There was a time during my professional life when I travelled extensively to Kashmir. The Hindi diction of the local people is a little different – it is almost sing-song. As I picked up the book by Prashant, I wondered why it was titled ‘Jehlum’ when we know the river as ‘Jhelum’. The author clarifies this right at the beginning – this is how Kashmiris pronounce the name.
Nishant and Mudassir are two childhood friends born and brought up in Kashmir. Fateful events of January 1990 force Nishant and his family to migrate to a refugee camp in Jammu. He does not give up on hope. He realises that the only way out for him to move out of this squalor is to study and work hard. He succeeds in moving to America.
Mudassir on the other hand is manipulated and ends up in a training camp in Pakistan, and then as a labourer in Karachi.
The plot till almost 80% of the story is relatable and storytelling is compelling. It narrates the events leading up to the exodus, life in the camps, Nishant’s hard work, and then his moving to USA. The unfortunate circumstances are not heavy with sentimentality, but are backdrops for the principled and ethical man that Nishant turns into.
It is in the last part of the book when Nishant practically becomes a single man army or more appropriately a superhero that the story felt as if I was watching a Bollywood movie. But I am not complaining. Having brought up on the Amitabh Bachchan movies of the 1970s and 1980s, it was enjoyable.
An enjoyable fast paced read if you have also loved the Bollywood movies of yesteryears.