There was Ravinder Kaul, who choked several times while during the reading of poignant passages in the book. Prof. Rita Jitendra, a former Secretary of J&K Academy of Art, Culture and Languages, wouldn’t stop weeping.
Actor Sanjay Suri, who unveiled the book, recalled how he lost his father to terrorists’ bullets.
A man among the audience questioned former Deputy Commissioner of Jammu and eminent Punjabi writer Khalid Hussain's tale of Kartar Singh who killed his own son to protect the honor of a Muslim girl sheltered in his house. “There were no Kartar Singhs to help us,” he said.
The largely Kashmiri Pandit audience sat besides some Kashmiri Muslims who braved the accusations of betrayal that lead to the ouster of Kashmiri Pandits from their hearths and homes.
Khalid, the writer, went on to say,“Haan! mein Gunehgar hoon!”. (Yes! I am guilty!) on behalf of his community. The book’s unveiling, organized by publishers Random House, most ironically took place in one of the most unlikely of places -the Urdu Department's seminar hall, of Jammu University.
Author Rahul Pandita later spoke to Rashmi Talwar on Kashmir and his journey of exile and pain.
Excerpts from the interview:
Why did you write Our Moon has Blood Clots? Did you hope that chronicling the account of the Pandit exodus would help get the trauma off your chest? Do you hope the book will force people to do something to lessen the sufferings of the community?
The main aim for writing this book is to set the record straight on the events of 1990; the book is aimed at arriving at a true picture of the conflict of Kashmir. The story of the Kashmiri Pandits and the kind of brutalization they faced in the Valley has hardly been mentioned as a part of the ‘Kashmir discourse’. So my book is an act of defiance, like one of the reviews of my book stated.
My book is for anyone who is on the side of truth. It is also a tribute to the grit of my community that has suffered religious persecution for centuries and has survived the onslaught bravely.
Picture courtesy: Rahul Pandita