- Author: Ayaz Kohli
- Genre: Contemporary Fiction
- Paperback: 288 pages
- Publisher: Rupa Publications India (20 May 2019)
- Language: English
BLURB as on Goodreads
Jammu and Kashmir, 1987. In the hilly village of pathri Aali, where legends appear true, Aslam and Ashwar, two young lovers, the dream of marriage and of good things of life. But that is not to be. Unable to cope, Aslam leaves pathri Aali forever. Years later, as men migrate to Saudi Arabia for employment, pathri Aali is populated mostly by women and children. Soon they realize the mujahedeen, who guise themselves as their liberators, are the worst perpetrators, and misery seems inescapable. Ashwar refuses to be cowed down by this reign of terror and is determined not to let it devastate the once-peaceful village. The only one she can Bank on is Aslam—and she calls out to him across the distance of time and space, to return and live up to the legends of their village. Snakes in the meadows is a saga of the onset of militancy, and the suffering and the resilience of pir panjal—the ‘and’ of Jammu and Kashmir.
In a really long time, I came across a book which shook my insides and left me contemplating, fuming, crying, all at once. It filled me with so many emotions drawing out my humanity and heart to the ones who were meted out extreme suffering. I felt for them, for all those innocent humans who were subjected to brutality and horrendous inhumanity.
Snakes In The Meadows is set in the beautiful valley of Pir Panjal. This place which is home to mountains and adorable flora & fauna has to face the wrath of monstrosity when some mujahids (militants) encroach upon their heaven. These devils who call themselves true Muslims wreak havoc on the men and women alike. Even the kids have not been spared to satiate their lustful desires. They are symbols of hypocrisy and cruelty. How would the simple denizens of Pathri Aali free themselves from the shackles of this Jackals? Or would they ever be able to?
In the author’s words, “Pathri Aali was witness to a deathly tug of war. On one side were the militants who constantly persuaded them to join the Jihad. On the other hand, was the Army that regularly picked them up for questioning.” Such was the misery of the people of Pir Panjal. They were undergoing the grisly treatment meted out to them by those militants and there was the Army who showed more of indifference if not a concern.
Jihad is described as serving the higher good of the Muslims but in reality, it gives way to perpetual inhumanity. Kashmir has been the spectator of all wars and battles culminating into loss of lives and aspirations. The beautiful valley has been treated badly and its resounding pain reaches its readers’ hearts. The author attempts to paint the true picture with all the shades of love, fraternity, fear, cruelty, valor, patriotism, and humanity. Through Pir Panjal and its misery, he hints at the challenges and consternation the people live in in the remote areas. The book also lashes out the government for being ‘too occupied’ with important affairs that Kashmir is overlooked. The people have to wage a battle on their own for defending and protecting themselves but support is hard to get from our esteemed higher officials.
I loved the whole book. Each page had the ability to keep moving on to next. I didn’t find any reason to put it down. It simply pulled me out of my position and transported me to the Pathri Aali. I cried, I literally shed tears at the heroes being killed, at the women being raped, and at the kids being traumatized. The writing style is undoubtedly flawless here as it captures the true spirit of the book effectively. I couldn’t find any loophole and I am glad that I got an opportunity to read the book for it was an eye-opener and insightful. There are many stories hinged together, each having an independent storyline, yet bound together well to present the true message of the book. The title compliments the narrative perfectly pointing at the snakes (the militants) crawling in the meadows (Pir Panjal). All the individual plotlines have been treated really well, all the characters found space on the stage, all the sequences have been pieced together smoothly. There is no dead end, no cliffhanger. But there’s an end which satisfied me.
For a powerful story with multiple emotions in the backdrop along with a chance to traverse through Kashmir, DO READ THIS BOOK!
MY RATING: 4.5/ 5
BUY YOUR COPY Snakes In The Meadows