Saturday, May 6, 2017

Book Review: Jihad in my Saffron Garden by Roxy Arora

Name of the Book: Jihad in My Saffron Garden
Author: Roxy Arora
Star Rating: 4 stars 
Goodreads: Read the Blurb here 

The Story:
About a young Hindu girl who had to leave Kashmir behind to survive. There are many such stories - so what's so special about this one? I personally feel, in this story, the author has taken a stand and portrayed a belief as to why this is happening and who are responsible for this. I just hope the readers get it - it's not about Hindus and Muslims believing in their ideologies, it's about selfish people using that belief to get what they want. 

Every Indian has one dream. To live in a world where life is not controlled by your religious inclination. Where life can stop - to see the beauty of a field laden with the saffron flowers. Where Life does not wait to be snuffed out due to one sect's fanatism. That my dear friends, is the Kashmiriyat of Roxy Arora's Jihad, My Saffron Graden.

My bucket wish list is yet not fulfilled ...
As a child, I always had one dream - to visit the snowy peaks of the mountains of Kashmir. As I grew up, I saw many snowy peaks - from the Kailash in Nepal to Matterhorn in Switzerland but none could quench my thirst for the peaks of those peaks made popular by the movies of the seventies  - the Kishtwar Himalaya, popularly called  Sickle Moon Peak. But every damn time I planned a trip there, the news would be flooded with the bombings in Kashmir or the attacks on the same land. It has been a 'closer to the home' story for me too. My newly wed friend's husband was caught in the crossfire and gone fore ever. So yes, these senseless killings hurt. Hurt both the parties. Our heaven had turned into a battlefield. 

And here I was crying for not getting my pictures of the snowy peaks whereas out there many girls like Heena were getting raped, brutalized and killed - every day. My woe was a hobby unfulfilled and their woes were all about dreams never realized. My heart goes out for girls like Heena. I still believe that every soul has come to this earth to learn something. To do something very particular to it. But when cases like Jyoti and girls like Heena come in front of me, I often wonder what exactly did they sign up for? I can never ever believe that this was God's wish. I just cannot. Maybe I am not that evolved yet. 

When Roxy Arora introduced me to her Kashmir, I was a bit skeptical. I have always found such stories very limited in their views. We don't have the two sides of the stories on one page. But as an Indian, I really don't care to hear the other side. I want to know why my land is plundered so ruthlessly? The fight is over a land right? Then why spoil an entire generation of youth? Why impart the knowledge of bloodshed?  Where does it say in the Holy Geeta, Holy Quran and Holy Bible that those who are not the true followers of our God are non-believers? 

There is a scene in this book when  Heena in order to protect our protagonist Roshan, cuts her hand and shows the blood to all - how same they are. I don't think we humans don't know about it, we just choose to ignore it. There are many such instances in this book which will make you question the very essence of human believe - what we see, how we see and why we see it.  You can feel the pain of both the sides, both Hindus, and Muslims, living in the fear of being betrayed by a friend or a family member. The worst kind of betrayal of all. 

Fanatics or not, this is one ideology which grips the mind of a particular section of the society. But I don't think that our dear author is also bereft of idealism. Her Kashmiriyat is a dream too. Her reasoning as to what exactly happened to Heena and who was responsible for it and why might be questioned by many. I, for one, want to believe that what Roxy says is true. For the other alternative would shake the very core of my humanity. 

Regarding Rosha Jaan...
There is such a lyricism in the name :) I just had to continue calling her that.  Her love for Aafaq was so subtle and passionate that it didn't overshadow the main subject of the story- yet formed a beautiful backdrop. But ultimately, even the author cannot deny, and as a reader what I felt was - the real enemy was not the fanatics, they are as usual used as weapons by individuals who have their own personal wars to fight. And that is one of the saddest ways to lose one's life. I just hope readers of this book can really understand this message that Roxy has beautifully portrayed. 

The reason for Star Rating:

1. Loved the way she has portrayed this sensitive topic. 
2. Writing is good. 
3. The first few pages is a bit complicated but you need to keep on for getting into the crux of the story and once you do, you will not regret it.
4. The author has taken a stand, and even if her reasoning can be debatable, I want to believe her. 

Grab Your Copy 

1 comment:

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