Half-Widow A Review
By Irfan Tramboo
Shafi Ahmad's The Half Widow is an important addition to the handful of historical fiction novels that have portrayed the troublesome lives, in recent times, of the residents in the picturesque state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). Ever since Kipling's notable novels, "Kim" and "The Man Who Would be King," readers have been fascinated with this region located high up in the Himalayan mountain range. Most would be looking forward to more novels set in that romantic vale. However, the romanticism soon ends when one reads about, and watches on TV, the heart wrenching problems faced by the people of J&K state.
This novel begins, much like in the opening scene of a movie, showing a woman scrubbing pots and pans in a kitchen late at night. Her son questions the reason for their move from the village to the city, where the life is so different and the family she works for takes their dinner so late. The novel proceeds to depict the plight of the half-widows [women whose husband have disappeared and cannot be traced. [Recently, the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) reported that there are between 2,000 - 2,500 half-widows in the Kashmir valley].
Half-Widow is highly recommended..