Despite Stolen Dreams

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Author: Anita Krishan
Publisher: FINGERPRINT! (An imprint of Prakash Books India),
(Pp 303; Price: Rs 295)

Anita Krishan, whose second book Fluffy & Me made me feel two years ago, comes out with her third book Despite Stolen Dreams with full of feelings. What I feel right from the Prologue of the book is the struggles simple common people face at the turns their lives take. And what it makes me feel the story my kind is the way Anita constructs it with a strong theme and characters breaking the walls that divide the society into pieces along the lines of caste and creed.

The story of Despite Stolen Dreams unfolds in a corner of Kashmir Valley at a madrasa, owned by a philanthropist, a home to a host of homeless boys who become terrorists and convert the institute their training ground. It is the region’s separatist sentiment that provokes the boys to become terrorists, who eventually house arrest Wali Khan and his family. One of them, Shakeel, even plans to marry Wali’s daughter Meher, forcibly.

Wali, with the help of his clever servant Abdul, escapes from the clutch of terrorists to live with his son in Delhi. Anita’s ideal is her real deal in the narratives. Wali finds a friendly sardar neighbour Kashmira Singh, who has also experienced victimisation of terrorism in his past and who helps him fight against all odds in his new life in Delhi and struggling to keep nostalgia away.

Anita clusters the plots throughout the story in a page-turning way, carrying the theme forward directionally. She adds value of love and humanity so pertinently while telling the story. A pinch of romance between Meher, who is a practicing pediatrician at AIIMS, and her senior Dr Raghav provides a mid-way breathing space in the story whirling around the struggle and agony amid terrorism. Inner life of a terrorist is what nobody cares about, because he kills innocent people; but Anita does care and explores the humane side of Shakeel.

– Jyaneswar Laishram

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