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A tapestry of conflict

A new book seeks to simulate the reality Kashmiris go through on a daily basis, writes Zulkarnain Banday.

Zulkarnain Banday |

The author of Curfewed Night and well-known Kashmiri journalist, Basharat Peer called it “a work of terrifying and hypnotic beauty” whereas Kashmiri novelist, Mirza Waheed describes it as “an extraordinary, haunting debut”. Similarly, Indian author, Siddhartha Deb found the book to be “a haunting and mesmerising debut that announces the arrival of a major new talent”.

A resident of Islamabad, Kashmir, Feroz Rather has woven a poignant and fascinating story around Kashmir conflict in his debut fiction Novel, The Night of Broken Glass. Spread across 13 chapters, the novel is glaring testimony of the horror that Kashmir has witnessed in the quest for “right to self-determination”.

Feroz evocatively weaves the macabre details about the insurgency in Kashmir. The visceral connections to the past and graphic details of torture and violence desperately attempt to simulate the reality Kashmiris go through on a daily basis.

Furthermore, the writer has forced its readers to see through the farcical caste system that is prevailing in sections of the Kashmiri society. For example, the story of characters like Gulam and his son Jamshid, who belong to “Sheikh and a watul, a dirty, lower-caste cobbler” family, and Rosy, a Syed girl.

The roughness in the love story of Jamshid and Rosy shows how the society defines a person according to one’s work, which is predetermined by coincidence of birth. These social hierarchies delimit people to prescribed boundaries which remain non-negotiable.

Nevertheless, the writer gives a sense of hope and resistance to this rigidness of caste through Rosy’s lament when she says, “I want to burn down the edifice of the whole damn society who believe that your soul is black dirt because you are Sheikh while mine is made of white and gold feathers because I am a Syed.”

Feroz comes from a village in Kashmir, however, his love for Srinagar is deeply ingrained in his description of the lanes and by-lanes of the city. The portrayal of the city in his second story, The Pheran, tells us how deep-souled Srinagar is. According to the writer, “this is the city where we can feel the magnanimity of the mystics”.

Although the book is fiction, chapters like Summer of 2010, The Miscreant and The Stone Thrower deeply resonate with the everyday experience of living in Kashmir. Feroz’s sculpted prose, his rhythm of writing, coherence in the overall narrative and his passion for understanding human emotions has given birth to a new writer from the traumatised vale.

About the Book:

The Night of Broken Glass by Feroz Rather,

Published by Harper Collins,

Pp 222; Price: Rs 399