This fiction from Kashmir highlights a theme other than resistance

SRINAGAR:  Shikaras were gliding over the blue waters of Dal Lake and the scintillating heart shaped oars kept plashing the water, apparently wishing the onlooker to “row love” as the author beautifully narrates in his book, “The Signs.”

The book was released at an impressive function at Gulshan Books, Nehru Park, an appropriate ambience for the occasion.

Those present included Dr. Maroof Shah, Maajid Aslam Wafai, Executive Member KCCI, Tariq Bhat, Chairman IIS School and Feisal Wani, freelance writer. 

The novel is first of its kind that steers clear of resistance theme.


It may seem quite unlikely when the whole era of writers from Kashmir have underscored the agonies and sufferings, Fazl Illahi chooses a wholly different course highlighting the angst and pain of “Saleem”—the protagonist—grappling with ethical and teleological questions of life.

Saleem keeps wading on the tracks of good and evil, vacillating until he stumbles on a mystic, who, during more than couple of meetings, transforms him, and makes him worthy to tap on the ‘signs’ in the universe. There are patches and traces of romance too in the plot where Saleem happens to meet Shahana, and their relationship is shown to deepen as the story advances.

“The novel highlights the bitter irony where it is mostly seen that honest people suffer and evil have their day,” said Illahi.

“But truth must triumph in the end if we want to make some teleological sense in this world. And most importantly this novel gives the message of love to me, to you, and to the east and the west.

‘Row love’ is the mystic’s message,” he adds with a smile. “My book weaves the identity and the signs of Kashmir–the Shikara, the heart shaped oar that our shikara wallas row with, the Wular–with the universal spiritual signs,” he concludes.  

The author hails from Srinagar and teaches at Institute of Advanced Studies in Education, at Govt College M.A. Road, Srinagar. He is presently working on a small book based on his collection of thoughts that lie scattered on Facebook under #fazlillahithoughts. His book ‘The Signs’ is now available on Amazon, Kindle, Flipkart and bookstores in Srinagar.

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