Childhood, parental love and care, memories, innocence, importance of one’s friend in life, suppression, humiliation, killings, interrogation centers, renegades, revenge and slavery is what story revolves around.
The author of this book Shoeb Hamid is working in one of the reputed and widely circulated dailies of Kashmir. He works in Rising Kashmir as senior journalist and editor. This book is a fiction and is his first debut book. The book comprises nine chapters divided into two parts.
The story of this book starts with the three little kids living in one of the houses near the river with their parents – Saad, Obaid and Samir. Saad and Samir are brothers while Samir their cousin. One day they plan to venture out of their home on Sunday to climb the hilltop whose view was visible from the window of their house. On that particular Sunday they left early morning from their home to set their tender foots on that hilltop. They take with them few slices of bread, apples and a bottle of water. On the way towards the hill which is nearby these kids discuss many things and think those things differently as per their own imagination and thinking.
In the second chapter of this book there was a house in their neighborhood which is of sofis. The boys especially Samir was very curious to know about the house. Samir once in wedding feast with his mother in the neighborhood enters sofis house. As he enters he was looking around when suddenly a bully boy caught hold of him and he latter narrated this to his cousin. As a grown up child Samir started to question authority. He developed a rebellious attitude.
As the story moves the author writes how Samir along with his neighborhood friends went into the farm to steal corn and get caught and were beaten. Their playing in the nearby field and swim in the river. Once Samirs father beat him and how Samir take it as humiliation and insult.
In the fourth chapter Samir and Zubair a neighborhood boy became friends. They discussed many issues and Zubair always spoke his heart out to Zubair. Samir was always welcomed in Zubairs house while Zubair doesn’t get the same treatment in Samirs house. In Zubair, Samir found brother. Samirs parents try a lot from beatings to advices but Samir didn’t change his behavior and mind.
As the story moves further to the second part which I mentioned earlier, Shoeb Hamid beautifully takes us to another journey of the same story. Here a reader feels bit confused but it is author’s ability to give the story a different angle and taste. Dr Asrar who was a psychologist went to the office of Mubashir who works there as a journalist in one of the conflict zones of this globe. Dr Asrar met Mubashir and narrated him the story of Samir and wants him to get it published. Dr Asrar while narrating the story told Mubashir that when insurgency began to show its presence the three boys living in the same house joined three different outfits. With the insurgency and rebellion there came bunkers, check posts, barricades, armed vehicles in every nook and corner of the valley. This makes lives of people hell as the street dog enjoys more freedom than the inhabitants of that place mentioned in the book.
Fighting between rebels and armed forces becomes common. Once a sentry emptied his gun from the bunker onto the flowing waters of the river without any reason or provocation. The life of the people got totally disturbed amid chose and uncertainty. Renegades unleashed a region of terrorizing people into submission. They were created by state machinery and were devoid of calling them as human beings. They were worst then animals, simply they were killing machines. Samir too wanted to join the armed resistance but wants his own outfit based upon his own ideology and principles. Majority of rebels lack training and the most important thing discipline. Instead of hitting the target they hit themselves and got killed.
No one was above the law in the democratic and civilized world but in conflict zone who holds gun always performs above the law. The rivalry between different groups led them to destruction. The purpose for which they came into being was same of all these groups but their foolishness and short mindedness led them to destruction whose consequences people suffered.
The author writes that when Samir once in the dead of night thinks of crossing the mountain for arms training from Afghans who fought against Russians. He thinks if he didn’t come back and got killed in those mountains, who will take care of his ma and baba, will people miss him, will I miss them after my death. Does a dead person miss people?
The crackdowns become common where all including children were paraded before an armed vehicle in which an informer was sitting to identify those who are rebels or have any link with them.
Jails and interrogation centers were full of captive rebels so the policy was adopted to kill them instead of keeping them in prisons. Kill and surrender have become a profitable business for different agencies. Each tried to get maximum share. The author talks about how one day troops cordoned the whole neighborhood especially the house of Sofis. Firing started and in no time Shabir got killed along with Zubair, Samirs childhood friend. Whole of the neighborhood vibrated with shirks, wails, chants and hollers. While it became apparent and sure that it is Anja (Renegade) provide information to the forces.
Samir wanted to eliminate Anja who has become mesence to the society. Samir wanted to kill him even with a pencil so Samir himself made a gun to shoot Anja. Renegades have unleashed a region of terror from killings to extortion, from kidnapping to force people to give away their daughters in their marriage or face consequences Writing and drafting a story is an art which is not every ones cup of tea. The best part of fiction is imagination which is missing in Shoebs book. It is journalistic in nature. There are also few mistakes (very less) which must be taken care in next addition. If an ordinary story written in a well format put more impact on its readers than a good story written in a vague style. It feels that the book was written in a hurry.
If the story was elaborated more and in a lucid language it would have put much better impact on its readers. The author being working in one of the reputed media houses of valley, I as a reader expect more from his pen and wish him good luck for his future endeavors.