The pain experienced by the author when her husband's family decides to sell the house in
is described by her in
'A Lost Paradise-Home'.
She writes," He and his siblings had the legal authority to liquidate their property, I felt helpless. The thought of having no home in
Kashmir made me feel like an orphaned and lost child. Their
pragmatism called the unfortunate
house a helpless liability.
To me, it was a natural bond with
for us and our posterity". Parineeta is bitter not only against the brokers and the terrorists but also against her own community. In a tone of indictment, the author says", The brokers, who traded in disposing of the matriarchal edifices, sought out my husband's family and succeeded. The terrorists had vandalised it, but never could claim a genuine hold on our lovely home, but alas, we, the original inhabitants, sold it for a song. My moonlit glassroom smashed to smithereens; the homestead wept bruised and lacerated.
The phone call (from the broker) left me agonised and agitated.
The walnut tree, under which lay intertwined my children's baby hair, was auctioned.
The Kalpavriksha marked wall that had supported the dreams of a young bride and seen me through an unripe youth to a mellowed womanhood, had slipped from behind me. My husband calls my sentimental attachment to
Kashmir and home, an exaggerated romantic outlook. I ask him why his eyes catch the cool degrees of temperature in
first watching the weather report".
Five stories in this tome under review deal with displacement and exile as its theme. The other two stories - Yati and the
Apsaras, The Deity of the
are meant for that generation of Kashmiri Pandits who never saw/or lived in
Kashmiri Folklore abounding in such supernatural characters - dyav, Sheen Mohniv etc. comes alive in these stories.
We were and we will be
The story is set in a migrant camp in
A young physician, Dr Raman Raina, scion of a millionaire Kashmiri Pandit family that had left
four decades ago, while on his visits to the migrant camp to provide medical help, falls in love with a refugee girl, called Tripora Sondari. This fructifies into matrimonial alliance between the two. This is not accepted by the boy's mother, Khema. Through this conflict the author explores human psychology of characters.
It is not the class but the human frailty that is the cause of the conflict.
In Invincible the impact of terrorism is shown more directly.
The family of Poshkuj Kaul lives in a village, not far from Srinagar.
Poshkuj's family lived in perfect harmony with their neighbours of the majority community.
This harmony is reflected through two chracters - Mala and her son Rasool. Terrorism raises its head in the village through the appearance of a character-a foreign mercenary who succeeds in brainwashing Rasool's son. Mala resents the presence and behaviour of the alien - the bearded mercenary who had no respect for values and ethos of the land. Rasool shows helplessness when his son begins to trouble Poshkuj's family. But Mala hurls curses on her grandson. One day this Pandit family's cowshed and barn are set on fire by a frenzied mob, Shamboo and his wife go out to save poor cows. They never return.
Mala comes to her fri Poshkuj. She is accompanied by her son Rasool. He tells her that she should immediately leave the village alongwith two daughters of Shamboo. Rasool had been watching the misdemeanours of his son, first enthusiastically then with a disgust. He feared for the safety of Shamboo's daughters, and advises Poshkuj to take the daughters to Mumbai.
Rasool arranges some space for ladies in a Jammu-bound truck carrying cattle. Subsequently, Rasool's family contacts Kauls at Mumbai through a phone call and seek a bargain. Remains of Shamboo and his wife could be given back only if Kauls agree to give them the entire property they owned in the village.
Poshkuj wonders why had the fris turned predators.
Poshkuj tells them that remains of their son and daughter-in-law needed to be kept in
itself as they belonged to
Kashmir's earth. She reminds them that 'selling their property in
Kashmir was like selling one's mother’. Poshkuj, unable to bear the phone call, passed away the same night.
Look who got Azadi
An exted (joint) family in traditional Kashmiri society was the norm rather than an exception.
It provided security-emotional and financial to the members of the family. With economic empowerment of the woman and their social emancipation the two major flaws of the exted family came to the fore-undemocratic atmosphere and social repression in the name of preserving ethos of the joint family.
'Look who got Azadi'
is situated in this ambience.
Beg your Pardon
This is not only the finest story written in the collection, but also the best original story ever written by a Kashmiri writer.
In terrible times of 1989-90 some of the Kashmiri Pandit families adopted an ostrich-like mentality and decided to stay back despite threats and provocation.
They paid for it and lost their near and dear ones. The survivors overwhelmed by the guilt lapsed into severe reactive depression.
Parineeta Khar has presented the four case stories.
In one family a six year old girl is the only survivor. Her father had braved every provocation to stay put in
This was taken as challenge by the predators on the prowl. He began receiving threatening mail.
One evening he was shot dead while returning from office. The little girl’s shrieks who was witness to the killing brought her mother out. With her mouth agape a bullet consumed her also. Neighbours, taking pity on the little girl, s her to Jammu.
The girl, who saw her parents dying, landed in severe depression.
The only word she spoke was "Khotsan" (I am scared). A migrant psychiatrist tries a strange remedy for her. He uses 'auto-suggestion' to cure her and through her the other members of displaced community suffering from the same syndrome. The Psychiatrist tells her that she was a goddess who had no business to fear men with pistols. He told her she was Sharika, the doom for the sinners and the messiah of sufferers. The girl slowly comes out of depression. She is then trained to help other guiltridden Kashmiris.
A hut temple with supernatural setting is built on the upper heights of Kud. The child goddess goes there on the first day of every dark fortnight in the dark hours of night. People turn up to seek child goddess's "pardon" for atonement of their "sins".
There are three bone-shaking case studies narrated in the story.
The girl's therapy is simple. She asks them to narrate their "guilt", and go for atonement and repentance.
This she says would rid them of their guilt. The child goddess prescribes treatment which is itself unique-helping the miserable ones in the Pandit refugee camps.
It focusses on reconciliation.
Parineeta Khar's narrative style is easy, reflecting command over vocabulary, usage of words and distinctively Kashmiri metaphors.
She profusely uses colloquial Kashmiri expressions. Her female characters bear names after Kashmiri goddesses - Tripora Sondari, Ragniya, Shri Chakri, Sharika etc. The plots in the stories are well constructed and the characters are full of life.
The ings culminate in reconciliation, rather than in conflict and uncertainty. With two anthologies already under her belt one wonders when would she bring out her first Historical Novel. We wish her goodluck.
Title: We were and We will be
Author: Parineeta Khar
Price: Rs 300 (Cloth Bound)
Published by: Utpal Publications
R-2, Khaneja Complex
Main Market, Shakarpur,