Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The shadowed moon!

Book Review: Non-fiction/ Our Moon has Blood Clots by Rahul Pandita, Vintage/Random House, 258 pp; Rs499 (Hardback)
Over the decades, politics and high class but baseless discourses have produced only the trashes on Kashmir-the devoid from realities remains a harmful trend which is yet to be over. The dearth of expression becomes more acute once we try to see on the works surfaced after the outbreak of militancy in valley. This is because the chasms existed between the dry outsiders’ opinion and the ground realities were stood unmanageably high.

Rahul Pandita, who is known only for his remarkable works in journalism, also as formidable compiler on conflict zones of South Asia and for no side tricks, have come along with his memoirs from his home, which he had to leave unwillingly, like lakhs of others in the unfortunate winter of 1990. This is the kind of book, which is not written to read/debate and forget, but to reach to the root causes which made conditions ugly and forced Pandits to flee the valley.

This book touches upon the nuances of Kashmiriyat that was inseparable from Kashmiri Pandits. An innocent world, what it tries to recollect through the memories-the days were as peaceful as we have reasons to believe the beauty of valley. Homelessness means lot for its sufferer; it imposed upon those who were unaware about anything outside of the Kashmir. Those were accustomed for coexistential living, suddenly found themselves under the influence of virulent conspiracies.

If the local socio-cultural fabrics would not have dismantled through the non-visible but very dangerous operatives of cold war, still valley would not have turned like ‘clown’ and both Ravi and Irshad could have continued in its fold. But the unimaginably changed situation tolled the life of Ravi and many others of his generation, thousands others were forced for exile in their own nation and those who stayed there, either lived with remorse for the void created from the absence of Pandits in valley or simply turned indifferent like Irshad.

As the book progresses and Rahul sets to emerge from the flashback to enter into present time, he tries to see the homeland, first in distance but soon from a very close angle. His home-coming met change in responses from familiar faces (except from the old folks and structures), which makes us believe that a better part of Kashmiriyat is missing from the valley, or it could be said, the loss of Kashmiriyat itself that used to bind together the religious diversities in special term, caused for the outbreak of turbulence in late 1980’s.

Introspection on the essence of Kashmiriyat could be too deep; it could be looked as back as to the time of Rajtarangani or Akbar’s colonization of Kashmir, but here the focus should be unanimously channelised to draw the points: how the harmony in collective lives was the essence of Kashmiriyat and how it started losing those specialties of universalism with the partition in 1947?

Post partition, Kashmir was one among the many troubled royalties but not most shaky in any terms. Then few would have thought about the evolvement of this paradise, as India’s weakness and centrepoint of notorious cold war politics! These developments happened in Jammu & Kashmir since India’s independence, and more resolutely in the valley with the Kashmiri Pandits’ unfortunate exodus in 1990-down the twenty-three years, it’s still unfashionable to talk about the Pandits, for whom, once their world was Kashmir and nothing else.

Agha Shahid Ali, a Kashmiri and a remarkable literaturer who has written ‘The country without post office’, died at a young age in USA, could be a very apt frame of reference for knowing what the idea of native belonging is?
Agha was a believer in composite culture, not surprising, if his drawing room had more Hindu deities than Islamic icons-there was nothing religious about that, rather merely a continuance of liberal collective bond was in pace. It’s true, Shahid wanted his last days to be spent in Kashmir and that was quite a normal wish for a sensible soul like him…the Pandits, those are in the exile too feel similarly despite living away from the valley for long time.

Rather differently but somewhere sharing similar feelings, the Pandits have not stopped going down into memory lanes, where they could see their home with kitchen gardens and many windows; from there they used to see the nieghbourhood and trees of apple and chestnuts. The generation of Rahul could recall those simpler days, when India’s middle class was introduced Doordarshan on black & white TVs - they too grew up watching India-Pakistan’s cricket matches, sipping Gold-Spots, recording the songs of

Dance-Dance or Tridev and roving with a cousin across the city, who was genuinely talented and faultless.
Probably that makes Rahul to remember that he too had 22 windows in his home, only years later when his mother used to live in those lost imagery of possession and father was getting more prone for silence, not to seek any further peace but with looking in those curbed patches of past, which was beyond the means to control. Rahul and his parents have a house to live, so is true with most of the other Pandits, who have attained a degree of normalcy with the time, though their home will stay in Kashmir, as they can’t perish their memories so easily and in random action.

More than the political interferences, the plight of Pandits would be solved with the enforcement of Kashmir’s conventional socio-cultural wisdom, which was based on composite values and not on the aura of barbarism. Rahul holds promises to be back in Kashmir, time will come and this will be a reality and that would make the paradise complete again.

Beautifully written, meticulously researched and with the deeply filled sensitive portrayal, Rahul Pandita’s memoirs to be remembered not only from a class of readers but by the generations to come. As an author, he has made the turf of non-fiction writing more credible, responsive and attached to the subtlety of troubled lives and geographies. The newly found acclaims will make Rahul feel more honored and satisfied than privileged-the real happiness will be back to him and among the Pandits, when they will sip Kahwa at home, not in imaginary homelands!
Atul K Thakur
(Published in Kashmir Dispatch on January23,and syndicated by Rising Kashmir on January27,2012)

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