-by Rahul Pandita
-review by Shivam Singh
This is the story of Rahul Pandita who is the author of this book, and his family, having faced the exodus of 19th January 1990, riots of Anantnag in 1986 and the tribal invasion of 1947 in the Kashmir Valley. This portentous reality which billows over his family, especially his mother who often ponders about her sheher Kashmir and rambles intermittently and wistfully: Our home in Kashmir had twenty-two rooms.
This story is all about the sufferings, pain and the dirges which echoed in Kashmir Valley since her lifetime when her blood-soaked tears which tinged the Jhelum and Wular. Pandita, who was a teen of mere fourteen at a time of 1990, described the sordid, sinister and the heinous Azaadi which shoved the numerous Kashmiri Pandits out of their home and they were killed, tortured and raped. How the 14 years old could know that killing Kashmiri Pandits or the kafirs as per the Islamist parlance, would give them Azaadi. When the volume of Azaan loudspeaker was raised and amplified echoing “Allah-o-Akbar” to muffle the bullets of AK-47, they couldn’t surmise that the death was lurking for them in the insidious Kashmir Valley. The cries of jihad were constantly pervading as euphemism to insinuate the youths to cross LoC.
Rahul Pandita, through his story, depicted us the importance of shelter through a wistful and poignant journey. The idea of sheher, the touch of effulgent breeze crooning a lullaby and the apple-laden tree swaying gently in the garden, the unbearable pain when you have to languish as a refugee and the deluge of sorrow which besiege you when your mother constantly rambles: Our home in Kashmir had twenty-two rooms! The trauma of 1990 exodus, Anantnag Riots, Wandhama massacre and God knows how many, still haunts many Kashmiri Pandits who are either languishing in refugee settlements or dispersed somewhere in the corners of world. The men who had lost their friends, family and acquaintances, when the Kashmir Valley plunged into an abyss of unbridled massacre and exodus of Pandits, are still scouring for the life which once frolicked in the idyllic Kashmir valley. The phantasmagoria of the dreaded and morbid Kashmir, still gnaws in their heart that they want to get purged of but they can’t. They want to return to their lost abode on the Kashmiri Soil and to feel once again the cool breeze wafting and to gaze upon the swaying branches of their delicately pruned apple trees.
It’s very tragic that how their plight was spurned by some ‘intellectuals’ who advocate about ‘minority’ and Human rights but they never dared to confront the dreaded echo of “Raliv, Chaliv yaa Gaaliv”. (Be one among us, flee, or be decimated)
Emotional Appeal – 9.5/10
Narration – 10/10
Imagery – 8.5/10
Overall – 9/10