Kashmir is a topic that every Indian wants to read or know about and I’m no exception and so, when I received an opportunity to review the book I grabbed it with open arms..
There are movies on Kashmir issues, especially on terrorism but hardly anything is spoken about how lives changed when people had to pack their lives overnight and move out of their motherland. This books talk about this issue and gave me an opportunity to learn more about the hardships of people who moved out of ‘The Valley’ and also emotions of people who were left behind.
The play opens with a scene in a garden opposite a large double-storey house in which a young teenage boy of school going years confesses his love to a young girl. The boy, Rohan, is a Kashmiri Hindu and the girl, Ayesha, a Muslim. The two families, the Pandits and the Shahs are neighbours. Soon after this profession of love, together with thousands of other Kashmiri Pandits, the boy and his family are forced to leave Srinagar, leaving their house and possessions behind. It is the beginning of 1990 that marks the Kashmiri Pandit exodus. At first the family stays in a refugee camp in Jammu, awaiting the possibility of return, but hopes of return rapidly dwindling, eventually they move to Delhi. Rohan, who is still in school, decides to join the Indian Army.
Ten years pass. Rohan is now a Major in the army, and is transferred to Srinagar, where he once again encounters Ayesha and her brother who is now part of the independence movement. What will happen now? Will Rohan and Ayesha’s childhood romance be rekindled? Will Ayesha’s brother be arrested or killed by the Indian army? The play explores sensitive issues in a fair and compassionate manner trying to bring in all points of view, eventually reaching the conclusion that the interests of Kashmiris is best served by their choosing to remain with India.
Essential reading for anyone who wishes to understand the tragedy that is present day Kashmir and the way forward….
My Review –
Kaash Kashmir is written like a play which talks about what happened in Kashmir in 1990, one of the events that is of great significance, however, I feel is highly neglected. The issue we are talking about is the time when Kashmiri Pandits were dragged out of their land. They had to leave everything behind and run away to save their lives.
The story is of Rohan and Ayesha. Rohan is a Hindu Pandit boy and Ayesha is a Muslim girl. Both are neighbors and have known each other since they were kids. Both dream of getting married when they grow up. Both the families have lived together for a long time and are very close to each other, they celebrate all festivals, both Hindu and Muslim, together.
Things take a bitter turn when terrorist groups and corrupt people start the struggle for Independent Kashmir and hence, deciding to drag all Kashmiri Pandits out of Kashmir. Rohan and his family, also were a victim of this tragedy and had to leave everything behind and run to the refugee camp in Jammu to save their lives. They eventually move to Delhi and were able to educate Rohan so that he could take up his dream profession and become an army officer.
Since, this book is written in a way of a play, it took some time to get use to the style and once I got use to reading the play it was simple. The language is simple and easy.
The characters have a significant place in the story and they develop effortlessly.
There are a few areas, which I think were not really thought through, like Dussehra being celebrated in December and also a few calculations with years were off. I can totally over see these things because the story was really nice and fresh.
It is a quick and a simple read. A book that you can finish in one sitting. The story, I feel could have been better but since it was written to be made in a play I can understand the limitations.
This book gives some insights to what happened in 1990s and is a good starting point if you want to know about this issue.
Overall, I really liked the book and it has awakened a desire in me to know more about this issue.
I would rate it a 3.5/5.