It was while browsing Facebook that I came across some feeds, which talked about a program by author Paro Anand. So while checking out books from the library I happened to notice the name in the lists and browsed the books. As is my wont, I did not check for reviews. The name ‘Weed’ caught my attention and I borrowed it. Thus, my rendezvous with Indian authors continue.
When I got the book, I checked the blurb and found that it was about Kashmir. Now, I have read about Kashmir in the newspapers and watched the happenings in Kashmir on television. But I don’t remember giving much thought about the plight of innocent children in Kashmir, many of whom are deprived of a decent education and a normal childhood. This book shows how much children yearn for an education and how most of them are denied this basic right. ‘Weed’ left me with the above thoughts and a heavy heart.
Anand has woven a very poignant tale about the children in Kashmir and how they want to go to school against all odds but are unable to do so. The story is about a broken family, with two children who are separated from their father, who joins the Jihadis. The sons want to follow in their father’s footsteps, without understanding what that entails. The mother is steadfast in her belief that violence is no solution and this has to end. She doesn’t want to send her sons, but relents when the younger son Umed is adamant to look for his father. She lets him go to meet his father much against her philosophy. Will she and her older son meet Umed in the end, will they be able to see the light at the end of it all, is what ‘Weed’ is all about.
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- The book is very well researched and transports you to war-torn Kashmir. The state of Kashmir’s people is so well-written that it can be pictured in the mind’s eye and sends a shiver down the spine. The story has captured well the minds of children and how their minds work.
- That every moment people live in fear, unsure about their future, leaves you with a sense of desperation for your own countrymen.
- The pathos of the mother and the restlessness of the older son causes a lump in your throat.
- The rare moments when the mother feels happy and tries to cheer her son are very touching.
- How a mother in her own inimitable way is able to change the mind of a would-be jihadi to return home, but is unable to convince her own son in not treading the same path.
- The narrative of this book is simple, touching and spellbinding. Mature writing at its best. The narrative held me captive till the last page.
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- “We are the weeds. The wild unwanted things. Who wants weeds?” thinks Umed. This shows how disillusioned a youngster becomes and the height of frustration and helplessness he feels at the situation in Kashmir.
- Does make me wonder how the small boy Umed who is mature at one time is totally immature at another time and makes an impulsive decision to meet his father who is with the jihadis.
The above lines are resounding in my ears long after I closed the book.
It is an absolute page-turner.