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Edited By Adam Rizvi, The India Observer, TIO, NJ: ‘Rumours of Spring’ written by Photojournalist Farah Bashir is by far the first of its kind. It is a poignant account of her childhood spent in the conflict-torn zone of Kashmir Valley. The book talks about the everyday routine of a girl who happens to be in her early adolescence, precisely a childhood spent under siege and war-like situations. The reader feels an emotional attachment to the writer itself because of the overwhelming incidents happening around them. Rumours of Spring take you back to the era of the 1990s when the Kashmir valley is engulfed in curfews, killings, attacks, and siege. And getting raised during this time especially as a girl looks even more difficult. The book is intensely emotional, would not agree more on this but at the same time book insists you rethink certain narratives about Kashmir and its people that have been in the air for quite a long time now. Very beautifully Farah tries to deconstruct them and moves its readers to the core.
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Through this book, one could draw the most of the 90s Kashmir picture in mind when the militancy was at its peak. The book begins with the death of the protagonist’s grandmother and all the other chapters follow. Each chapter in the book talks about different yet terrifying facets of Farah’s life. Night curfews, barbed wires, and killings becoming ordinary things for people is how Kashmir was back in time.
Farah in her book tries to capture all these mundane things with awe to live a peaceful life, to dance to pop songs without any fear, to visit her friends anytime she wishes to, and to send love letters without getting the post office shut. Equally, a reader feels sympathy for the protagonist and her family who live in constant fear.
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The connection gets stronger with the people of the valley too when their rights get denied not once. Farah weaves the threads of her traumatic girlhood into four walls of her room. How she desires to attend school on an everyday basis is so unlikely for children of her age living in other states. She describes the cries of her mother and all other women over the anxieties that surround them after the deadly Kunan Poshpora event in the valley. Women folk often tend to hide their grown-up daughters when night raids used to happen, this depicts the pain and agony they went through.
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The protagonist in her early puberty falls in love with a young boy from her distant relatives and decides to write letters to him to remain connected whilst living in two different states. Her first letter reaches its destination and she gets her reply too but as they say, nothing comes easy. Within a few days, the nearest post office to her house gets closed all of a sudden and her letters find their abode in her cupboard only so does her fragile loving heart. She kept herself busy with nothing and everyday massacres made her feel anxious. Long sleepless nights made her habit of plucking hair become a new routine. Later from the consultation of a doctor, she got diagnosed with PTSD (Post-traumatic Stress Disorder).
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The whole of the book revolves around this young girl and her family, which would be an understatement. This is not only the story of one Kashmiri girl but whole of the Kashmir. How Kashmiri women encounter deadly massacres with fierce hearts talks about their resilience and courage which is altogether very uncommon. The book is a must-read and like said before it is one of its kind in Kashmiri Literature, We need more women writers to talk about life under siege and conflict.
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Curated and Compiled by Humra Kidwai
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