I finished Our Moon Has Blood Clots a couple of days back and usually I can’t wait to put down my thoughts once i’ve finished a book, but for this one I am hesitant to do so. There are two reasons for this. First, the sensitive nature of the book is making me conscious to review it honestly and I’m unable to find the words to do so tactfully and secondly, I feel inept to pass opinion on something I was unaware of till 10 days ago. Nevertheless, I will try and unscramble my thoughts.
I was born in 1989. Sometimes I feel for the past 30 years I have been living under a rock, oblivious to the issues prevalent in the society. It is only in the last 5 years that I have gone above my selfish interests to look at the world around me. The exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from Kashmir occupied a small part of my memory – probably read it in a book, or related it to an opening scene from Mission Kashmir where a doctor was ordered to not operate on Hindus – but never enough to sincerely pay heed to the plight of the displaced.
Our Moon Has Blood Clots reveals a period in Indian history which is horrifying for anyone who takes a moment to reflect and empathise with the sufferers. On 19th January 1990, thousands of Kashmiri Pandit families were forced to leave their homes with hastily packed belongings in whatever transport they could find.
Prior to this book, I had assumed that the Kashmir dispute started with the partition in 1947 and while there is some truth to it, the communal unrest in the region between the two religions – Hinduism and Islam had started long before in 1390. What transpired that night and the lead up to the events is highlighted in this book.
With Our Moon Has Blood Clots Rahul Pandita has taken a herculean task upon himself – to be the voice of the hundreds of thousands people who experienced atrocities and 3 decades later continue to live in exile. His memoir is a reflection of his own struggles and stories of family and friends around him. These stories are so powerful that at times the book couldn’t do justice to them, it was almost that the book was crushed under its own weight.
In the first 50 pages I found the writing to be disjointed. Incidents were quoted from the years 1990, 2004 and 1980 all in a couple of pages, and I found it difficult to settle into the narration. A similar pattern was repeated in the latter half of the book. A character was brought into the story without any introduction and I had to go back and see if I missed it the first time. Rahul Pandita held up his end by reciting his story, which had had to be a harrowing experience for him, but what the book was missing was a good editor.
To get a different perspective, I decided to watch Shikara, a movie by Vidhu Vinod Chopra who is also a Kashmiri Pandit. The movie is set in the same time period and shows the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from the valley, but is heavily focussed on the love and life of a Kashmiri Hindu couple. Honestly, it’s a cheesefest and it took away from the central issue, for this, the movie faced a lot of flack from the critics. But what was interesting is that many scenes in the movie were picked up directly from the book. A quick search on Google and I found out that Rahul Pandita was also the writer of the movie.
I have refrained from commenting on the reasons that led to the exodus. On the internet one can find conspiracy theories, blame games and different perspectives of what happened 30 years ago and what should happen today. As a privileged North Indian who has never felt the pain of losing her home and being discarded from her hometown, I don’t think I have the right to speculate or pass judgements. I can only hope that justice is served for all those who are suffering and that more people acknowledge this dark past in our history.
“Another problem is the apathy of the media and a majority of India’s intellectual class who refuse to even acknowledge the suffering of the Pandits.”Rahul Pandita, Our Moon Has Blood Clots