BR #25 | Snakes in the Meadows | Ayaz Kohli | Rupa Publications | ★★★★★

Book - Snakes in the Meadows
Author - Ayaz Kohli
Publisher - Rupa Publications
Rating - ★★★★

Author Bio: (from book) Born on 5 January 1977, Ayaz Kohli is a 2007 batch IRS officer, presently serving as Joint Commissioner-GST, Mumbai.

He was born and brought up in Poonch district of Jammu and Kashmir. In 2007, he became the first person from his community and region to qualify the Civil Services.

Having seen the rise and repercussions of militancy from very close quarters, and moved by the plight of people of the border districts of Jammu and Kashmir, he decided to pen down his first novel, Snakes in the Meadows. His poem titled, 'Salvage Thy Pride', has been a part of Exodus magazine released in the UK.

Book Review: "Snakes in the Meadows" by Ayaz Kohli is a classic fiction narrating tales from the Pir Panjal region of Jammu and Kashmir, India. Tales of the old where the culture and tradition of the region have been well depicted through bullfights, shrines, prayers, and beliefs of the people. All good until the place inevitably fell in the hands of militant insurgencies who made life miserable for the inhabitants committing atrocities more heinous than ever. This is a story of suffering and resilience of the people. How they managed to withstand evil and how they ultimately succeeded in driving them out.

Aslam can well be called the protagonist of the story along with Ashwar. While these two people share an unusual story among themselves, probably not the happiest but definitely one of the most inspiring, we find many faces of human revelation cropping up throughout the story. Inspired by true events, we read just an iota of how events surrounding Kashmir take place. This story has some big-time real-life drama, where we find sub-plots of love, sacrifice, bravery, and revenge - all intertwined in tales of survival. We see how families get broken, yet the lost son returns for his community; how corrupt officers in the army torment the innocent, yet there are many soldiers who stand beside citizens; how blind faith in extracting revenge from a meaningless goal turns a group of jobless people into terrorists, yet there are those who stand ground refusing to bend the knee on false misinterpretations against the Divine.

This book is an eye opener to many as it narrates a wonderful story of how good ultimately triumphs over evil. The existence of many supporting characters, each of who has an important role to play no matter how big or small, teaches us that light can be found even in the darkest of caves from where you can come out. This is a story where sons, daughters, wives, husbands, lovers, teachers, young, old, soldiers, doctors, politicians, and journalists unite for a common cause, although without letting go of their personal interest which makes things more believable and real.

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