Current Issue
Organiser Home
The Moving Finger Writes
Media Watch
Thinking Aloud
Kids Org.
News Round-up
Readers’ Forum:
Kerala Newsletter

Previous Issues
September 04, 2011

August 28, 2011
August 21, 2011
August 14, 2011
August 07, 2011

July 31, 2011
July 24, 2011
July 17, 2011
July 10, 2011
July 03, 2011

June 26, 2011
June 19, 2011
June 12, 2011
June 05, 2011

May 29, 2011
May 22, 2011
May 15, 2011
May 08, 2011
May 01, 2011

April 24, 2011
April 17, 2011
April 10, 2011
April 03, 2011

March 27, 2011
March 20, 2011
March 13, 2011
March 06, 2011

February 27, 2011
February 20, 2011
February 13, 2011
February 06, 2011

January 30, 2011
January 23, 2011
January 16, 2011
January 09, 2011
January 02, 2011

December 26, 2010
December 19, 2010
December 12, 2010
December 05, 2010
November 28, 2010
November 21, 2010
November 14, 2010
November 7, 2010

October 31, 2010
October 24, 2010
October 17, 2010
October 10, 2010
October 03, 2010

2010 Issues
2009 Issues
2008 Issues
2007 Issues
2006 Issues

About us
Contact us


May 15, 2011

Page: 24/40

Home > 2011 Issues > May 15, 2011

Kashmiri exodus A must read
By Tej N Dhar
The Garden of Solitude Siddartha Gigoo, Rupa Publications, Pp 246 (PB), Rs195.00

THE exile of Kashmiri Pandits in 1990 has stimulated a variety of writings. Siddartha Gigoo’s debut novel The Garden of Solitude is yet another addition to their growing number. It recreates the conditions that led to the exile of Pandits from Kashmir and its painful effect on their life in the inhospitable plains of Jammu. It also focuses on its protagonist Sridar’s personal struggle to cope with his changed situation.

In the early part of the novel, we see Sridar live happily with his parents and grandparents and his Muslim neighbours and their children. The close bonding of the two communities is established at various levels. We also learn about Sridar’s fears, stirrings of first love, and his desire to become a writer. Soon after, things change dramatically. Pandits perceive threat and menace in the looks of Muslims, and Muslims begin to distrust Pandits, for being “informers, agents, and kafirs.” Muslim boys cross the country’s border to return with military training and weapons and become militants; they exchange fire with soldiers and police, which results in civilian casualties. Pandits are threatened, kidnapped, and killed, which forces them to flee.

Gigoo’s portrayal of the miserable life of Pandits in Jammu, in cramped, unhygienic tents and hovels, come off very well. They are totally disoriented. Almost all of them curse their fate and “resign to the inevitable.” Sridar’s grandfather Mahanandju, his father Lasa, and several of his friends and acquaintances feel that life has lost its meaning.

Though Sridar, too, feels like that, he does not lose sight of a possible new world. In Baderkote, he keeps himself busy with reading and writing. He also goes places to further his career, and works with a film maker in Delhi. He stays on with his dreams and remembers his father’s advice: to search for shreds of his identity, of “your essence and your own history.” He makes a trip to Ladakh, where he meets Ameira. He becomes intimate with her, wanders around a good deal, and tries to know himself, but the memory of his past makes him feel “a deep void within him.” He goes to America, too, where he meets other Pandits, listens to their stories and opinions, and takes time out to start writing about his ancestors.

Back in India, he revisits the migrant camps, to meet people and listen to the stories of their past. He makes a trip to the Valley, goes to his old home, meets all his old neighbours, and tries to collect information about his great grandfather who was said to have written a book. Soon after his return, his book about his ancestors is launched.

Gigoo has a firm grip on his material, and he writes well. He makes us see and feel the pain and suffering of the Pandits. One feels a little uneasy only when he makes them accept their situation as part of their fate. Nevertheless, his novel deserves to be read and should be of interest to all kinds of readers.

(Rupa Publications, Ansari Road, Darya Ganj, New Delhi-110 002)

Previous Page Previous Page (23/40) - Next Page (25/40) Next Page

copyright© 2004 Bharat Prakashan(Delhi) Ltd. All Rights Reserved
Designed and Hosted by KSHEERAJA Web Solutions Pvt Ltd