A tiny tale of life

October 29, 2023

A quick, engaging read about life as lived and experienced by the author

A tiny tale of life


he book by Khawar Salim is precisely what the title says it is. It is a tiny tale of life as lived and experienced by Salim, compressed into 268 profound meditations.

Reflective of the author’s struggles, learning and interactions with his inner world and surroundings, Frickin Short Life is a quick, engaging read.

Having led a somewhat unconventional life, Salim found himself stuck in ill-health and limited mobility after a debilitating stroke. When the brutal stroke took from him the strength to use his dominant hand, Salim decided it was time to share and reflect on the life he had led up to the point; to share with his readers an autobiography that contained only the necessary details of his life. He decided to express and emote when life rendered him expressionless.

All 268 musings can be read as separate quotes or seen as puzzle pieces; it is a puzzle where each part fits perfectly to give the reader an insight into the not-so-perfect life of its writer.

Salim doesn’t sugarcoat anything. Succinct but meaningful, the world’s smallest autobiography takes the reader through its author’s existence, one musing at a time.

The book opens with his struggles post-ailment. From there, each little chapter chronicles his life as it began, starting from his childhood. You hear of his adolescence, experience the freedom of his youth and the crackling of his mind’s chatter as life takes him places. Poignantly retold are remembrances of a life where passion and poverty collided.

Salim rose through the ranks and reached star status in advertising, but in essence, he has always been an artist, a painter, and as life’s autumn approached, he found himself roped back into the world of colours.

The world of advertising embraced him, and he excelled at his job. Exposed to the world and new ideas through his work, Salim does not associate success with work. He claims to hate advertising. His success in advertising, he attributes to creativity and a fun dressing sense. He looked the part and hence played it well, or so he says.

Frickin Short Life doesn’t attempt to chronicle Salim’s entire life but merely highlights humbling snippets that appear to matter most to him.

Salim’s honesty is refreshing. He talks of a childhood filled with wonder, hunger and many painful losses, starting with his father’s. But you also hear him succeed and cheer when you realise that he conquered many of his fears, beginning with English, which gave him ulcers and depression at 18.

There are several references to lost love in this compelling memoir. Whisky and women are mentioned frequently. The former proved more consistent a partner, it seems.

Lack of consistency is another constant in Salim’s life. Only after his stroke did he get a shot at deep introspection. A product of that is this autobiography, reflective of the brevity of life and its many uncertainties.

The only constants in his life after the death of his beloved mother are his friends. Spread across continents, these friends are his support system.

There is a palpable sense of loss and loneliness in Salim’s writing. We hear of the many people he met in his career but never of a promising love. It seems that he followed what his grandfather once predicted after reading his birth chart.

Salim followed the wrong love for years, but his true beloved reclaimed his attention with the arrival of the autumn. Painting has returned to the stage.

Reading a Fricking Short Life, one is reminded of the brevity of life. Those who know loss well find themselves completely engrossed, but the book has the potential to engage everyone.

It’s short, honest and simple. Salim does not share every little detail of his life, but the ones he does are the most important.

Authenticity is difficult to find in a world of unreal facades, but Salim’s willingness to reveal sour details of his life comes as a welcome gust of wind.

In following Khawar Salim’s journey one snippet at a time, readers are exposed to a life they may disagree with. However, Salim is not afraid of being judged for his choices. He has realised that life is too short to be spent focusing on the wrong questions. Struggles, pain, loss, achievement and love are all chapters of life’s tale. Only the writer decides what others get an insight into.

Fricking Short Life is an autobiography unlike any. It is a brilliant expression of a life well-lived and worth reading about.

Frickin’ Short Life: Sinfully Alluring: The World’s Smallest Autobiography

Author: Khawar Salim

Publisher: The Castle Press, Anaheim, CA, 2021

Pages: 480

Price: $21.99

The reviewer is a staff member

A tiny tale of life