Intrigued by many versions or myths around the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits in 1990’s I felt an unexplainable urge to study about the Pandits . Like every other person of my generation I frantically searched my best friends Google , Flipkart , Amazon etc. , etc. Finally after a long search , I found this book ” OUR MOON HAS BLOOD CLOTS ” by Rahul Pandita .
The author’s name assured me of one thing , that a book by Kashmiri Pandit will surely be a first hand in-person account . This really turned out be so , as expected it is a semi-autobiography , but neither dwells into nor highlights his life which happens in every other case.
This book is well-balanced , un-biased and consists of 5 Parts .
The first part deals with outline of history of Kashmir and Jammu intertwined with the beauty and the geography of Kashmir . This part precedes with a short note on the happenings of 1990’s and a small map of J&K . This historical perspective cleared many doubts in my head regarding the nativity of Kashmiri Pandits.The folk stories , narration of festivals especially of Shivratri , the rites and rituals , the ceremony which officially marks the entry of the child to the world of knowledge , are completely absorbing . In toto it was a fascinating journey in a distant land with another Pandit . It is like visiting my own family , of course , which speaks different tongue and is placed somewhere in Himalayas.
My Mom always used to say that Kashmiri Pandits are unbeatable in Sanskrit and Literature , I always wondered , the reason is imminent in the list of books which decorate the author’s parental home at Kashmir in their ‘thokur kuth‘.
Part two deals with the incidents preceding 1990’s exodus . “ Kashmir was like a deer’s neck in a wolf’s grip ” aptly defines the entire situation in a single sentence.1990’s was an era of many changes economically , politically . A minority government was at the helm in the country , a completely new set of reforms were unleashed which were to show its impact in the coming years . This period for the mainland Indians , was a period of jobs other than Government or public sector , but for Kashmiri Pandits it was a life on run . The miscreants cashing in on the vulnerability of these pandits , some other unruly elements coloured with religious fervour magnetising and radicalizing young minds was the norm of the day. In such perplexing situation the author’s father’s words , “ You don’t need to worry about anything else. Where we live , what we eat ,where the money will come from -none of it is your concern . You just concentrate on your studies ” was like a gentle slap which reminds of importance given to studies even in such dire circumstances . .
Part three narrates the aftermath of exodus.It details the wrath of landlords , the dinginess of refugee camps , desperate attempts of women to protect their honour , helpless lives as refugees in their own home country , psychological blows on adults and children alike . The most heart wrenching is the land grabbing of kashmiri pandits by neighbours or sometimes by government for public purposes. Thus cementing the belief that these displaced families can never return to their home.Those who relented to move out are either forced to face most in-humane torture or simply swallowed by the large mouths of barbarism .
Part Four describes the agony of three generations of father’s , son’s , mother’s and daughter’s. It reveals first hand experience of the raid of tribesmen from NorthWest Frontier province straight from the author’s uncle. It nevertheless exposes the savagery and the terror very plainly . The helplessness of a father who loses his coat along with some pennies in the inner pocket drills a hole in every heart .
Part Five Illustrates further the agony of resettlement packages and townships ( also popular as ‘TAAVANSHIPS’ meaning hellholes ) , teaching vacancies in government schools and the vagrancies of life reduced to being a refugee . The siphoning away of funds and the apathy of Government makes the blood boil , for even an outsider like me .
The book ends with a timeline of events happened in Kashmir .
To summarise , in spite of being part of the heartbreaking episode of Kashmir the author pulls of the narration by neither blaming nor inclining to any approach either centrist , leftist or rightist . The only flaw in this book is it is too short to be called the encyclopedia of the Kashmir exodus . This book only blew wind to the spark in my stomach ,now spreading as a roaring fire to read and gather more about the Kashmiri Pandits .
The title of this book” OUR MOON HAS BLOOD CLOTS ” perfectly briefs the deep wounds inflicted on Kashmiri psyche.