Exchanging Letters To Portray Life In Kashmir

New Delhi: Communication between two girls through exchange of letters form the subject of a new book which attempts to portray life in Kashmir from the perspective of its young minds and provides a context of understanding for the new generation in other parts of the country.

"Post Box Kashmir: Two Lives in Letters" provides an insight into the minds and hearts of teenage girls, one in Delhi and the other in Kashmir, undergoing momentous points in history.

Do only Muslims live in Kashmir? Why do girls in Kashmir do stone pelting? Can you imagine being confined to the four walls of your home with no internet, no social media? Are Kashmiris really invisible to the rest of the country?

These are some of the questions two teenagers - Saumya Sagrika in Delhi and Duaa Tul Barzam in Kashmir - asked through letters they exchanged over almost three years.

The answers they seek are likely to be the answers that all teenagers growing up in India would ask.

Framing these letters is the detailed history and commentary provided by journalist Divya Arya, who asked them to be pen pals, which places their conversations against the backdrop of the political history and happenings in Kashmir.

"Post Box Kashmir" is the result of these conversations. Published by Penguin Random House imprint Duckbill, it is a non-fiction for teens on the history and present of Kashmir, as seen through the letters of Duaa and Saumya.

The book hit stores on August 5, the second anniversary of the revocation of Jammu and Kashmir's special status.

"They had to be girls. Equally impacted but less expected to be the tellers, characters or readers of writings about conflict," Arya says about her characters.

"Women's experiences are documented less, especially in the context of issues that are not specifically about them," she adds.

Arya says to capture the impact of geopolitics, there was a need to step away from it.

"From the action on the streets back into the quiet of homes. We wanted to understand Kashmir from the perspective of the young minds growing inside it, and to explain it to the young generation watching it from the outside," she writes.

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