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Behold, I Shine: Narratives of Kashmir's Women and Children

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Set in the once-fabled land of Kashmir, Behold, I Shine moves beyond male voices and focuses, instead, on what the struggle means for the Valley’s women and children—those whose husbands remain untraceable; whose mothers are half-widows; those who have confronted the wrath of ‘Ikhwanis’, or the scrutiny of men in uniform, and what it means to stand up to it all. This book a Set in the once-fabled land of Kashmir, Behold, I Shine moves beyond male voices and focuses, instead, on what the struggle means for the Valley’s women and children—those whose husbands remain untraceable; whose mothers are half-widows; those who have confronted the wrath of ‘Ikhwanis’, or the scrutiny of men in uniform, and what it means to stand up to it all. This book also brings to focus the resilience of the Valley’s women and children—of activists like Parveena Ahangar and Anjum Zamrud Habib, who, after debilitating losses, start human rights organizations; of ordinary homemakers like Munawara who have taken on the judiciary; and of a young generation of thinkers like Uzma Falak and Essar Batool who foreground the interaction of gender, politics and religion, and won’t let Kashmir forget. Stitching together their narratives, Behold, I Shine not only memorializes women’s voices—thus far forgotten, unwritten, suppressed or sidelined—but also celebrates the mighty spirit of the Valley.


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Set in the once-fabled land of Kashmir, Behold, I Shine moves beyond male voices and focuses, instead, on what the struggle means for the Valley’s women and children—those whose husbands remain untraceable; whose mothers are half-widows; those who have confronted the wrath of ‘Ikhwanis’, or the scrutiny of men in uniform, and what it means to stand up to it all. This book a Set in the once-fabled land of Kashmir, Behold, I Shine moves beyond male voices and focuses, instead, on what the struggle means for the Valley’s women and children—those whose husbands remain untraceable; whose mothers are half-widows; those who have confronted the wrath of ‘Ikhwanis’, or the scrutiny of men in uniform, and what it means to stand up to it all. This book also brings to focus the resilience of the Valley’s women and children—of activists like Parveena Ahangar and Anjum Zamrud Habib, who, after debilitating losses, start human rights organizations; of ordinary homemakers like Munawara who have taken on the judiciary; and of a young generation of thinkers like Uzma Falak and Essar Batool who foreground the interaction of gender, politics and religion, and won’t let Kashmir forget. Stitching together their narratives, Behold, I Shine not only memorializes women’s voices—thus far forgotten, unwritten, suppressed or sidelined—but also celebrates the mighty spirit of the Valley.

30 review for Behold, I Shine: Narratives of Kashmir's Women and Children

  1. 5 out of 5

    Sanjukta

    I sincerely hope more people read this book and learn about the struggles of women and children in the valley. The author has beautifully woven together a series of diverse but intersectional stories to explain the many sufferings and trauma of women and children alike. The book overall helped me learn so much more about the state, beyond what is covered in the dailies. It has helped build perspective on issues of Kashmir and will definitely force me to pay more attention to misinformation that I sincerely hope more people read this book and learn about the struggles of women and children in the valley. The author has beautifully woven together a series of diverse but intersectional stories to explain the many sufferings and trauma of women and children alike. The book overall helped me learn so much more about the state, beyond what is covered in the dailies. It has helped build perspective on issues of Kashmir and will definitely force me to pay more attention to misinformation that usually spreads through partisan social media channels. However, I also think it would have been good to read these stories when examined from different lenses. The book doesn’t truly question the premise of the armed struggle itself, rise of militancy, the demand for “azaadi” and the general thread of conflict. There is a focus on some laws like PSA throughout the book but not a root cause story. Though I do credit the author for educating us about these topics, even if briefly. Even if the last chapter touches upon the atrocities of women under the context of religion and social stigma, it does not cover the issue in detail except from the angle of modern feminism. I would’ve certainly liked to read more here.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Bigsna

