“A Kiss in Kashmir” by Monica Saigal 

Title: “A Kiss in Kashmir”
Author: Monica Saigal 
Pages: 238
Publisher: Bodes Well Publishing
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Life is considered to be beautiful for its unpredictability and the chances it gives people to alter their destinies by their choices. In “A Kiss in Kashmir,” the author Monica Saigal captures the essence of this idea and weaves a universe that spans around generations of people while discussing critical issues that pertain to human existence. By keeping the characters as well as events limited, the author dives deeper into their personalities and gives readers the space to unravel issues that are universal and have resonating effects in people’s lives across generations. The different characters impersonate characteristics matching their age groups and simultaneously give readers an idea of an alternate universe. At the same time, it is the power of hope and desire to continue to live that drives the narrative and intertwines the destinies of the people that appear on the canvas of the text.

 “A Kiss in Kashmir” carries the powerful vibe of the valley of Kashmir, the warmth comprising the routine of its residents and gives the readers a view beyond the tourist outlook. As a tale that has one of the themes of connecting with roots, it also houses the connections built through the interactions among people. Vikram, in true essence, is the artistic personality that sees the good in everything and beyond the usual human concerns. His pictorial artistic sense blossoms through Sharmila’s paintbrush and this is where the potency of human connections and artistry is highlighted. Viewing this in the societal framework, the trouble in paradise may have been least anticipated event but it is agreed upon by the readers due to the truthfulness of the regular occurence of such events.

Vikram’s plight also highlights the conditions of many youth who may have gone through a similar experience, which collectively impacts the people around them, resonating with the next generations subsequently. The author deals with this delicate subject with patience and develops the story around this idea. The other ideas that find an indirect mention are the impacts of life-changing events on the ones who are left behind, the economy and its importance in the social setup, bonds between humans, moving on in the face of adversity, but most importantly, the events of various political movements and events on the common citizen.

Sharmila and George’s story is strikingly different, but they are connected by one common thread. In light of this, their view of life is distinct and worlds apart. While Sharmila goes on her “stress planet,” George takes life head-on, embracing it with everything it brings, even though he has his moments of emotional tolls. Alina, on the other hand, as a member of the next generation, comes across as having a unique perspective on life, which significantly differs from the earlier generation. In that sense, the characters represent different aspects of time as well as invoke emotions of nostalgia and silent smiles as the readers reminisce about the times gone. Yet, they look at the future with hope and faith in better times to follow.

The other interesting theme explored in  “A Kiss in Kashmir” is how life can present a random opportunity out of nowhere for a person to turn things around for themselves and experience happiness. This holds true in the lives of Sharmila and George, who are far beyond their youth. In an age when they have wisdom and a thorough understanding of life, their experiencing the joys of youth underlines the beauty of life for every age group.

“A Kiss in Kashmir” is a remarkable work in the essence of the ideas it conveys with precision and its focus being on discussing larger than life issues that have always existed among us but not found an accurate reflection. Recommending this book to all readers would only imply giving them an experience of a journey that is about connection with the roots, the power of connections and the political implications of the actions taken by human beings generations ago. The issue of Kashmiri pandits finds accurate representation, and the author makes sure to leave it up to the readers’ discretion to decide and understand the conditions of people in this context. They will also find light moments amidst the seriousness of the narrative.

As a title,  “A Kiss in Kashmir” is quite interesting, and even though it may create the perception of the book being circled around the romantic aspect that resonates in the land of Kashmir, the underlying meanings that it carries give the work a significant depth of thought and gives the readers a lot more than a simple story to read. All readers who are interested in reading a refreshing work that not only sends them into a pictorial world of the valley of Kashmir and people discovering themselves, as well as their roots, are recommended  “A Kiss in Kashmir” by Monica Saigal.

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