Rumours of Spring is tender, provocative, and resilient
Life in Kashmir — through the eyes of a young girl.
The best birthday present :)
Before anything else, you must know that Rumours of Spring by Farah Bashir is the first of the five books I started reading and completed this year. Friends I love a lot, gifted it to me on my birthday knowing too well that there is nothing else that can melt my heart as much. This is one factor, besides the book itself, that got me out of my reading slump.
Also, following Rumours of Spring, with Munnu, a boy from Kashmir, offered a more nuanced perspective of life in Kashmir for me. Both the books are set in a similar premise — both are stories of young people growing up in the Kashmir conflict, yet the experiences differ greatly — the reality of life and also the reason why I love to read books. 😀
Rumours of Spring — A girlhood in Kashmir
Three words wandered in my mind while I was reading this book and I wish to share my feelings about the book through these three words:
- Tender: While I was reading the book, I had the constant urge to gently cup my hands around Bobeh (the author’s grandmother) and the author’s faces. I wanted to send some love and warmth towards both of them, to make them feel, at least for a few brief moments, that things will be alright.
That is the beauty of Farah Bashir’s story-telling. The book is a collection of anecdotes from the protagonist’s growing up years in Kashmir told with much sensitivity and tenderness, where the common thread remains Bobeh’s funeral preparations. The stories are everyday happenings in the life of a young girl living in a conflict zone. Only nothing is ordinary or mundane and no day is similar to another and I don’t think we can ever fathom what life is like in Kashmir.
2. Resilience is not a choice, it is the way of life! If those of us living in non-conflict areas plan our meals, cab rides to work and back, clothes to wear on a usual day, in Kashmir, they are preparing for maybe a grenade blast in the area, news of family members who may be shot dead, or a curfew! How does one live like that, you may wonder, but that is their normal, their routine!
It was heartbreaking to read the author’s thoughts, where her young self wonders what life is like without deaths and cross-firings. In the chapter, I grow up to be collateral damage, the author recalls covering her books with newspapers before the school year begins as there is a shortage of brown paper. When she notices full-colour ads in Indian newspapers about mattresses, colognes, and the everyday mundane she wonders what advertisements could deaths, cross-firings, war, blasts, bombs, and rifles would inspire. Is that something a child must wonder about? I don’t think so!
Despite all this, people in Kashmir choose life and that is resilience for me.
3. Provocative: The author’s writing and the stories are provocative and she does it so gently and quietly, with love and care. Provoking or bringing attention to something important can be done with tenderness. I don’t know if the author deliberately chose the voice or if it comes naturally, but it is another aspect of the book I deeply appreciate. Simply by existing in the situation that is Kashmir and sharing her stories like a friend who’d call you to tell what happened at school or at work, the author’s language is provocative!
Also, I couldn’t hold back from comparing my life as a woman to the author’s and realising for the millionth time that all women go through the same troubles, only in varying degrees! See period cramps and hormones. While I experience pain that sometimes I pass out from, I have the choice to take the day off and pass out comfortably. But the author describes how she couldn’t move or get up to use the washroom till the day breaks, as this would cause sound and movement that can trigger the officers stationed nearby to shoot! Why must women live like that? It makes me angry and sad, but what can I do, other than mention the anger I feel in blog posts such as these and hope someone might care a little more about women!
The stories also cover how PTSD manifests itself physically and emotionally and how the author herself suffered. I am intentionally not going deeper into this because the subject of PTSD is triggering for me. There are several happy moments too, but the fear of existence dominates everything else, leaving no space for the little solace the author may have felt occasionally!
I definitely recommend this book. It is books like Rumours of Spring that exist to educate us and help us learn about different ways of life and perspectives. They give us the choice to rid ourselves of unreasonable biases. Or that is the constant hope I live in!
Originally published at http://wetalkbooksclub.wordpress.com on February 12, 2022.