    I wish this book was more well know and more widely read than it appears to be, even though it is written by a well established journalist who has a significant body of work. So, I am glad to have chanced upon it during one of my browsing binges on Amazon. The author seeks to explore the assumption that women in Kashmir have not suffered the brunt of direct violence as much as men have, and in doing so brings out stories and experiences from Kashmiri women, old and young, which tend to be more d I wish this book was more well know and more widely read than it appears to be, even though it is written by a well established journalist who has a significant body of work. So, I am glad to have chanced upon it during one of my browsing binges on Amazon. The author seeks to explore the assumption that women in Kashmir have not suffered the brunt of direct violence as much as men have, and in doing so brings out stories and experiences from Kashmiri women, old and young, which tend to be more difficult to access not only due to the prevailing 'haalat' or circumstances but also the deeply entrenched patriarchal social structures that they live within. In the wider context of the 'Kashmir issue', the author tries to answer questions like: - does militarisation harden patriarchal structures? - what happens to a woman when her husband 'disappears'? does it change her status in the home? - does she have the right to accept or refuse remarriage? - how has the conflict impacted their freedom to safely move in open spaces? - how does a male dominated society view women who have been assaulted and seen to have brought 'dishonour' to their family or community treated? - how do women deal with and under these situations? Through first hand accounts of tragedy and resilience, one begins to understand how deeply the conflict has impacted lives of women and children, who are left behind to fight for information, justice and closure - many of whom have been doing it for decades. As someone who wasn't deeply familiar with the history of the Kashmir conflict and why it continues to persist, I feel the book provides a fairly objective understanding and historical context. It also helps one understand why Kashmiris view India's presence there as an 'occupation' and why they continue to fight for 'azadi'. I learnt about 'Ikhwanis' for the first time through this book too - captured/surrendered militants turned into pro-government gunmen, nursed by the State and turned on civilians to extract information, often savage in their methods. This created a severe atmosphere of distrust and suspicion amongst Kashmiris, who no longer knew who they could trust or confide into. As I read these stories, one thing that stood out for me in almost each one, and which is summed up in the very last chapters is the gender divide - that despite all the voilence and the loss of loved ones that families endure, instead of coming together to support the women (especially daughters in law), who are either victims of sexual assault or half-widows (whose husbands have 'disappeared'), archaic patriarchal norms kick in stronger at such times and many women are abandoned or asked to leave, as they now bring dishonour to their families. Women who refused to back down from investigating the disappearances of their husbands or sons are also seen as trouble makers and asked to leave. The book does well in disclosing and highlighting the gendered aspects of the Kashmir Conflict. It also makes one aware of how removed we are from the Valley's struggles even though we have been hearing about them for over two decades, and how despite the political narrative and the means of maintaining control, we must consciously 'humanise' our awareness about the conflict and the people who bear the brunt of being the collateral damage in the proverbial crossfire.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Surabhi Sharma

    ‘Behold, I Shine’ showcase the struggle of women and children of Valley of Kashmir. The book is an attempt to give a voice to the forgotten struggle of half of the population; women and their equal contribution in bringing the peace in the valley. The book also brings to focus on the childhood of the Kashmiri children bound to confined in four walls and grow in between gunfire and curfews and seeing a security force check-post on every corner. The book narrates some of the incidents which shaken ‘Behold, I Shine’ showcase the struggle of women and children of Valley of Kashmir. The book is an attempt to give a voice to the forgotten struggle of half of the population; women and their equal contribution in bringing the peace in the valley. The book also brings to focus on the childhood of the Kashmiri children bound to confined in four walls and grow in between gunfire and curfews and seeing a security force check-post on every corner. The book narrates some of the incidents which shaken the valley and still fresh in the mind of the people. They are still trying to cope with the life and move on with the days. I congratulate the author for painstakingly bringing the real stories of Kashmiri women after years of visiting, talking, listening and researching and sometimes get herself in trouble to get the stories out of the land of Kashmir. Behold, I Shine celebrates the mighty spirit of the Valley. https://thereviewauthor.com/

  4. 4 out of 5

    Sayantan Dasgupta

    I would recommend this book to the people who are genuinely interested in studying the Kashmir conflict.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Payal Sachdeva

    Read this book , it’s a difficult read , as the author narrates the real stories of women of Kashmir , depicting the atrocities and how the heinous malevolent acts are thrust upon them... she also talked about the history of Kashmir , citing various newspaper articles, from abrogating the Treaty of Amritsar to accession of Raja Hari Singh , article 370 and much more ... somehow I couldn’t digest many view points she talked about , the book content remains contentious as she incessantly kept on t Read this book , it’s a difficult read , as the author narrates the real stories of women of Kashmir , depicting the atrocities and how the heinous malevolent acts are thrust upon them... she also talked about the history of Kashmir , citing various newspaper articles, from abrogating the Treaty of Amritsar to accession of Raja Hari Singh , article 370 and much more ... somehow I couldn’t digest many view points she talked about , the book content remains contentious as she incessantly kept on talking that Kashmir is nothing but a Kafkaesque universe now. See , I feel one should read the book , who wants to know about the history of Kashmir .. I didn’t form any opinion of any sect of the people residing there , both the indigenous / migrants and the people guarding the valley , as neither I live there nor I am the one guarding it , so my knowledge and understanding are very very limited .. it would be wrong to form any opinion with this limited knowledge and by just reading one book ....i just read it but I don’t want to open a debate on what is right and what is wrong , each reader has to apprehend it and what the readers believe , are subject to their understanding and Ken .....and as the maxim goes “ each coin has two sides “ !

