On March 4, when journalist-turned-politician Nayeema Ahmad Mahjoor hosted a reading session of her debut book Lost in Terror at a bookstore- cum- café inside the famed Dal lake, the event was reminiscent of life in Kashmir in 1990s through the eyes of a woman.
Released in November 2016, the book continues to be in discussion, and shares a woman’s perspective and story of their sufferings in the Kashmir conflict. While Nayeema, who previously worked with BBC and Radio Kashmir, consolidated numerous stories of women’s struggle in the book, she candidly started with her personal life; the story of a young, educated, career-oriented woman braving the turmoil to realize her dreams.
Nayeema vividly narrates the episode, how once during 90s her father returned home after three days of crackdown and couldn’t face the female members for having being unable to be with them during siege by armed forces. “Though he had not done anything wrong, he couldn’t face us for having left us alone. How can one forget that expression of helplessness on his face?”
And the 56-year-old author boldly discusses the hiccups in her marital life. Nayeema says there were occasions when she had to delicately manage the balance between her father and her husband as the two differed on most political opinions. “Women had been going through the hell of sufferings. While everyone would discuss uniformed gunmen or invisible gunmen, no one had guts to say that women are suffering not only outside but even inside their homes, so I thought why not to weave all this based on real stories,” Nayeema told InUth in an exclusive chat.
The author who presently heads the J&K State Women’s Right Commission said she remembers every bit of her work on the book. “A son goes missing and his helpless mother in the absence of any assistance from others struggles alone, running from pillar to post, till she finally turns insane,” she expressed.
Buoyed at the success of her book published by Penguin Random House India, Nayeema says, “I wanted people, particularly the people of India to know how women of Kashmir have suffered.” A senior Peoples Democratic Party leader, Nayeema is seen as a guiding force in the party. But then isn’t it true that Kashmir witnessed “worst-ever” humanitarian crises during the Mehbooba Mufti-led regime in the 2016 unrest? What about that?
“I acknowledge that it was worst human rights violations especially due to rampant use of pellet guns and this should not have happened. But I have been asking the government as to why it happened? After all, it was not done by the militants but the government itself,” Nayeema replied.
The author reprised that through her book she aspires to narrate the untold pain of Kashmiri women. “Now it’s for the people how they will give comfort to the women of Kashmir.