Nageen Rather returns to Inverse with a new short story where a “paradox of quantum superposition” like Schrödinger’s cat, both dead and alive, involves the case of a cow lost and found. In both states of loss and re-encounter, the theft of the cow and its supposed return are a burden for the house it belongs to. The nuances of Kashmiri culture, its hospitality and its ways prove to be cumbersome while in the background an indefinite curfew rages on to make things worse in an unfortunate pairing of propriety and misery.
The Story of a Half-Widow — by Nageen Rather
Nageen Rather, who teaches fiction in South Kashmir, brings us a short story about a woman in her early forties whose husband has been enforced disappeared. A lonesome wife and mother to their two daughters, she searches for him for years on end, eventually oscillating between the prospects of a new marriage and the displacing hope of his return as time erodes all expectation. The subject of the story, while sensitive to explore in literary fiction, is in dire need of representation through different art forms to awaken a sense of empathy and awareness that is either absent or invisible (given the difficulty in articulating a language, lexicon and vernacular to approach it in descriptive terms). In this, literature and fiction writing have the power to convey that which evades other genres of writing, offering greater proximity and furthering a deeper understanding of the human condition of those subjected to silence and alienation. Rather’s story makes a clear interjection in provoking reflection along these lines and many others.