  6. 4 out of 5

    اُمامہ انوَر عابدّ

    My heart hurts. The subject of the sufferings of the Valley of Kashmir is painstakingly tormenting and excruciating.This small volume contains firsthand account of the narratives of the women of Kashmir, who have been exoticised and objectified for so long. From enduring enforced disappearing of the men of their houses, to circling for years between detention camps, Army centers, police stations to find their husbands, fathers and sons,to bearing catcalling, being the victims of sexual violence My heart hurts. The subject of the sufferings of the Valley of Kashmir is painstakingly tormenting and excruciating.This small volume contains firsthand account of the narratives of the women of Kashmir, who have been exoticised and objectified for so long. From enduring enforced disappearing of the men of their houses, to circling for years between detention camps, Army centers, police stations to find their husbands, fathers and sons,to bearing catcalling, being the victims of sexual violence at the hands of military personnel, to organising Azadi Tehriks, sit-ins, Marches to keep the memories of loved-ones alive, to seeking justice in a hopeless world; the Kashmir women have been the epitome of insane bravery and showcase of true feminism. One of the story I remember from my childhood; of two girls who had been raped, killed afterwrads, and thrown into a lake in the Shopian District, stirred an extreme uproar and anger in the valley at that time. While reading the stories of these powerful and mountain-courageous women, I was taken aback and constantly thinking about how can one bear such injustices and inflictions for so long? How can they keep their resolve and perseverance in the face of brutal and gruesome atrocities of Indian military and government and still chant slogans for Pakistan,still wrap their martyrs in Pakistani flags? When will the sun of freedom will rise in the beautiful valley of Kashmir, for these women who have been suffering for decades.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Biswanath Banerjee

    She was in need of urgent medical help-her daughter was shivering from fever. Only a mother can risk her life-letting her out on the deserted road- road that seen wrath of agitators –road that bears the brunt of clash between angry agitator and the security personnel. Yet-she was out! She had to be out! The nearest hospital was barely a kilometre away. There was curfew imposed on the area-now and then –for the last thirty five days. At some point she had to be out on the road- carrying her feveri She was in need of urgent medical help-her daughter was shivering from fever. Only a mother can risk her life-letting her out on the deserted road- road that seen wrath of agitators –road that bears the brunt of clash between angry agitator and the security personnel. Yet-she was out! She had to be out! The nearest hospital was barely a kilometre away. There was curfew imposed on the area-now and then –for the last thirty five days. At some point she had to be out on the road- carrying her feverish child- seeking medical help. And then it all happened. She first encountered a group of security personnel-who assured her to approach. And then there was another group of paramilitary forces- their guns pointed. Sensing danger- she tried to flee. The men opened fire! She was struck with five bullets in her backside! The paramilitary men “tried to drag her still body, face down, across the streets.’’ Gunshots make the people realise something terribly wrong has happened-they came rushing to the spot. But she had already suffered fatal injury by then! Relatives tried to take her to the hospital, but the ambulance in which she has been carried was stopped twice and her in laws have been beaten mercilessly. She fought bravely with death for several months-and with neurological disorder thanks to bullet injuries. But she succumbed....... . Full review at https://jayasreesown.wordpress.com/20...

  8. 4 out of 5

    Aiman Khan.

