Book Review: Kaash Kashmir - A Play on Love and Loss in the Valley of Fear

Title: Kaash Kashmir: A Play on Love and Loss in the Valley of Fear
Author: Rajesh Talwar
Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction
Pages: 218

Rating: 3.2/5

KAASH KASHMIR by Rajesh Talwar is basically a retelling of the purging of the Hindu Kashmiri Pundits in the year 1990. The book is set in Srinagar and is in the form of a play. It has been long since I read one but I love reading plays as, in my opinion, they get straight to the point and also work up one's imagination in a different, albeit interesting way.

The play begins as Rohan, the son of a Hindu Pundit expresses his love for Ayesha, the daughter of a Muslim, on the sprawling lawn of Rohan's ancestral Kashmiri house. Rohan's and Ayesha's families are close friends and have been neighbors for many years. As the play progresses, the setting shifts from Srinagar to Pakistan where a plot is being hatched to remove all Kashmiri Pundits from the area so that Pakistan can claim Kashmir as their own. It is the year 1990 and suddenly, there is chaos everywhere and the Pundits are forced to leave their ancestral home and their livelihood behind and run for safety. Ten years go by and Rohan is now a Major in the Indian Armed Forces who is posted in Srinagar. Will he visit Ayesha and his house again? Will coming back to Srinagar open unhealed wounds and bring back painful memories?

The play mainly recounts the Pundit exodus that took place in 1990 which is, in this book, laced with a fictional background story. It highlights the emotions and helplessness of both the Muslims and the Hindus who were, till then, friends and well wishers. The author puts across the reason of it all and how it took place quite well but the story in itself, isn't very strong. It almost feels like the story was used as an (unsuccessful) aid to help narrate the true incidents and occurrences during the period. The writing style is good with genuine descriptions which only leaves the lagging story line that was expected to be a tad bit substantial. 

As I mentioned earlier, I love reading plays. But sadly, this one wasn't very convincing. Plays are about settings but are more importantly about the dialogues. The dialogues here were a little extravagant, I would say. But nevertheless, it is a good read. I learned many things that I did not know about the Valley and it is indeed shameful to think after what conspired there, there wasn't any support from our government at all. Kashmir has been a touchy topic since ages but this book puts the issue under the spotlight once again.

A quick and thought provoking read.

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 *** This book was sent to me by the author in exchange for an honest review. ***


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