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Author Interview: A paean to the beauty of Kashmir
The Night of Broken Glass by Feroz Rather is a collection of short stories set in contemporary Kashmir and provides the readers a glimpse of the courage and daily life of its people
Over the last three decades, Kashmir has become one’s worst imagination of hell. While reams have been written on the war — in human rights documents, academic thesis, non-fiction accounts of the turmoil, and government and military reports — the effects of the violence on its inhabitants have rarely been rendered in fiction. Feroz Rather’s debut book, The Night of Broken Glass, corrects that anomaly.
Through a series of interconnected stories, within which the same characters move in and out, the author weaves a tapestry of the horror Kashmir has come to represent. His visceral imagery explores the psychological impact of the turmoil on its natives — Showkat who is made to wipe off graffiti on the wall of his shop with his tongue; Rosy, a progressive, jeans-wearing ‘upper-caste’ girl who is in love with ‘lower-caste’ Jamshid; Jamshid’s father Gulam, a cobbler by profession who never finds his son’s bullet-riddled body; the ineffectual Nadim ‘Pasture’ who proclaims himself a full-fledged rebel; even the barbaric and tyrannical Major S who has to contend with his own nightmares.
A society that is brutalised by the oppression of the state and fissured by the tensions of caste and gender, Feroz Rather’s debut could be considered as a paean to the beauty of Kashmir and the courage of its people. A doctoral student of Creative Writing at Florida State University, Feroz says, “If you grow up in Kashmir, the political violence seeps into you. One feels compelled to bring to light the brutalities one has witnessed. Through this novel, my aim was to achieve a whole that is bigger than the individual parts.”
This is Feroz’s debut book and he has selected one of the most sensitive topics discussed in India. “You do not choose to write about things. It cannot be that simple. One is born into a language; one inherits a culture and a history. A fiction writer is committed to writing but it is not always he writes about the subject. It can be the other way around too where the subject that is buried within your consciousness is writing itself through you,” the author shares.
Though he didn’t do much research, the book was more of contemplating and probing Feroz’s own past. Writers owe readers a takeaway and The Night of Broken Glass takes away our ready-made notion about Kashmir.
“Fiction often assumes that readers share with the writer a certain cultural context. Many a time, media has obfuscated and misrepresented Kashmir — I hope my book gives a clear picture about the life in Kashmir,” he remarks.