    "Conflict is now a part of Kashmir's collective psyche." Behold I Shine by Freny Manecksha reflects the relentless courage of women to seek the dawn of their struggles when oppression is their only dark reality. It's more of a journalistic approach towards the grief-stricken stories lived by women of conflict, & children robbed of the colors of childhood, mostly around 1990s yet till date only the characters have changed & the pain is passed on as heirloom. Through stories weaved with sighs & sil "Conflict is now a part of Kashmir's collective psyche." Behold I Shine by Freny Manecksha reflects the relentless courage of women to seek the dawn of their struggles when oppression is their only dark reality. It's more of a journalistic approach towards the grief-stricken stories lived by women of conflict, & children robbed of the colors of childhood, mostly around 1990s yet till date only the characters have changed & the pain is passed on as heirloom. Through stories weaved with sighs & silences, you feel your heart moving to the rhythm of melancholy for you couldn't feel yourself living in their skin wrapped in agonized shades of conflict. The stories, the perceptions, the words uttered by each women are different yet what unites them is that they put up the costumes of wordless loss & enforced disappearances everyday. Even children living in conflict zones know of home as a bruised memory, painted in scars. "Muneer was the collateral damage of 1990s." This book does add multiple dimensions to the lives of Kashmiris & introduces many poems, excerpts written by different Kashmiris from their shattered experiences. What I felt though was that the author has mainly done the work of keenly seeking, asking & assembling voices that have been massacred by the brutal weapons of oppression. Also, according to me, the voice of author is overshadowed by the voices dripping with traumatic experiences. Moreover, this was the first book of author published back in 2017 & the efforts are noteable for it makes you feel for women you haven't known but who aren't so unknown to you. It makes you feel for children whom you have never come across but you can picture them vividly in your mind for you've seen the likes of them right in your neighborhood or maybe you're one of them. Behold I shine is a hopeful title & the cover reflects wait. I'd say that these two reflect a hope that demands patience & waiting.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Avinash

    poorly written book. total misrepresentation of facts. the narrative is fragmented and biased.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Naveed Qazi

    Brief yet powerful. Important addition to the narrative landscape of Kashmir.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Divya

    The book walks us through the lives of many women from Kashmir who have suffered as well as fought bravely for justice and safety. So many facts mentioned were never known to me until I read them in this book.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Yash Sharma

    Kashmir is the real test of secularism in India. - Mahatma Gandhi -------------------------------------------------- Behold, I shine, narratives of Kashmirs women and children, is the stories of those fifty percent of the population, which generally remains hidden from the general public, and especially when someone is living in a land which is under 24 x 7 surveillance. ---------------------------------------------------- THE stories in this book is almost same of all the kashmiri women the Author Kashmir is the real test of secularism in India. - Mahatma Gandhi -------------------------------------------------- Behold, I shine, narratives of Kashmirs women and children, is the stories of those fifty percent of the population, which generally remains hidden from the general public, and especially when someone is living in a land which is under 24 x 7 surveillance. ---------------------------------------------------- THE stories in this book is almost same of all the kashmiri women the Author talked with, like the sudden - disappearance of their husband/son, fake encounter's, sexual molestation, and the struggle to survive and their zeal to fight the battle ( legally ) alone against the mighty Indian State/army. --------------------------------------------------- Although the Author herself visited kashmir several times, and talked with the various families who had lost their family members in the conflict between the azadi protesters and the indian army, but i guess her knowledge of geopolitics is very poor, Because Kashmir issue is multidimensional, now it is not an issue between India and pakistan, And now several global terrorist organizations like Al-Qaeda and Daesh ( ISIS ) have their own plan for kashmir. The term like khurasan is one of the examples. And also the rising influence of wahhabism is now penetrated deep into the sufi-mystic culture of kashmir. ------------------------------------------------ At last thanks to the Author for telling these stories which most of the times remain hidden from the Indian public. I will end this with these lines- '' When it comes to kashmir, the conscience of average indian is dead.''

  13. 5 out of 5

    Preethi Kavilikatta

    This is one of the above-average books that I have read so far. I would have rated it a 5, had it not been a tad bit repetitive. But the author/journalist, is true to the demands of her vocation and delves deeper into the subject-matter (which is, an interplay between human rights and feministic perspective on the situation in Kashmir). This book, also wouldn’t qualify to be an eye-opener for someone who is familiar with the gross violations that take place in areas that are subject to military This is one of the above-average books that I have read so far. I would have rated it a 5, had it not been a tad bit repetitive. But the author/journalist, is true to the demands of her vocation and delves deeper into the subject-matter (which is, an interplay between human rights and feministic perspective on the situation in Kashmir). This book, also wouldn’t qualify to be an eye-opener for someone who is familiar with the gross violations that take place in areas that are subject to military dominion. For a law student like me, who goes through scores of such cases, there was nothing revelatory. I would still hand over the credit to the journalist for her efforts, lucidity of her writing and factual correctness. Because, in times as these, when information is plenty but distorted- narratives based on first hand account are of utmost value.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Raksha Bhat

    “I think that maybe if women and children were in charge we would get somewhere”so said James Thurber, he was more than right. Behold I Shine: Narratives of Kashmir's Women and Children by Freny Manecksha gives the reverberating voices of agony and anguish of the Kashmiri women and children a forum in literature, and more importantly it projects their indomitable endurance and fight against all the inhumane atrocities. An online flash sale and the current scenario of Kashmir led me to this book. “I think that maybe if women and children were in charge we would get somewhere”so said James Thurber, he was more than right. Behold I Shine: Narratives of Kashmir's Women and Children by Freny Manecksha gives the reverberating voices of agony and anguish of the Kashmiri women and children a forum in literature, and more importantly it projects their indomitable endurance and fight against all the inhumane atrocities. An online flash sale and the current scenario of Kashmir led me to this book. This turned out to be an eye opener giving me an enlightened perspective to the situation. Well researched and well written with an account of the natives, this made me question my ideas of countries and borders, nationalism and patriotism. Moved, shaken and broken into a million pieces. No living being deserves this.

