Shabir Ahmad Mir presents a short story that unfolds in an undisclosed setting, with characters that lack proper names. The absence of specificity in this piece of short fiction allows for an emphasis on multiple metaphors, with a set focus on its action and its descriptions. Within its plot and narration, a “soldier-king” embarks on a gruesome and tortuous journey with “the Body” in what can perhaps be considered one of the darkest pieces of short fiction to find its way into the corpus of contemporary Kashmiri literature in the English language. As such, extreme reader discretion is advised given the portrayals of graphic violence with which this text confronts its reader. In reference to his novel “Yalo” (Picador, 2009), the Lebanese author Elias Khoury once said, “Writing is a mechanism of resistance, a mechanism against torture.” Perhaps such words may find considerable validity in Mir’s short story as the weight of an act—or series of acts—lingers perpetually, while the disposable becomes irremovable and unerasable, like a permanent burn mark on the one who carries out the act or series of acts. Whether the plot to Mir’s story is circular in structure and whether the story contains a circular ending is debatable and equally probable.
Shabir Ahmad Mir brings us a bone-chilling story that is set in a seemingly post-apocalyptic world where water and its purity and sustainability are at the core of narration and plot. Author of the upcoming book “The Plague Upon Us” (Hachette India, April 2020), Mir produces here a story that could easily be classified under the genre of science fiction from Kashmir. Even though the story does not have a concrete setting, if read from a Kashmiri frame of mind, it works as hyperbole fused with a metaphor for present-day Kashmir in its path towards impending doom. Readers from all across the world will be able to draw their own parallels and inferences since the story covers many relevant issues such as resource depletion, sustainability and human conflict, all revolving around the theme of survival.