In the year 1990 I was probably running down the tea gardens outside my house in gay abandon. In the year 1990 a 14 year old boy and his community were forced in to an exile which they have still not managed to come out of.
‘Our Moon Has Blood Clots, The Exodus of the Kashmiri Pandits’ is a memoir written by Rahul Pandita, a Kashmiri Pandit and a journalist.
The 256 pages of the book and the timeline at the end of the book tell a tale that many of us are familiar with but vaguely. In ‘us’ I refer to people who have known that Kashmir has faced problem (s), thanks to TV and the newspapers and that a certain Pandit community faced exodus years ago.
The memoirs are moving and it is not just in the way they have been written. The stories of brutality, atrocities on men, women and children, episodes and incidents that have been narrated are gut wrenching and heart pulling. There is kindness also but largely there is blood and hunger and loss.
This sense of loss that the author has felt and that, which has stayed with him since the age of 14 when he was forced to leave Kashmir along with his family, pervades the book. You don’t feel like stopping in between but you will have to. In fact many times; may be over and over again, often during the course of reading a single page as your eyes moisten making it difficult to proceed.
There is a Kashmir- the one equated with paradise- that Pandita has seen and lived in his childhood, one that he had to flee and then there is a Kashmir, in tatters, that he often goes back to, which must have initially taken a lot of courage. His own story holds you by the cuff. There are people from the community he meets with in the refugee settlements where hardly ever there is water and electricity. Their stories don’t let go of you either.
His sense of loss and homelessness is a personal tragedy but in the book he also reflects on the political tragedy, insensitivity and mockery that people in effective places have made of it.
I have often wondered what leads men to be brutal to others of their own species.
The tears or the wailing cries for mercy and help would sound the same in any language; even then men turn in to beasts and carry out such acts of violence that makes really wonder what could possess such men. There are many such horror stories recorded here as the author says that he has ‘reduced my life to names and numbers. I have memorized the name of every Pandit killed during those dark days, and the circumstances in which he or she was killed. I have memorized the number of people killed in each district. I have memorized how many of us were registered as refugees in Jammu and elsewhere.’
The worst part is that this tragedy stuck Kashmir not once but twice. Most of my generation would not be aware of the loot and plundering caused at the hands of the Pak-aided tribesmen from the NFP in an attempt to occupy it.
Our Moon Has Blood Clots is also a reflection of many authors, poets and philosophers that have impacted the exiled life that Pandita’s led. In the terse book, you come face to face with the 14 year old often. At times you come across a grown-up angry man, at times a helpless watcher but at all times you are confronted with a question how could this have happened.