  15. 5 out of 5

    aman caur

    “Beautiful” and “conflict zone” – are two descriptions that are synonymous with Kashmir. Through Behold I Shine: Narratives of Kashmir’s Women and Children, author Freny Manecksha compels the audience to look beyond the prism of the “beautiful”, while herself holding on to the thread of conflict to bring out the female voices from within Kashmir. The book explores the ways in which conflict has affected Kashmiri women and children. The book also traces stories of children during their formative y “Beautiful” and “conflict zone” – are two descriptions that are synonymous with Kashmir. Through Behold I Shine: Narratives of Kashmir’s Women and Children, author Freny Manecksha compels the audience to look beyond the prism of the “beautiful”, while herself holding on to the thread of conflict to bring out the female voices from within Kashmir. The book explores the ways in which conflict has affected Kashmiri women and children. The book also traces stories of children during their formative years and their brush with conflict. They have memories of burnt homes and crackdowns where the army would ransack their homes and trample their toys.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Neha

    3.5 Good introductory read on Kashmir.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Natasha

    “It is often assumed that the women of Kashmir have not suffered the brunt of direct violence as much as the men there have done. But is that really true? Or is the scale of their suffering underestimated because it is difficult to access women’s stories? Also, what of the indirect violence that has been inflicted on them- shouldn’t that be accounted for?” Freny Manecksha’s “Behold, I Shine” attempts to document the voices and narratives of the women and children of Kashmir. She examines the ongo “It is often assumed that the women of Kashmir have not suffered the brunt of direct violence as much as the men there have done. But is that really true? Or is the scale of their suffering underestimated because it is difficult to access women’s stories? Also, what of the indirect violence that has been inflicted on them- shouldn’t that be accounted for?” Freny Manecksha’s “Behold, I Shine” attempts to document the voices and narratives of the women and children of Kashmir. She examines the ongoing conflict in Kashmir through the gender-sensitive lens, and through stories attempts to answer questions like- has militarization hardened existing patriarchal structures, how do notions of security interact with the patriarchal belief that the rights of a girl child are less than those of the boy, how do young women cope with the overwhelming restrictions in the Valley, how women who are victims of sexual violence also need to deal with the reactions of society, are women in Kashmir supressing their fight for gender rights because of the larger fight for azadi. With sensitivity and grace, Manecksha examines each of these issues, and more. There is an overwhelming number of “half widows” in Kashmir- women who’s husbands have “disappeared”, and they do not know if he is still alive or dead. Not only is the “half widow” left in an emotional limbo of not knowing what happened, she is forced to fend for her family financially. More importantly, she is often required to negotiate the spaces between her natal and marital family, neither of which wants to acknowledge her agency. Her quest for justice can only continue after overcoming all those other factors that seek to derail it, and the quest itself opens her up to further vulnerability. The book examines how a woman’s body is converted into a battlefield. Of how victims of sexual abuse have to deal not only with the violence of the act, but the violence of a society that continues to shame her, the victim. Manecksha talks of how by articulating the question of why a woman who was raped is not accorded the same status as a martyr, people are forcing society to acknowledge that rape is a political weapon, and thereby delinked from shame and loss of honour. The book describes how mothers of sons who have disappeared use their conventional and highly personal identity as a mother to draw attention to the deeply political issue. Manecksha describes how some women have used their personal loss to transform themselves into activists drawing attention to a larger cause. However, it is not only those who have suffered direct losses who are impacted. Manecksha talks of how minimization has reduced access to public spaces. These shared public spaces were spaces where women could meet other women and have everyday conversations. How does losing them impact women? The chapter on how Sufi shrines become a safe place for women has a particularly poignant statement- “Shrines are radical spaces where women can experience spirituality, chat with a friend and even have something to eat afterwards”. These are words that will resonate with many, not just from the Valley. Manecksha discusses how “care”, “control” and “concern” often overlap. Women, particularly, are subject to restrictions, including restrictions on behaviour and clothing. What do women in a conflict zone like Kashmir think about gender rights- does the fight for azadi mean that gender issues should take a backseat? Though the book begins with a brief introduction to the “Kashmir problem”, what it does not do is to go into the details of the struggle or the reasons behind the rise of militancy. Instead, the book focusses on the women who bear the double burdens of patriarchy and being caught in the crossfire of militarization. The book is a must read for anyone who wants to understand the gendered aspects of the conflict in Kashmir. Manecksha has done a brilliant job in weaving together the diverse narratives of women from Kashmir to bring out the picture of the double burden that women carry. ‘Behold, I Shine’ is a tribute to their unwavering spirit, which is summed up in one Facebook post- “Some want to put the hijab on me and save me. Some want to take the hijab off me and save me. Just give me a break, man! I can save myself.”

