Conflict generates content. It has to be tapped by journalists, poets, artists, authors, storytellers or even by craftsmen. It is an art to present it before the world in varying formats people are interested in. They like to savour it according to their preference for certain genre of art and literature. So the people going through it are under obligation to produce every sort of artistic and literary work to document the phases of their strife. It ameliorates the quality of their lives, makes it less regressive besides telling outsiders what they don’t know about it.
Of late Kashmir too generated its breed of young authors who successfully penned down accounts highlighting one aspect or other of this long ensuing conundrum. In this pursuit the new millennium of 21st century proved effective in yielding a dozen of publications that were recieved enthusiastically by the literates here turning them into readers. The unique style, power and impact of these books nudged each of its readers to not put it down before showering praise on its author.
The Curfewed Night by Basharat Peer has a pioneering role and has opened new vistas to explore for the followers. It is hard to say whether it is the influence of the story or the storyteller that makes an enthralling reading of these editions. But all of them grabbed the attention they deserved and proved catalytic to produce more such volumes. Each detailing the same saga wound around different periods or possibilities of presentation.
With the beginning of new decade of this millennium one more book was added to this genre. It is a fiction again written by a journalist with years of first hand experience of this hostility between two nations. It is different in the way that it has build over the theme of romance and innocence amid blood and sufferings prevalent all around. It is deeply engrossing for it explains things without emasculating them of their native touch.
The Life in the Clock Tower Valley builds itself over two parallel stories through which many of our inherent biases, controversies, corruptions have been pinpointed. The author has all along remained apolitical in this exclusively political affair. Nowhere has he tried to put reader face to face with any disturbing situation that would lead him to draw perplexing conclusions. He has given situations purely devoid of drama and has egged the reader to make of it whatever he is capable of making using his own intellect.
Although the book is a novel but no native would treat it so after going through it. All the people, places, performances, products mentioned in the book seems real adopting procedures that are commonplace here in the valley. It has talked about everything be it our customs, traditions, habits, tastes, beliefs, myths or superstitions through the lives of its characters. Since the characters are local inhabiting real places therefore their stories also seem truthful.
The author has talked about daily struggle of commuters travelling in decrepit matadors of Srinagar through the lives of two university students tangled in a love affair. The kind of discussion passengers make as travel time keeps on elongating beyond reasonable calculations. By introducing the begger who laments before people travelling in these vehicles but fails to grab attention for all of them were busy with their mobile phones except few. This shows the irony of ill-use of technology on our part or the mundaneness of such tragedies failing to evoke emotions of people any longer here.
Moreover the changing engagements of youth with the coming of internet and diminishing of traditional social spaces has also been dealt with the help of same characters. Use of social media to woo the opposite gender and incidence of crimes due to animosity harboured through it has been mentioned through the refrence of a news of murder of a teenager.
Similarly the political intricacies of Srinagar found as Sher-Bakra bickering has been beautifully depicted through the legend involving a man from the nomadic community. He has to bear the brunt of this mindless hostility while he was on his visit to SKIMS for treatment. The gravest part of this enmity separated the two main characters of the novel from getting married as their families profess two opposite ideologies.
With the help of allegories the author has highlighted many of our collective infirmities. By citing the examples of a female matchmaker whose marital life in the city proved unsuccessful for she belonged to rural area. In another illustration the depravity of in-laws towards their daughter-in-law for she was unable to conceive for long so had to face their unrestricted jibes and taunts. The unmutabale role of faith healers (pirs) in such cases has also been explained well with a tint of humor and sarcasm.
Our system of belief and its changing intricacies among our youth has been thrown light over by using the parable of an Imam, who changed his lifestyle after attending a religious seminary outside state. The interplay of innocence between a loony youngster named Pintoji and Sana, a little girl has showcased many dogmas our society is founded on. A slap on the face of Samar in public transport by some self appointed moralist on finding him caressing the hand of Rabiya, his beloved shows another anomaly we are face to face with.
The general plight of people has been manifested through the story of a family losing their cow amid curfew. This might seem weird to some given the loss of human lives we witness on daily basis but it is not out of sync with the plot of this novel. The cost of conflict on the city of Srinagar has been depicted by saying that after eight in the evening only rodents, dogs and journalists would remain in the streets. The author, himself a journalist, has thus tried to wryly recognize the role of journalists while giving larger picture of the state of affairs on display here.
The damage done to our water bodies by encroachments and pollution has been lamented by taking a foreign tourist on the voyage of Dal lake. It has been culminated that the erstwhile splendour and aura of these vital assets can now only be recalled but not recreated again. This explains everything about our intelligence and perseverance to save these gifts of nature from getting vanished. Little we care, for we have got reduced to beings who only know the art of self gratification. The pessimism has taken best out of us and this pessimism nourishes and flourishes on the crop of conflict which never ceases to grow in any season.
The book is thus a worthy addition to your bookshelf and deserves equal appreciation as that of its predecessor publications. It will only provide food for your thoughts to do dissection of your situation in a different fashion. It will neither influence your established notions nor make or break any of your affiliations. It will solely take you on the ride to explore your status vis-a-vis the obtaining circumstances we all have got mired into.