Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Book Review: Fiction/The Garden of Solitude by Siddhartha Gigoo, Rupa, 246 pp; Rs195 (Paperback)
The Garden of Solitude by Sidhhartha Gigoo is a remarkable personal narration on the collective outbreak of turmoil inside the socio-cultural fabric of Kashmir in late 1980’s. This novel honestly gives the sense of loss for what wrong happened with the Kashmiri Pandits in their trusted neighbourhood, that were never bad and troublesome…even after two decades and considerable adjustment in mainframe, Kashmiri Pandits are still missing those composite bonds which once used to be the intrinsic part of existence. Gigoo graciously allows his own voice in the protagonist, Sridar who epitomizes an authentic account in socio-cultural terms, without getting too much involved with the highly reprised effects of Cold War and subsequent wave of Islamization in valley.
This promises much for readers to understand the plight of Kashmiri Pandits through humane perspectives instead of getting blurred in cobweb of political tantrums. Now when a new generation of Kashmiri Pandits are already moved up with the time and theirs incessant struggle in alien circumstances; it’s solacing to see many of them being creatively able to historically shape theirs good and bad memories of once home and a forbidden territory for last two decades. So, Sridar’s memories of looking through his intimate window and impulses to visit his lost heaven amidst very lively reception from forcibly deprived neighbourhood gives lucid indication that at socio-cultural level, loss of exodus is reciprocal.
Searching nativity should be the main plank of Kashmiris in exile who tagged for long with an unjust and illogical suffix, SHARNARTHI! Never it was justifiable inside a free state like India…only it was an illuminating stance of Center’s failure to reach the basic flaws of Kashmir issue and getting involve for a constructive way out. What we have witnessed rather a consistent derailment of genuine concern substituted by hippocratic rise of local leadership which remains devoid to attain any rational purposes. Siddhartha succeeded to an extant in striking balance between essential sentimentalism and the existing scenario.
The right thing he did to route his vision in straight way without being fixed with tricky Kashmiri discourse, likewise of A.G.Noorani type in fruitless and divisive fashion! Over the years, Center missed to empower the Kashmiris who were in State or outside; instead wrongly all resources were directed to nurture the questionable local leadership and symbolic institutions. Even today, the path chosen of Public diplomacy is completely out of touch from the core of problems and it’s unlikely they will fetch anything substantial as solution on a very costly Kashmir issue.
It will be wrong to describe every work on Kashmir through the theoretic construct of international conspiracies. Needless to say, it caused for all turmoil inside once a living Paradise but need is too look around what forced at social/cultural/psychological that frozen and broke Kashmir? With impressive past and articulate lifestyle, the land which should have been the role model for peace, how turned to be among the most dangerous place of the world? After the folly of last six and half decades, Indian side must deal the Kashmir issue in straight terms without even a think to stretch the existing approach of Public diplomacy which otherwise will be keep downgrading the genuine aspirations out of its incompetency to engage effectively. Time is to think on many Sridar who should be given again theirs lost windows to see the world…!
Atul Kumar Thakur
Monday, August15,2011, New Delhi
(Published in The Financial World/Tehelka's business paper, dated on April19,2012,Thursday)