Author: Rahul Pandita
Publisher: Penguin Random House
My Rating & Recommendation: 5/5, Must Read
Have you ever experienced anything dear to you being forcibly taken away, while you helplessly watch, may be even painfully comply!
Kashmir is a heaven on earth. A heaven with multiple realities where almost everyone has his/her own version of truth. This book is a heart wrenching narrative of one such reality which dawned upon Kashmir and Kashmiri pandits in the late 80s and unfortunately, continues to exist (and haunt) them and all of ‘us’ even today.
This book is a story of a young boy reminiscing his childhood days and the place which he called home (Kashmir). The author shares intricate details of his early life in Kashmir. The culture, fond memories of daily household routines, the forbearing culture, the beauty & simplicity of the place. I felt comfortably settled as reader before the painful transition of words & events started to bleed out of the pages.
This memoir is a disturbing tale of threats, violence, land encroachment, cold blooded murders and a systematic elimination of a target community (Kashmiri Pandits). This lead to unimaginable fear and eventually the mass exodus of a community as a desperate survival measure. The stories made me shudder and wonder in disbelief. As they say, ignorance is a bliss!
The gripping narration
The author uses the language like a wizard. He handholds the readers and teleports them to the events he witnessed, as if, you are watching it together, unfold right in front of you while hidden safely in a corner where no one can notice you. Amid the avalanche of sordid tales, he makes it a point not to lament. In fact, he gracefully avoids that despite being in the thick of it all. He doesn’t accuse, nor makes it a critical commentary. Instead, the author uses the sheer power of story telling to help the readers grasp the magnitude, intensity of the events, convoluted emotions and reality that was and that is today. The best part is, he let’s you ascertain and choose how you want to feel about these events without forcing an agenda.
This book binds despair, resilience, helplessness, hope and reality into its pages. It’s a window that lets a reader get a glimpse of one significant, sordid and discomforting piece in the history of Kashmir. It could conveniently called the chronicle of struggle and hardship faced by one community, but it’s the scar that soul of Kashmir carries with it, it’s much more…