Two new novels, one about awoman's wait for her missing son and the other a saga of loss, love and survival are set against the backdrop of Kashmir during the insurgency years.
"The Half Mother" by Shahnaz Bashir is a story of Haleema, whose son Imran is among several hundreds of missing persons in the state, and no one knows whether he is dead or alive.
Her status has been defined as a half-mother by the state following the disappearance of her son. Set in the 1990s, "The Half Mother" published by Hachette India, spans three generations in Natipora near Srinagar - Ab Jaan or Ghulam Rasool Joo, his daughter Haleema, and her son Imran.
"In strife-torn Kashmir, I have always been tormented by the feelings of indefinite and eternal uncertainty. 'The Half Mother' is an outcome of those feelings," says Bashir.
Barely had Haleema come out of the shock of losing her father when one night army personnel took Imran away suspecting him to be a militant. She searched for him in vain often visiting torture camps, jails and morgues and ultimately died without seeing him.
The other book "An Isolated Incident" by US-based Soniah Kamal tells the story of Zari Zoon, a young girl from Srinagar, who lost her entire family in an episode of violence in the Kashmir Valley. It describes the haunting memories and yearnings of a home lost, of a faith continuously tested and questioned, and of a love that blossoms against all odds.
The story moves from Kashmir to Pakistan and finally to America, where the protagonist finds herself struggling to move on with her life. Left alone, Zari is shuttled from one relative's house to another until she finds a more stable place for herself in the house of distant relatives, the Nabis, in America. It is here that she learns the process of healing and letting go, of trying to survive and moving on, of trying to build a life.
The book, published by Fingerprint!, raises intriguing questions about the situation in Kashmir, global politics, personal philosophies, justice, love and survival.