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 Rating: 3.5/5
What piqued my interest was that the book is written in the form of a play and I have always enjoyed reading /watching plays. The plot is a fictional love story set in the 90’s in Kashmir. For as long as I remember, Kashmir has been a sensitive topic we all have been reading/listening about for decades now. Although I always wanted to know more about it, I never particularly took out time to read or gather more info about it. So when I read the book blurb, I had to read it.
The language is simple, and the story is well-narrated, could have been better though. It gives great insights about what happened and how it happened in January 1990 in Kashmir, the details of the Kashmiri Pandits exodus and their plight when they were forced to leave the Kashmir Valley, which had been their homeland for centuries, succumbing to the selfish motives of politicians and militants.
The love story between the Hindu boy and Muslim girl, gives the story a real-life angle, as all the Kashmiris were simply Kashmiris who shared the same culture, language, neighbourhood, as is always the case I believe until a political angle gets tagged to it. Though laced with a fictional story, the situation narrated in the play are factual and tragic.
I did enjoy the read and it helped me understand more than what little I knew about this topic.