Author: Roxy Arora
Publisher: Prabhat Publishers
Cover : 3/5
Title : 4.5/5
Blurb : 3/5
Theme : 4.5/5
Story : 4.5/5
Characters : 5/5
Value for money: 5/5
Overall : 4.5/5
- Roshina- The protagonist
- Aafaq- Roshina’s love interest
- Heena- Aafaq’s sister and Roshina’s best friend
- Ruhail- Heena’s love interest
- Rudra- Roshina’s uncle and an Army officer
- Rohan- Roshina’s brother
- Zohaib- Roshina’s son
‘Undoubtedly, My Saffron Garden was a playground for Farishtey and Djinns. The tiny flora in the lush meadow tiptoed upwards as lithe as ballet dancers while they hobnobbed with the tinted winged butterflies’
Year 1988, the two Superpowers of the world, U.S.A. and U.S.S.R., embroiled in their cold war. Each vying to outdo the other in its quest for terrain, a terrain saturated with oil.
As the Soviet troops leave Afghanistan. Our Indian borders bleed at their most breathtaking yet strategic point – Kashmir. Jihad unleashes its angst. Roshina Kapoor, headstrong and feisty, born and bred in Kashmir. Aafaq Qazmi, principled Muslim elitist, reciprocates Roshina’s love for him with unbridled ardour. Heena Qazmi, Aafaq’s sister and Roshina’s best friend. All three young adults fiercely possessive of each other as well as their beautiful state and the Kashmiriyat they symbolise. The ‘Saffron Garden’ was theirs. Why in 2015 does Roshina return to Sopore without her lover and best friend? Why does the Saffron Garden scare her? Is it because she is a Kafir? Will Roshina ever find closure and love or will her past catch up with her and wreak havoc in her life yet again?
Jihad In My Saffron Garden by Roxy Arora is a heart-wrenching tale of heaven on earth: Kashmir, and about three of its most prominent lovers: Roshina, Heena and Aafaq. Roshina Kapoor is a Hindu girl who stays with her family on rent on the first floor of Aafaq and Heena Qazmi’s parents’ house in Srinagar, Kashmir. Both the families are not tenant-owner for each other, but more than families. They celebrate both Eid and Diwali with the same fervor and enthusiasm. Roshina and Heena are soul-sisters and their respective brothers Rohan and Aafaq get along very well with respect to computers. Roshina is the proud owner of a saffron garden in Sopore which has been gifted to her by Heena.
Roshina has a crush on Aafaq and before she realizes it turns to love. Heena is more than happy, when she learns this fact, to have Roshina as her Bhabhi-jaan (beloved sister-in-law) and helps her with her plans to woo Aafaq. Even after a lot efforts, Aafaq doesn’t seem to budge, although he does end up confessing his love for Roshina. They enjoy some beautiful days together along with Heena and Ruhail, before turmoil unfolds in their beloved Kashmir. Militants and Jihadists invade the valley making Hindu residents either move out of Kashmir or convert to Islam. As a result, the Kapoor family leaves for Jammu and later for Delhi where they settle for a better and safe future. They do stay in touch with the Qazmi’s throughout; the most difficult transition being for Roshina as she has to stay away from both her soul-sister and her soul-mate.
Roshina manages to move on with life, makes new friends, and gets a job for herself. She misses her home she had back in Srinagar and the people who matter to her so much. However, she stays happy, until one day when the news of something untoward happening to Heena reaches her; she loses her soul-sister for ever. Learning that it was the Army men who were responsible for Heena’s ordeal, she despises even her uncle whom she loves so dearly. Aafaq too seeks vengeance and sets on the incorrect path. This opens a Pandora’s box which turns everyone’s lives upside down. Years later, Roshina’s son Zohaib takes her back to Sopore while she wonders all the while why her son took that step. The book will leave you asking for more.
It is utterly disturbing for me to even think of what the situation in Kashmir is, but there are people living and thriving every day for their better future. Jihad In My saffron Garden brought in me emotions that I didn’t know exist in the deepest crests of my heart. This book truly deserves to be read by each and every individual as it carries the message of world peace.
In the initial few pages, I was confused and wondered what exactly Roxy was trying to convey. The narration there was a bit haywire, but I guess that was the intent of Roxy to bring across the book in a unique way. Another issue I faced was with understanding a few conversations in the book; it was difficult to make out which character was saying which dialogue because there is no proper marking between dialogues of different characters, such as a new line, except for open and closed inverted commas right next to each other without as much as a space. This should have been taken care of by the typesetter of the book.
Kashmir on the whole is a very sensitive issue and talking about it one needs to ensure that there are no controversial things said; Roxy has done that job perfectly. She has managed to sensitively convey the true picture of the beautiful place Kashmir, how it is being ruined because of a few radicals, and the role of the Indian Army in securing our heaven. Although the first few pages baffled me and made wonder what exactly was Roxy trying to convey, the moment I reached the overture in the next few pages I was intrigued and was more than glad when I read the climax that Roxy didn’t let her reader down! The book is an absolutely fine piece of work embellished with beautiful characters. The carefully crafted words transported me to some other world. The narrations have been made in a way that I was able to comprehend the feelings of the characters. Vivid vocabulary, innocent emotions and a scintillating story are the highlights of this book.
A heart-rendering story born from first-hand experience. Strongly recommended! (4.5/5)
Click here to read Roxy’s interview by me.
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