  18. 5 out of 5

    Chhavi

    BOOK TWs at the end I'm trying to stay away from trite adjectives like "brave", "important", and "difficult" to describe this book. Freny is well-established journalist with and this short book is a deft, moving, telling monument to her tenacity and testimony to her ethic and vocation. It's factual, it's annotated, it's meticulously researched and while there is no way to be objective, her feminism and questioning of the status quo is credible, unapologetic and definitely necessary. The stories a BOOK TWs at the end I'm trying to stay away from trite adjectives like "brave", "important", and "difficult" to describe this book. Freny is well-established journalist with and this short book is a deft, moving, telling monument to her tenacity and testimony to her ethic and vocation. It's factual, it's annotated, it's meticulously researched and while there is no way to be objective, her feminism and questioning of the status quo is credible, unapologetic and definitely necessary. The stories are all heart -- and I can't even begin to salute the spirit of the women who talked to her and shared their stories in whatever way they could. Freny writes: "I started acquiring an understanding of how stories must be heard. A rigid question-and-answer format doesn’t always work. Hesitation, the sounds of silence or gestures can be as truthful and powerful as spoken words. I had to grant these women the freedom to let their stories flow in whatever way or manner they chose. When I gave women the space to speak, I learnt how each narrative could have interwoven skeins of suffering, trauma, healing, resilience, resistance, struggle, humour and, most of all, individuality." And she has succeeded in communicating it to us with honesty. This is so worth a read. Even the prologue that sets up the circumstances of the occupation in as pithy and precise a manner as I have come across is stellar. Each of the women portrayed here, the questions they raise, the voices they sling to ask for dignity, human rights, justice is us. So, yes the book is definitely brave (Freny is stronger than I; I couldn't have conducted these interviews and faced these circumstances), important (getting access to these voices through a reliable narrator is gold) and difficult (I had to put the book down, blow my nose, dry my eyes, take a moment many, many times). It's all of these, but more than that, it's a call to reckoning with ourselves, our complicity and our heads in the sand. A quote from Macbeth that a legal activist uses to refer to the impossibility of justice in Kashmir's "system" -- "What need we fear who knows it, when none can call our power to account?" This book is an attempt to do just that, with and for the women and children of the Kashmiri occupation. *** TRIGGER WARNINGS: Discussions of sexual assault, discussions of suicide ideation, depictions of physical assault, discussions of violence against women as a war crime, human rights violations, PTSD

