Curfewed Night by Basharat Peer

tumblr_n6hno2qIxr1sfxmouo1_500Curfewed Night

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 256 pages, Published January 1st 2009 by Random House

My Ratings: 4 out of 5 stars
Genre: Non-fiction, Memoir

My Review:
This book was a poignant peek into the past of Kashmir, with conflict and pain that we can’t even begin to fathom. As the memoir begins from the author’s childhood days, we see Kashmir as described by a child. It was a typical Muslim home with the author’s Grandfather as the head of the family. Apart from the state of Kashmir, we also get insight about the religion and superstitions they believed in. What really caught my attention and made me feel like this would be a powerful book was this quote:

And if around sunset they saw streaks of scarlet in the sky, they said “There has been a murder somewhere. When a man is killed, the sky turns red.”

This impacted me in such a way. An old man and a kid, talking about sunset, why does it have to be so violent? Well, it got me thinking and when I came across the same quote much further in the book, after the author had explained all the atrocities the people there suffered. The pain, the torture, the constant paranoia, losing faith, losing homes, it was overwhelming, it was painful to read. And not just because they were talking against the country I live in, and the Army we glorify, it was because it’s a memoir. And while I did doubt that the author might be full of hatred or was biased, while reading it, I did believe it to be the truth.

“What about the book?”
Father had built his library over years, each book had his name and a book number on the first page in either his scrawly handwriting or mother’s much neater letters.
His books were the books of a self-taught man, the books that had shaped him, helped him build his life, that made him stand out when he talked about worlds and ideas that only few men in our world could talk about.

They leave the books behind. Some of you might not get it what’s it like to leave your home behind, not knowing when you’ll get to see it again, if it will ever be the same. At that time, when you’re packing all the essentials, some things are left behind. It’s like seeing my guitar back in my bedroom and having to leave it behind. It hurts, but you know you have no choice. When the author explains what the books meant to his father, and yet they had to leave it behind, it shows that helplessness, and hard choices one has to make in times of war.
The writer moved to Delhi, to study, get a job, and be where it is safer but was it? His first day there and he saw Muslims being killed. He comes back to his hometown and goes and meets people who have lost everything or atleast someone. If those passages and memories don’t move your soul, then you are heartless. They describe in detail the torture, the killings, those might be just names and words on paper to you but that was their life.
While in the start of the book, author explains how full of hatred he was about India. Cheering for Pakistan in cricket matches, basically against India, no matter who they were playing with, the book does end on a happy note. Curfewed night gave me the details on history of Kashmir that I never knew before. It taught me not to take the peace for granted. And for that I am thankful.


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