Munnu- A Boy From Kashmir
This book (Published by Harper Collins) by Malik Sajad is about the seven-year-old Munnu whose life revolves around his family: Mama, Papa, sister Shahnaz, brothers Adil and Akhtar and, his favourite, older brother Bilal. It also revolves around Munnu’s two favourite things - sugar and drawing.
But Munnu’s is a childhood experienced against the backdrop of conflict. Bilal’s classmates are crossing over into the Pakistan-administered portion of Kashmir to be trained to resist the ‘occupation’; Papa and Bilal are regularly taken by the military to identification parades Munnu’s school is closed; close neighbours are killed and the homes of Kashmiri Hindu families lie abandoned, as once close, mixed communities have ruptured under the pressure of Kashmir’s divisions.
Munnu is an amazingly personal insight into Kashmir. Closely based on Malik Sajad’s own childhood and experiences, it is a beautiful, evocatively drawn graphic novel that questions every aspect of the Kashmir situation - the faults and responsibilities of every side, the history of the region, the role of Britain and the West, the possibilities for the future. It opens up the story of this contested and conflicted land, while also giving a brilliantly close, funny and warm-hearted portrait of a boy’s childhood and coming-of-age.