  19. 5 out of 5

    Veena

    This is my first read from the land known simultaneously as the heaven on earth and the battleground of humanity. This is one of the books that I had intended to read before I visit the place myself. I did get to understand the place but there is nothing in it that I did not know before. Apart from my travel reading aspirations, this book has not fulfilled much. Let me tell you why in this review of the book. Cover page On the cover page is a woman in what looks like an orchard. There are mentions This is my first read from the land known simultaneously as the heaven on earth and the battleground of humanity. This is one of the books that I had intended to read before I visit the place myself. I did get to understand the place but there is nothing in it that I did not know before. Apart from my travel reading aspirations, this book has not fulfilled much. Let me tell you why in this review of the book. Cover page On the cover page is a woman in what looks like an orchard. There are mentions of beautiful gardens and orchard inside but the cover fails to reveal the exact setting of the book. The picture of a woman on the cover page reveals that the book has something to say about feminism. Nothing capturing. The font is dull as well. Highlighting ‘Kashmir’s women’ and ‘children’ seems unnecessary since according to me even ‘narratives’ is important. The book cover failed to capture my complete attention. Characters The heroes of the book are the womenfolk. They are being accounted for and given a voice. The book is their story. There are half widows and rape survivors. There are women raising their voice and those who have lost their voice in a vacuum. The book covers a spectrum of women fighting their own battles their own way. The book is a collection of ‘narratives of women and children of Kashmir’ although I did not see much from a child’s perspective except maybe at a few instances. Content Freny Manecksha has been writing about the ‘Haalat’ of Kashmir. However, this is the first time I am reading a book by her. The book is very similar to the journalistic pieces she has written except here she only talks about the women and sometimes the children of Kashmir. Freny starts by giving a brief history of Kashmir by introducing us to the problems of Kashmir and the fact that it began from not partition but with the treaty of Amritsar in 1846. She then divides the chapters talking about various women and what they have gone through during the years of never-ending struggles. The so-called missing husbands that they howl for and the children who have been hit by the bullets of the soldiers and militants alike. Most of all, Freny describes the state of women in Kashmir. They disregard the feeling of ownership. They do not belong anywhere and nothing belongs to them. The militants are killing their menfolk and others just disappear which in turn means they are never coming back. Women are facing gender-based crimes that largely go unreported and when it is reported, it is not acted upon. The accused are released and even promoted whereas the victims are given hush money. This book covers the cloud of darkness over the state and rains on you like wildfire. It is a collection of powerful narratives but somewhere the content feel data-laden which is the same case as the book Lajja by Taslima Nasreen. This does not mean there is anything wrong with the book. However, I did not learn much from the book that already did not know. If one follows the news or the author online, they are bound to know the content. There references at the end are too many. This is one of the most highlighted books that I have read. I will definitely come back to the book sometimes and read one narrative at a time along with the references. That is the way to read the book. Language The language is very simple nonfiction. There is nothing flowery. The words are hard hitting. The author has not shied away from talking about authorities to whom pointing a finger translates into being an anti-national. That is the favourite two-word-one-word going around these days. Good points The characters are diverse. The content is great in a sad way. The author has done a great job. The language is simple and to the point. Bad points I did not like the cover at all. There is nothing interesting about it. I did not get to learn anything new in the book. Just refreshed what I already knew. It is not bad but this is definitely not what I was expecting. Overall It is a good read, just a little data-heavy. Whom do I recommend this to This is for those who are reading about Kashmir for the first time.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Arushi

    For decades now, Kashmir has remained a major area of conflict. The Kashmir story has been viewed through multiple lenses, however, people often don't look at it from a feminist perspective. I can't imagine how difficult it must be to remain in a constant state of vigilance. To be prepared to face threats of rape, violence, abduction and more, in a very patriarchal society. These women have gone through hardships that I cannot picture, but I can empathise with them. This short, riveting book cont For decades now, Kashmir has remained a major area of conflict. The Kashmir story has been viewed through multiple lenses, however, people often don't look at it from a feminist perspective. I can't imagine how difficult it must be to remain in a constant state of vigilance. To be prepared to face threats of rape, violence, abduction and more, in a very patriarchal society. These women have gone through hardships that I cannot picture, but I can empathise with them. This short, riveting book contains several accounts of women in the valley, who have suffered unimaginable atrocities over the years, and still survive. People often talk about how books like these are biased and present only one side of the picture. It is important to acknowledge that and read other accounts as well, but that doesn't negate what was mentioned here, and the lived experiences of these women. One tragedy cannot justify another. I am glad I read this book, even though I found it difficult at times. I understand the issue in more detail now, and I cannot believe the things people are capable of, some days.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Sandip Roy

    This book narrates a painful journey of women, children and their families in Kashmir in last 3 decades amidst endless physical & mental trauma and injustice, loss of lives and disappearances in the context of a patriarchal society and a violent backdrop of cross border terrorism. The author however has omitted the painful saga of a similar fate of half a million Hindus (Kashmiri Pandits) who fled Kashmir leaving everything behind to save their lives. The author has also left out the deeper psyc This book narrates a painful journey of women, children and their families in Kashmir in last 3 decades amidst endless physical & mental trauma and injustice, loss of lives and disappearances in the context of a patriarchal society and a violent backdrop of cross border terrorism. The author however has omitted the painful saga of a similar fate of half a million Hindus (Kashmiri Pandits) who fled Kashmir leaving everything behind to save their lives. The author has also left out the deeper psychology and impact of home grown terrorism from the 90’s with support from across the border along with local sympathy behind these movements. This book still needs to be read to understand the plight and helplessness of the Kashmiris across generations. With the change in constitutional status of from 2019 their is hope that the situation will improve significantly with greater accountability on all aspects of state governance and overall justice. Would be good if the author revisits Kashmir around 2030 to highlight the extent of changes over time.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Muskaan

