Muzaffar Karim presents a short story driven by language, the Kashmiri language, and with a protagonist about to embark on a journey. While waiting, Sultan Saeb voyages through his thoughts into the terrain of memory and into an inner world full of song, verse, and literature—all the while structuring a speech in his head to be delivered at the point of his destination, a Kashmiri language conference. Karim’s story is set in an airport, a transitory space ideal for ruminating and reminiscing, especially for a scholar of the Kashmiri language stuck waiting for a flight that has been “delayed due to bad weather.” The multiplicity found in this subtle piece of fiction complements the many complexities of a Kashmiri language that propels its plot, thematic undertones and narrative style.
Set in Chakothi, a village halfway between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad, Ifreen Raveen’s short story follows the life of Jabar Khan, an old man separated from his family during the partition of Kashmir between India and Pakistan. In focussing on the protagonist’s longing for reunion, Raveen produces a compelling piece of fiction that ascends from an individual’s struggle and grief into the collective state of those displaced and separated during the 1947 partition.
Juvaria Syed introduces a piece of fiction that is an attempted decalcomania of the ruminations of common Kashmiri people—an attempt to chart the dispersed wanderings, expressed in word, that form a variegated Kashmiri consciousness—ultimately resulting in a fictional text that is closer to reality than the framings of most mediatized constructions. The piece is shaped by nine sections that reveal fundamental preoccupations, misgivings, apprehensions, and cynicism that many readers will identify with and are felt during various periods of time. The tone registered in Syed’s fictional prose oscillates between cynical, satirical and parodic in certain parts so as to shed light on how closely the political is intertwined with the absurd in Kashmir. Beyond these limited and summarized descriptions, here is a piece of fiction that maintains a dialogue between the personal and the political. Along the same lines, Syed’s writing finds its creative form between heteroglossia and polyphony—while experimenting with style to give voice to narrators who otherwise are made to remain invisible or are subjected to constant erasures and silences that most Kashmiris are well-acquainted with. The piece is accompanied by a “Reference for Code Switching” (at the end) with the English translations of specific words and terms found in Syed’s writing.
Inverse Journal presents three short stories by Anton Chekhov translated into Urdu and Hindi, and recorded in audiobook format by Adbi Dunya. We have included links to the full text in English translation for each of these stories.
In this third instalment of the Karamat Ali Khan series, O. Kashmiri brings us the fictional account of how the Mountain Side, along with the entire Valley, was sold without the consent of Karamat’s people, and without a means to contest such a ludicrous sale. With all faith exasperated, a miracle within the natural order of things restores what was taken—from the land of the people to the hope seeded deep within its soil. Read on to find out how the snow becomes the medium of that miracle to remedy such a forced mass dispossession.
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.
In this second story from the “Karamat Ali Khan” series, the anonymous O. Kashmiri returns with a dark tale involving Karamat and his four sons who reside on the Mountainside in a fictitious valley where trees are cut, earth is flattened, and roads are paved so soldiers can march with greater ease.
Arif Ayaz Parrey presents a short story revolving around an unconventional father-daughter relationship that, in its greater reaches, encompasses the blunt reality of Kashmir. This piece of fiction comes with a resourceful glossary for those unfamiliar with certain terms and vocabulary in other languages. Parental Advisory: due to the mature content within this short story, reader discretion is advised.
We are proud to present an excerpt from Nitasha Kaul’s latest novel, Future Tense (Harper Collins, 2020), a much awaited literary text following the release of her debut novel, Residue. We have included an official description of the book along with relevant links to familiarize readers with the extensive work of its author.
In the first from a series, O. Kashmiri brings us the short story of a land and its people told through the story of a man and his struggle, as both are inevitably interlinked and bound by grief, despair and hopelessness.
Zahida War presents a piece of fiction that combines poetry and prose to narrate the story of a young Kashmiri woman, Zooni, who returns to her birthplace after living abroad (India) for several years. In the process of her return, Zooni becomes raveled in the militarized reality of Kashmir and its grotesque violence, far from the touristic imaginarium that her host country had built in her mind. Still a young student, Zooni leaves all familiarity behind, along with the illusions formed in her understanding of Kashmir, to engage with a place that is confined to countless devastations, multiple horrors and endless human tragedies. This fictional piece was written in 2016, a painfully symbolic year for Kashmiris, and is accompanied by an afterword by its author.
Muzaffar Karim brings us an excerpt from his post-apocalyptic novel set around 2050 when a nuclear attack by India has wiped off Kashmir from the face of the earth, leaving behind a few survivors. Among them, a few people are still fighting back, including Qais, the narrator, who is part of the Resistance. Qais’s only companion, besides Hamdan, is an old charred children’s book miraculously discovered beneath the rubble. The book narrates the story of the magical valley of Ka and the subsequent weakening of that magic due to the conjured up ‘Grandspell’ by surrounding evil neighbors.
The past few months have pitted us against an apocalypse. The city around us is attaining a new meaning. In this excerpt (Chapter 9 of the novel) Qais and Hamdan reactivate the wrecked subway and see Kashmir from a different perspective.
Jai Anbu’s “Betel Leaves” is a satirical novel about social and religious prejudice against the Dalits’ struggle for identity, dignity and freedom in present day India.
A silvery brook meanders way through a village towards paddy fields. Here extremes of beauty and poverty exist side by side. The Dalit villagers scratch a living from the fields. They are easy prey for corrupt politicians who steal their land, even those places reserved for funeral pyres. Guruji, a spiritual master, has come to their village and bought the land. He builds an ashram from where he plans to enlighten the world. Trouble erupts when the villagers cross the boundaries set by the dominants.
All the way from Berkeley, California, Glenn Ingersoll brings us six chapters of “Autobiography of a Book,” the story of a book “willing itself into existence.” Every word of “Book” brings you firsthand its progress toward achieving its dream, its dream of being what it claims to be, a real, honest-to-goodness book.
Reader take note, the first chapter includes some content of a possibly sexual nature.