"My memory is again in the way of your history.
Army convoys all night like desert caravans:
In the smoking oil of dimmed headlights,
time dissolved—all winter—its crushed fennel.
We can’t ask them: Are you done with the world?"
It is not easy to talk about Kashmir. While it's been over a year since the longest Internet blackout, one cannot but try to understand the essence of Kashmir beyond the news we read. I personally got a glimpse of this in Munnu: A Boy from Kashmir, Malik Sajad's visual narrative on growing up in Kashmir. But what is it to live in Kashmir, in a region that has seen so much conflict and where the army still patrol the streets.
In Shades of Kashmir, photojournalist Shome Basu attempts to tell the story of everyday life in the Valley, capturing the inner unrest, the unseen reality that is often missed. Women playing cricket on one page; roaring protests, death and half-wives in others. The 176 black and white photographs in the book, divided across four sections - landscape, daily life, people and protest - make it an important repository of contemporary history. Shome captures the many shades of conflict in Kashmir with a sense of empathy and sensitivity. He uses the camera to tell stories that one would otherwise avoid seeing yet evokes a sense of humanity.
As political scientist Happymon Jacob writes in the book's foreword, "Helplessness has multiple effects on us. On the one hand, looking at these images, you feel helpless that you cannot do anything to alleviate their tragedy and suffering. that you are an inadequate, silent spectator. On the other hand, images, especially the powerful and evocative ones, transport you to the world captured in the image and then back you back into your own; you come face-to-face with a tragedy, you can hardly do anything about it. You are there, but you are not."