In these exquisitely wrought ‘poems and tales,’ Rafiq Kathwari, his mother’s scribe, pays homage to his mother/land, Kashmir. The poems punctuate with paradoxical lyricism, the 71 years of Kashmir’s military occupation by India, and its continuing status as a bone of contention between India and Pakistan, from the moment of its aborted plebiscite in 1949 till present times. The poems written in the mother’s voice in the form of letters to different heads of state as pleas for freedom, are among the most haunting in the collection, wherein the personal and the political intertwine through tales of the Kathwari family of Kashmir, to reveal the rot at the heart of our patriarchal, uncaring world. The memory of a mother’s love is the balm these poems offer to the wounds of history.
– Fawzia Afzal-Khan
Fawzia Afzal-Khan is the author of Siren Song:Understanding Pakistan through its Women Singers (2020). She is also a Professor of English, University Distinguished Scholar, and former Director of Women and Gender Studies (now called Gender,Sexuality, and Women’s Studies) at Montclair State University.