the equation, how her husband witnessed domestic violence in his own home and why he thinks this is normal behaviour. As a reader you feel the enormity and courage these two people needed to attend counselling. Also, not just to attend a talking therapy but to make concrete steps to bring closure to the past.

The ending is a bit of a call to action, to stand up and shape society in the image we want to see ‘Society is made and shaped by us.’ This is a story of empowerment and courage to challenge a system which ensures the status quo though shame and victimisation. It is a story of courage for all victims of abuse.

There is no physical description of the protagonist, or any of her family, but given the setting the reader must assume she is of Asian or Arab descent. The blue eyed Disney character being a contrasting stylised image. The prose is very evocative using all the senses to create an atmosphere of revulsion and shame. There is a strong feeling of the characters pain which many readers will relate to and sympathise with. The protagonist shows courage and fortitude along with the consequences of wrong choices and undue influence. This is a very powerful story and I look forward to reading more from this author.

Sonia Khan


Oct 29, 2020

Nice work

Sonia Khan


Oct 29, 2020

Nice work

Noor Ul Ain


Oct 17, 2020

Even a short story must have well written characters and scenes that steal your breath. This is too one dimensional. It is like when you listen to someone narrate a story in one minute. It would have been much better if it was focused on the one life changing instant when she decided to report him to the police. A happily ever after ending is not necessary-especially in a short story.

Aug 02, 2020


Myra Ahmad


Feb 11, 2019

A well-balanced portrayal of a sensitive topic. The writer explored many options and angles while maintaining a defined plot. A commendable effort.

Safwa Mir


Sep 29, 2018

Very well written and I really liked the part where the intervention plans were introduced.

Zahra Akbar


Jul 15, 2018

Really well penned, well-structured, and gutsy write up.

Jun 11, 2018

Good read!

Jun 08, 2018

Super Job Dear

Sania Aman


May 30, 2018

Amazing work my friend!

Dania Shah


May 28, 2018

Amazing read.

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