All the time while I was reading this, I was specially reminded of the ‘Kashmir Hour’ broadcasted on PTV during the late 90s when the photos of mutilated bodies and wailing mothers used to repeatedly flash on the screen that made an 8 year old me cringe and get chilled to the bones. The fight for freedom was rich and loud while we dined and the TV blasted off songs of Humera Channa calling out to the world’s justice. We had no other option to switch a different channel. We had to realise that the war of freedom is hollering worse than ever until it got muffled over the years on our ears.
So this book is about Kashmir. Rushdie wanted to spit venom and did a tremendous job of it. Though the story rocked me out of my blazers, the long winded lament of Kashmir was a tad bit overdone. Rushdie wanted to come out ugly. He succeeded.
Such violence. Much drama.
The book starts in an intense manner when India (Kashmira), a smart woman of 30, harbours sexual thoughts for her father’s chauffer, a lean handsome Kashmiri man inducted specially for her father’s services. Later when her father, America’s counter terrorism chief, Max Ophulus (whose name is so wildly sensual) gets assassinated, the assassin turns out to be none other than the handsome chauffer himself who happens to be the husband of India’s mother. So there, now that you have a great Bollywood twist there, let’s move on to the more pressing matter at hand, Rushdie’s political concerns, which are not hard to discern through the text.
Rife with anti-Pakistan sentiments, Rushdie moves on to create a really ugly picture at the Line of Control, which is though somewhat true, stands out relentlessly as a biased stance of a one man’s propaganda. Other than that the book was an epitome of smart writing and rich cultural history. The realism, the dark magic, the Kashmiri food, the villages, the smell of the valley, the richness of the dialect screamed through the pages and while you can shrug off Rushdie’s biasness of Kashmiri’s fate, you cannot help but laud him for the powerful piece of writing.
I know the guy had gone through a lot of hate in the past, some deserved and some undeserved, but this book stands a chance to be read and analysed, along with other literature on Kashmir. And so while I cannot say it is one of the best books on Kashmir, it exists and it makes sure to leaves off a mark that is hard to rub off.