About the author:
Rahul Pandita is the author of the bestselling book “Hello Bastar: The Untold Story of India’s Maoist Movement”, and co-author of the critically acclaimed book, “The Absent State”. He has reported extensively from war zones including Iraq and Sri Lanka, and Kashmir and Bastar in India. In 2010, he received the International Red Cross Award for conflict reporting.
My thoughts on the book:
It’s difficult to recollect painful memories. But that’s exactly what Rahul Pandita, the author, does through his book, “Our Moon Has Blood Clots”. Just into his teens, at 14, Rahul and his family, who are Kashmiri Pandits, were forced to leave their home in Srinagar because they were the minority within the Muslim-majority state. Being forced to abandon the place they are from, to find themselves without a proper home or foraging for food, or even see others fighting for food isn’t easy or enjoyable. Such events leave a mark on any heart, and it stays longer when the heart is young.
The book however is not just a sob story or a narration of just hardships. Rahul mixes his memories and blends it in the narration. The effect touches our hearts, and we lose ourselves in the reading. Many of us would have scars, but not of such an incident in childhood. So what we read brings us some notion of understanding, and we feel sad that at one time, our country did experience such, and perhaps it is still experiencing it now as well.
I’ll quote a line that to me tells of his understanding of home, his “shahar”: “Shahar was also about friendships, bonding, compassion and what elders called the lihaaz, which, in simple terms, means consideration.” That line means much more when you see its placement, which is right after a paragraph that says there was an irreversible bitterness in those days between Kashmir and India that felt evident by the time children learned the alphabet, and that the minority Pandits felt the wrath of that bitterness. The lines after that quote showed the importance of that lihaaz as he remembers how they bonded, as they went to neighbors’ homes during Eid and wished them and their neighbors did the same during Shivratri, still trying to maintain religious considerations.
For me, this was a difficult read, firstly because I’ve only recently taken to reading non-fiction and I still imagine certain parts of the narration, so it becomes vivid in my head; and secondly because it is recollections of reality that occurred. It’s not a book that can be read over and over again I feel, but it leaves a mark on us with its first read. To me, this has been the best non-fiction of the year so far.
Title: Our Moon Has Blood Clots: The Exodus of the Kashmiri Pandits
Author: Rahul Pandita
Publishers: Random House India
Price: INR. 499
(March 18th, 2013)