After two extensions from the library, I finished this book today “The Collaborator”. This is a novel by first-time writer Mirza Waheed, who was born in Srinagar, Kashmir and now works as an editor for BBC Urdu in London. The novel “The Collaborator” is about a story narrated by a young teenage boy living in an isolated village of Nowgam (near Poshpur) close to LoC in Kashmir happening in the early 1990s when insurgency affects nook and corner of Kashmir.
What I liked about the novel apart from being a candid story on Kashmir was it is from the eyes of ordinary people. There is no glorifying the Azadi movement or tip-toeing the official Indian line of all is well in Kashmir. Of course, you can never write a story of a conflict and be accepted by both sides. The story doesn’t have any heroic scenes or twists, as in real life those are very rare and they discolour the true life of people. It also peeks into thinking of Indian Army deployed in the valley.
Mirza paints in front of our eyes a real remote Kashmir in the foothill of mountains with every day characters of a village headman, a corner shop keeper, a local Pharmacist (semi-doctor) who doubles as an electrician, a mosque and so on. He also brings in the charm of Kashmir’s beauty in the scenes where he talks about the five teenage boys playing in the river, hiking and so on. A good novel to read over the weekend.