Book Review: The Half Mother
Haleema and Ab Jaan are a family of two – a close unit of a father and daughter. With Haleema’s mom’s passing, Haleema is forced to drop out of school and help her father out. When she is of marriageable age, Ab Jaan marries her off to a doctor’s help, only to be divorced within three months. But then, the marriage yields her her love – Imran, a son who is obedient and a brilliant student. He steps up to help the family out when Haleema is inflicted with Bronchitis, yet manages to study well enough to score good marks. Just when Haleema is settled in her happy life, a nightmare strikes, first taking her father away and then taking her son away. Wrought with fear and sorrow, she starts searching for her son. She becomes decisive that she won’t rest till she finds her son and with tears of sorrow, she continues to search for her son all her life, never giving up. Will she find her son is what the plot is all about.
This book is a interesting read that brings into light the appalling state of mysterious disappearances that has been happening since the late 1980s in Kashmir. It was news to me to read about the atrocities being committed in Kashmir. Like most Indians, I have chosen a side that treated India – a saint but this book makes me question my choice. Kudos to the author to have brought this issue to the limelight.
Many things in this book are plainly endearing. The little songs Haleema sings for her son, the effortless blend of reality with fiction, the relationship of the trio – Haleema, Ab Jaan and Imraan etc. are a huge advantage for the book. The description of Haleema’s struggles for her son is truly heart wrenching and you seriously start wishing that at least now, after all the sufferings, she gets some happiness. The author writes seamlessly and effortlessly and the narration is simple yet it paints a picture of sorrow filled beauty. You read about Haleema and you reach the pain of not one but thousands of mothers’ suffering in the same manner. Another thing to appreciate is the author’s boldness in bringing out the harsh reality to his readers in a contrite yet mildly accusatory voice.
The only thing that didn’t work for me was that the story took an unexpected turn, not to my liking but that is truly no reason to judge a book. On the whole, this book is a definite read if you want a gleam of the deteriorating life in Kashmir.
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