    "Memories always surface even from the deepest rubble like the promise of resurrection" ~Gasoline Rainbow, Uzma Falak . Behold, I Shine. An appropriate title for a book like this. It goes beyond the male voices and focuses more on the women of Kashmir. Their struggles , their trauma and their resistance which is at times underestimated. I love that this book focuses on women more because women of Kashmir have suffered a lot aswell if not more than men and anyways it's not a competition. Like Michae "Memories always surface even from the deepest rubble like the promise of resurrection" ~Gasoline Rainbow, Uzma Falak . Behold, I Shine. An appropriate title for a book like this. It goes beyond the male voices and focuses more on the women of Kashmir. Their struggles , their trauma and their resistance which is at times underestimated. I love that this book focuses on women more because women of Kashmir have suffered a lot aswell if not more than men and anyways it's not a competition. Like Michael Foucault has stated "If one controls people's memory, one controls their dynamism. And one also controls their experience, their knowledge of the previous struggles." Thus it's very important to remember Kashmir. For all the pain it has been through matters. Being on the path of truth and standing by it is an end in itself whether one reaches the destination in this dunya or not.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Bookishbong Moumita

    I finished reading this book so fast. I haven't expected so. Look at this cover. Isn't it so pretty ? The book starts with an introduction about the history of Kashmir conflict. After that the author takes us to the Heaven on earth. As I have read "Night of Broken glass" by Feroz I have read about the daily fight of residences there. That was mostly about man. But this book gives me a vivid scenario of the struggle of women go through. The night of broken glass is a fiction. But this book is a non I finished reading this book so fast. I haven't expected so. Look at this cover. Isn't it so pretty ? The book starts with an introduction about the history of Kashmir conflict. After that the author takes us to the Heaven on earth. As I have read "Night of Broken glass" by Feroz I have read about the daily fight of residences there. That was mostly about man. But this book gives me a vivid scenario of the struggle of women go through. The night of broken glass is a fiction. But this book is a nonfiction and here I lost my peace of mind. The suffering of Half-widows make me numb. They live with hope that their beloved will comeback one day. Childhood is also snatched . They are pushed behind. But through all this they shine. The Fight for. "Azadi ". If you want to read about Books on Kashmir. I would suggest you to read it.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Arsh

    Read a non fiction after a long time and The one based on the issue of Kashmir, for the first time. It was exceptional. After a brief explanation of the history of Kashmir, the book keeps bumping in post-90s era. Writing style of the author was great and keeps the reader engaged throughout the book. Though, at times I got confused due to the resemblance in each story. At the end, one feels sad for the situation in which the people (especially women) of Kashmir are but also applauds their resilience. Read a non fiction after a long time and The one based on the issue of Kashmir, for the first time. It was exceptional. After a brief explanation of the history of Kashmir, the book keeps bumping in post-90s era. Writing style of the author was great and keeps the reader engaged throughout the book. Though, at times I got confused due to the resemblance in each story. At the end, one feels sad for the situation in which the people (especially women) of Kashmir are but also applauds their resilience. Highly recommended.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Neha Singh

    This might be a surprise, but it was Chetan Bhagat's "Room No. 105" which made me read books written on J&K. While "Behold.." has a decent collection of stories portraying the hardships of the Kashimiri women, what they lack is a sense of clear understanding. It is very convenient to be biased and portray just one part of the story. And, while I do not deny the hardships of the Kashmiri women ( I seriously thank my stars for not being one of them), what is appaling is the one-sided view this boo This might be a surprise, but it was Chetan Bhagat's "Room No. 105" which made me read books written on J&K. While "Behold.." has a decent collection of stories portraying the hardships of the Kashimiri women, what they lack is a sense of clear understanding. It is very convenient to be biased and portray just one part of the story. And, while I do not deny the hardships of the Kashmiri women ( I seriously thank my stars for not being one of them), what is appaling is the one-sided view this book brings.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Vikram Parmar

    Heart-wrenching tales from the heaven turned to hell by occupation. Freny has done justice to the perspective of women and children. Now I know more about the draconian laws under which Kashmiris live. The blanket the security forces have to get away with monstrous crimes is unbelievable in this era. More people should read this book. I recommend it to everyone who wants to know more about Kashmir issue.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Aditi Chatterjee

    I hope more people may meet this book

  28. 4 out of 5

    Atifa Aimen

    After reading this book, my heart aches for the brave women of Kashmir who have suffered a lot and still had courage to stand up for themselves. I'm really proud of these women. After reading this book, my heart aches for the brave women of Kashmir who have suffered a lot and still had courage to stand up for themselves. I'm really proud of these women.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Saurabh Das

  30. 4 out of 5

    Pritha Chakraborty

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