Half Widow is a novel by Punit Sharma, written in Hindi. This novel, howsoever alluring the title might be, is not a romance or a love saga! Half Widow is a novel which tries to open up on the issue of Kashmir. The problem of terrorism; the problem of proxy terrorism; the problem of Kashmiri youths and many other problems have been dramatically presented through the wonderful plot in this novel. Punit Sharma has done a commendable job in writing this piece of fiction. I will share my personal experience reading this novel. I hope it proves to be useful for others.
Half Widow is the story of Benazir, a woman on the verge of blindness and her husband, Afraaz. The couple leads a simple life as Afraaz sails his boat and earns enough for the food of the both. However, Afraaz is always anxious about the disease of his wife Benazir and is determined to do anything possible to get her eyes treated. A person enters his life who calls himself Raahi and tells Afraaz that he is the man of God (Allah). He promises to help Afraaz with money, more than enough for his wife’s operation if he works for him.
Punit Sharma has removed the peels from the crops of terrorism wonderfully. He has used the image of Raahi (a terrorist in disguise) to represent all the terrorists who lure the helpless Kashmiri citizens into becoming the proxies for terrorism. Afraaz falls into the trap and he helps Raahi in carrying the arsenal and unfortunately, an army officer, Sidhant unconsciously helps him by letting the vehicle pass without verification. Two innocent persons play into the hands of terrorists… not by their choice but being guided by the emotions – one for humanity and another for his love!
The real tragedy begins after the arrest of Afraaz. He lands in an army jail and Benazir is left out to face the world. What happens after that? Can Afraaz come out? Can Benazir help her husband prove himself innocent? I will not spoil the reading pleasure by revealing all these details. This novel in Hindi will be too close to the emotional quotient of the readers. So, for the best, read the novel Half Widow by Punit Sharma and find out the conclusion yourself.
From my side, I will surely say that Punit has created a wonderful fiction around the Uri attack, the Surgical Strike, and the Kashmiri unrest. A must read novel for all those who love to read about Kashmir and the Kashmir issue!
Review by Amit Mishra