The Half Mother


In ‘The Half Mother’, the debut novel of Shahnaz Bashir, the author incomparably attempts to address the pain, agony and violence Kashmiris are suffering since late 1990’s. He beautifully narrates the tale of pain of Haleema, a resident of Natipora Srinagar, after her only son disappears.

The ‘Half Mother’, Haleema, abandoned by her husband after only a few months of her marriage, lives in a small family which includes her son Imran and her father named Ghulam Rasool Joo, whom Haleema calls as ‘Ab Jaan’. The story revolves around Imran, the only son of Haleema, who is picked by men in uniform and never comes back. His disappearance brings gloom and misery to Haleema and her father, Ghulam Rasool Joo. 

The author of the book describes in detail the pain as well as tears that the poor mother sheds while waiting for her son’s return. Haleema, not knowing the whereabouts of her son, dies a new death every day. The author of the book chillingly conveys how men in uniform have directly or indirectly maligned and befouled every Kashmiri and left their families crippled.

Haleema’s futile search for her son makes the reader’s heart sink. At every page, the reader hopes that a letter or a mere word of her son’s well-being might bring relief to her aching heart. The poor mother waits longingly everyday but her son never returns.

The author has successfully shed light on the state of threat, fear and desperation that the people of Kashmir face. Our valley is full of Haleemas who await their sons every day. The author describes the pain and nightmares of Haleema in a simple yet powerful narration.  The reader gets so engaged in the story that he or she can feel the pain and desperation of the poor mother. You cry with her and wait with her. You long with her for her son’s return.

The author narrates how the mother visits every Indian jail to locate her son and how at every step she is met with despair and failure until one day, while looking into a mirror, she realises how old she has become. Every page of the book narrates a harsh and emotional reality of Kashmir and its women who have lost their men to the brutality and barbarity of men in uniform. 

The title ‘The Half Mother’ is apt as the book conveys the pain and grief of a mother who is snatched of her child. It portrays how her elegancy changes into lifelong sorrow and grief.





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