An excerpt from Piece of War: Narratives of Resilience and Hope by Meha Dixit, published by SAGE Publications India. (2020, 292 pages, Paperback: Rs. 450 (ISBN: 978-93-5388-506-9), SAGE Select.)
Chapter 7: Resilience, Coping and Hope
Lebanon-Syria Border: 2019
It was a freezing day in the border town of Lebanon in the Bekka Valley, which was located just a few kilometers from the Syrian border. Imran, the taxi driver stopped the car near a settlement of Syrian refugees. Few men were standing in the dusty field outside the shelters covered with tarpaulin. Little children, mostly girls, possibly in the age group of 5 to 13 years, who were ambling across the ochre field speckled with stones, came running towards the vehicle. While some raised their hands to wave at me, radiating exuberant smiles, others chuckled playfully covering their faces with their palms. Some children began to speak in Arabic and chuckled again. “This is Anjar settlement of the Syrian refugees,” Imran pointed out. While I attempted to interact with the children in broken Arabic, Imran spoke to the men outside the shelters, who then asked me to come in.
‘Who can free a captive bird mourning in his cage?
You must bring your own Freedom, O, Gardner.’ Ghulam Ahmad Mehjoor
“I’ll be back early tomorrow, you don’t need to worry about me,” Syeda tried to sound reassuring. “He will protect us”, she said to Tariq, as she packed the oily turmeric rice in a large steel lunch carrier. She placed the container in an empty plastic cement bag, hoisted it on her head and took Mishaal’s hand in hers. The faithful were reciting their durood in the mosque after Fajr prayers. The golden thread of dawn had just emerged in the skies, and she embarked on this perilous journey to Srinagar.
By Mudabbir Ahmad
A good part of his day would be spent waiting, which of course was not very likeable — not because he had nothing else to do, but because Time liked him very much, or so it would seem to him. That thought was disgusting; the notion that it was in fact a fact was dreadful. Time liked him so much that she stayed with him, refusing to pass and even if she did, she would stretch herself all over him, like a monstrous dragon spreading its wings, eclipsing the sun and spitting a shadow all over the ground. I am using an example from my fantasy, may be because it is easier for the human mind to conjure fantastical elements, to explain Time. But in all honesty, and this has taken serious courage to write, Time was not a dragon to him, she was something much more terrible, much more torturous and horrible to even contemplate- she was eternal.
Time was in love with Argos. It was a bestial kind of love-savage, pure and perhaps too much to be contained in meek words that I put here. She fed off Argos, and Time was one hungry beast, gluttonous and without the slightest mercy. Read more
By Aminah Sheikh
Let’s get down to brass tacks. Why do you write?
My basic instinct is to write. Of course, a cause, money, adulation and fame are what writers write for but they can’t happen without the instinct. The vent that I need to articulate the deepest levels of my consciousness drives me to write. When not writing, I sing; I sing well.
Tell us about your most recent book or writing project. What were you trying to say or achieve with it?
My most recent book is Scattered Souls. It is a collection of 13 interlinked stories which makes it a novel as well. The connections between the stories have been determined by the interdependent diversity in suffering that run through disparate, scattered individuals as a thread, enabling each character a full role in relation to the other. But that is not how it was planned. It emerged while writing them.
The conflict situation in Kashmir is extraordinary. The stories try to evince what ordinary means to a people living (read suffering) in an extraordinary situation.
Describe your writing aesthetic.
Primarily, I’m fond of experimenting with diverse formats. I also like to punctuate the narration with real elements like a letter, an ad, a song, a poem, a list, a symbol and so on. I don’t like tight climax-plots but loose-ended plots to my stories with a multi-plot embedded throughout. I like a matter-of-fact, poetic, stream-of-consciousness, compact narration generally and above all. My stories would stand alone as well as converge, with certain elements, into each other. I am fond of nouns and verbs mostly, in verbing of nouns and adjectives as tiny metaphors. I don’t approve of fiction which is written only to explore the possibilities of language not ideas. I don’t like too much of aesthetic that fails to torture the language and holds it back from telling the latent truth.