Ashwani Kumar Chrungoo
Ever since the dawn of history, Kashmir has been the cradle of civilization and culture. It has attracted the attention of many a luminary around the world for its unique standing among the comity of geographies always. Historians, archaeologists, travellers, nature watchers and spiritualists all along have developed their taste to express their experiences about Kashmir. Authors, poets, writers, journalists and columnists were no less behind to pen down their expressions about Kashmir. In the long series of such authors and writers for the last hundreds of years, men of the stature of Hwuin Sang –the famous Chinese Traveller, Graham Stein -the commentator of Kalhana’s Rajtaringini, Swami Vivekananda –the motivational spiritual icon, Rabinder Nath Tagore –the Nobel Laureate and Munshi Prem Chand –the Utimate Novelist of the yesteryears have not only taken keen interest in Kashmir but have documented great pieces of thought and labour that have attained the phenomenal stature among the preserved spoken and written words in the world. In such a celebrated class of authors and writers who have made a difference with their thoughts and pen, the latest to join is Dr. Rajat Mitra –the author of The Infidel Next Door.
This wonderful piece of expression of the accredited psychologist turned writer in the name of The Infidel Next Door is no less than an intervention in the lineage of the ‘beaten track writings’ over the last three decades of literature on Kashmir. It is indeed a different story with a different style and with a different intent too. Writers are no gods but they create gods through their power of pen which people begin worshipping without giving real credit to the creators. Maharishi Valmiki, Ved Vyasa and Tulsidasa are a few in this line of great authors that have made a great difference to the thinking and practice of human crowds all along. The Infidel Next Door has the potential to bring to the fore the hidden facts about Kashmir on a larger canvass of knowledge and information. What has become a part of history in Kashmir needed to have been brought before the current and the next generation in a subtle way. The author has been really kind to do the honours at the risk of making the book as one of the global controversial items on the shelf named “Books on Kashmir”.
Dr. Rajat Mitra’s style of writing the facts of history about Kashmir in a novel-cum-plot manner is his trick to get his readers addicted to his story. The fashion suits the international audience due to the fact that stories sell and sell like anything. And that is what an author, publisher or a reader would like to happen with a book of repute. Controversy is a part of writings on contemporary history, style and fashion notwithstanding. The book review is a compulsion of a reader like me since one cannot escape the impressions that the book casts over him and same is the case with me too. The future readers, I am sure, will recast their impressions in a way far superior to that of mine, as I believe, some facets about the book are yet unexplored.
The second edition of the book by the Utpal Publications does not carry forward the legacy of the publishers of the first edition ie. the reputed Amazon. It defies the regular style of publications and makes one believe that the book is within his or her reach with minimum burden on the pocket. One would, in all cases, love to have it on one’s desk at the first opportunity available.
Ashwani Kumar Chrungoo