ABOUT THE STORY Words carved on gravestones, like those of the most ambitious literature, are written in the hope that they will endure for centuries. In Shahnaz Bashir’s story, we encounter Muhammad Sultan, a Kashmiri carpenter both humble and proud, who thinks of himself as an artist and lives in a mercurial way. Gradually, the debilitations of life, fate and the insurgency in his homeland take their toll on his pomp. The only way out for him would involve an act of terrible desecration. As Bashir’s story tracks Muhammad Sultan’s walk to the graveyard, it hums with the tension between the past and the present, the sacred and the profane, the soul and the stomach, and, at its inexorable conclusion, between life and death.
Shahnaz Bashir’s first novel, The Half Mother, was published last month by Hachette India.