J= J&K from Ministry of Utmost Happiness

J was a conflicting choice for me. Let me tell you first that I am going to talk about Jammu & Kashmir from Ministry of Utmost Happiness today. I have a friend who dislikes the author Arundhati Roy so much that he is not ready to give any of her books a chance. We had had a dirty shouting match about the left-right political ideologies, and since then, I have been very afraid of talking about this book. I tried to change my choice to Japan, but that didn’t feel right. I thought shifting the book to Delhi because the book covers almost all of the country, but that also didn’t feel right. So, here I am, writing about Jammu & Kashmir of the book that I know somebody hates.

What do you think of when Jammu and Kashmir comes to your mind? A paradise? Or as the book starts with the description of Kashmir—“snowy landscape and happy people in warm clothing sitting in snow sledges?” But this book shows the murkier water of Kashmir.

Next time the Jammu and Kashmir she talks of is in Delhi—sitting near Jantar Mantar, protesting. She wraps this J&K in “Association of Mothers of the Disappeared, whose suns had gone missing, in the war for freedom in Kashmir”. She explains their banner as

The Story of Kashmir

Dead= 68000

Disappeared=10000

Is it Democracy or Demon Crazy?

I ask again the question I kept on asking myself as I read the book. What do I think of when I think of J&K? The answers I had were “Pakistan”, “India”, “Wars”. But the book hinted on the mass exodus of Hindu Pandits from their houses. And I could not stop thinking of how many partitions we are going to go through?

The book further explores the concept of “freedom of Kashmir” and how absurd it is to the people from outside Kashmir. She goes deeper explaining the Kashmir from dissociative POVs—there is J&K which calls for our sympathy, where people are killed and imprisoned without any reasons, where terrorists are borne out of nowhere, where they are fighting to survive. There is J&K which is stupid in being swept away in the wind of “Jihad”, which does not understand what is good/right, which is an enemy of humanity.

I will deny the fact that the book is a chaos. There are threads crawling in the book from so many places. It is like you untangle one tragedy, there will be a next one waiting for you in the next lines. Despite that, the book made me think and wonder and worry. It made me rethink the meaning of humanity for me. There is a chapter in the book called “The Death of Miss Jebeen” which describes how a three-year-old girl ended up becoming a martyr along with her mother. Even the thought about this gives me Goosebumps.

There are many villains in the story. In fact, every character is a villain of some or the other kind. What J&K was left in my mind after reading the book? The J&K which is explained in this passage:

“In every part of the legendary Valley of Kashmir, whatever people might be doing—walking, praying, bathing, cracking jokes, shelling walnuts, making love or taking a bus-ride home—they were in the rifle-sights of a soldier. And because they were in the rifle-sights of a soldier, whatever they might be doing—walking, praying, bathing, cracking jokes, shelling walnuts, making love or taking a bus-ride home—they were a legitimate target.” 

Please understand this is one of the most political books I have read, and it happened to have quite a lot of vitriol in it. But then when I read, I dissociate and see from different perspectives. If your are in any way bothered by such thoughts, don’t read it.

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I= Ireland of Nora Roberts

Have you ever visited the place in your dreams and imagination so much so that you feel that you will recognize it just on sight? Ireland is that place for me. I know I am running late, and “I” was supposed to cover “I” yesterday, but better late than never, right? (And I’m truly sorry, but I was healing.)

I equals Ireland, the Ireland I saw while reading Nora Roberts. I know people think of romance as fluff writing and a thing of teenage fantasy or frustrated women. But I am not ashamed to say that I love good romance. If it would not have been for romance books, I would never have seen so many things and places (And no, I am neither a teenager, nor frustrated).

Nora Roberts has a trilogy which is called as Concannon Sister Trilogy/ Born In Trilogy. I have to Google it to find the name of the series, but these books cover Ireland so beautifully. The first book of the series, Born in Fire, is a book which has a female character who is a glassmaker. After reading the book, Ireland became my dream destination and being a glassmaker my dream profession. Sadly, I don’t have the book with me to quote from it directly, but I still have the lines from Nora Roberts Ireland from other book of hers.

“Ireland is a land of poets and legends, of dreamers and rebels. All of these have music woven through and around them. Tunes for dancing or for weeping, for battle or for love.”

I remember the beach and the way the waves crashed over the cliffs in Nora Robert’s Ireland. I can see the color of the sky if close my eyes and think about the story. I can even feel the spray of the water on me. I know there will be a pub where all the locals will sit and share their stories. And when I will travel to Ireland, I will live in a Bed and Breakfast Inn.

I am actually afraid of finding the books and quotes for this place, lest my dream be shattered. What if I have made the place larger than life based on the memory of the book? What if it was just a bad day when the book consoled me and Ireland presented an escape from the reality? The thought terrifies me– that the Ireland which I read in book might turn out to be just an illusion of my mind.

So, dear readers, go and read Nora Roberts “Born In” trilogy. And if by chance, you find it not as beautiful as my dream, please don’t let me know. I want to keep that dream safe. But if you find it as breathtaking as the book describes it, grab a cuppa, drop me a line, and we will journey through that sky, sea and roads together.