“Darya , kohsaar , chaand , Taary
Kya jaany Firaaq o Naasaboori.”
( Allama iqbal )
We have been witnessing some talented young kashmiri writers making commendable efforts to depict the grievous story of kashmir in fictional way to reach extended audience.
Kashmir Rage and Reason by Gowhar Geelani , Basharat Peer’s Curfewed Night , Lost in Terror by Nayeema Mehjoor ,Prisoners Of Paradise by Asif Khan , The collabolator by Mirza Waheed are some of the attempts enthralling a lot of readers , as they are loaded with painful incidents and bitter realities with which every single kashmiri is familiar with .
The Half Mother by Shanaz Bashir has successfully depicted the agony and torment experienced by kashmiri mothers during 90’s and even today .
Haleema , the main character of the novel , her son Imran , depicted as one of the many thousand disappeared youth.
After the death of Haleema’s mother , boba ,she gets married to a Medical Assistant , unfortunately divorced a few months later. This is her first tragedy .
Imran continues to grow into an efficient individual, very soon he becomes light of his mother’s eye.His upbringing is replete with incidents that every growing child in Kashmir experiences , Crackdowns , Curfews , killings , blasts , shutdowns , funerals , mournings and encounters becoming a part of his life like any other Kashmiri.
Crackdowns and raids by security forces to deal with the swelling militancy are a common woe making the life a hell in the paradise of yore.
One day Haleema’s house falls prey to such routine crackdowns and raids and her father , Ab Jaan , gets killed in the encounter after his altercation with the security forces.
Plunging Haleema into another grief , her house is raided again and the apple of her eyes ,Imran ,is arrested and taken to some unknown place . Haleema makes tearful pleas with the army major to leave her innocent son , this incident makes the beginning of the most harrowing phase of her life , deteriorating her physical and physiological health. By bereavement of her son , leaving her a total destitute , without any support of life in her advancing age and wrecked health.
Haleema now starts journey of tracing the whereabouts’ of her only son , moving from one army camp to other but all in vain . Even electronic media seems helpless , finally a journalist named izhar promises to help her and gets the news about disappearance of her lone son published in a local daily.
With the hope of finding imran ,she visits places_from house of ministers to notorious interrogation centres but returns desperate failing to find his whereabouts’. In another despondent attempt Haleema exhorts the victims of similar injustice to form an “Association of Relatives Of Disappeared Persons”… to fight for their due cause.
Haleema ,with some other members of the association even met the then chief minister of the state , unfortunately he seemed helpless and expressed his inability to help them out.
Despite facing the high-handedness of the army , Haleema continues to search for Imran. Many a time reading this book ,I could not hold back my tears , how author has described the pain of a mother who hopes for her son to return.
With the hope of Imran return, Haleema breathes her last , with the words as “
Imran seeba aakha.?
“ dard ho dil mae toe dawa kijay
Dil hi jab dard ho toe kya kijay ”
(Asadullah khan Ghalib )
“ The half mother “ has successfully taken up the cause of delineating the pain and sufferings of kashmiri people in the recent past.
ABOUT THE REVIEWER
Mir Muhammad Nayyar Azam is pursuing Masters in Economics at SMVDU