Book Review : The Collaborator by Mirza Waheed

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By Naveed Qazi | Editor, Globe Up Front

When Mirza Waheed did book reading sessions in Srinagar and New Delhi, people were astounded by the lingual beauty of his prose, some were even moved to such an affliction that they requested him to stop reading. It is the memory of anguish which allowed them to do so. 

Kashmir has been a subject of savagery, a prisoner of fallacious hegemony and social chaos. The politics of Kashmir reflects a continuous decay and writings on the conflict in mainstream literature can help in gleaming out all those uncomfortable truths, to the world which hasn't been admonishing to our wretched conflict

The story of sad lives neighbouring delightful wilderness, the savage rituals of death, the Jehadi militia hostility, the ruthlessness of Indian Army and painful longings of childhood friends, is what The Collaborator tries to render on paper, and it does it with extraordinary skill.

The Collaborator by Mirza Waheed, excels as an enchanting prose and is deeply disturbing. He uses a vocabulary of calibre, a comprehension so gripping that it challenges all those radical notions of bias amassed on Kashmir conflict.

The principal character is a Collaborator in his late teens, who is a son of a village chieftain. He is a victim of calamities who buries decaying human remains, collects their used weaponry and ammunition in beautiful meadows, abutting springs and mountains. He steals their identities on the orders of his impelling boss - a merciless alcohol-loving and swearing army man in a local Army cantonment - Captain Kadian.

The Collaborator has sensed wild dogs growing fat on human flesh, he has seen headless bodies floating in streams, communities getting aroused towards fanaticism, and is longing for his childhood friends, who have embraced violence and crossed into training camps of Pakistan through secretive mountainous tracks, which are being discovered every now and then, by the Indian ground forces, and are endlessly shelled and bullet fired upon. There are even tales of betrayals and hatred aptly narrated. The book depicts adventures of this Collaborator in the quest for truth, lost love, amidst unceasing warfare, in an attempt to heal his consciousness, which is haunted by despair. The memories of his unforgettable childhood provide a catalyst to his motives. It is a story of Kashmir, seldom told before.

The Collaborator is a bloke who has seen modest communities getting brutalized, and cruel politics looming and choking Kashmiri lives. He has seen Kashmir submerging into a devastating conflict, bleeding in abundance. The book is set in an isolated mountain village of Nowgam in the 1990's, where reportage is barely possible, where war is ever active, where truth is most feared, and where the fright of death breathes with human lives. While reading through the narration, the book will answer all those unasked and haunting questions, which hold true for most Kashmiris. It is a fiction which excels as a deeply perceptive reportage of war and barbarity.

The Collaborator succeeds. The novel entraps due to its engrossing storyline. The last page of the novel guarantees tears. Waheed fictionalises real events of the conflict in a cordial manner. His diligence in narrating his characters depicts sincerity and deserves applause. An elegance of ingenious imagination blending factual realities is the conclusion which can be drawn, after finishing the pages of this novel.

Novels of this genre can significantly contribute towards a discourse on conflict resolutions. 

The narration is sometimes compassionate, sometimes a painful elegy, depicting wraths of barbarism, of frustrations, and sometimes showing inherent sensitivities of human nature.


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