It is a little more than six years ago that I began to write a novel ‘The Infidel Next Door’ based on my work with Kashmiri Hindus in the refugee camps. The book, a narrative about the seventh exodus of Kashmiri Hindus as seen through the eyes of two boys who live next door to each other in Kashmir and who belong to different faiths, tells the reader of why the Hindu civilization in Kashmir came to an end because of religious persecution of Hindus.
The book was rejected by twenty nine publishers. As I was to learn later, it was because of the theme of my book.
“A Hindu man searching for his roots is not what our country is ready for at the moment,” I was told.
“Why not instead write about mythology, college romances or self-help?” someone asked me.
“Bash Brahminical patriarchy, the plight of untouchables as the core theme,” another publisher advised. “It will be lapped up.”
The run of bad luck ended with the thirtieth publisher.
Fondly called Utpalji, he told me after reading it, “It is a book with a difference and has a soul.”
He then added what is music to every writer. “I will take the risk and publish it without a cut and see to it that it reaches the readers.”
He kept his promise and worked hard at it. The book is now available onwww.amazon.in.
Rejection of manuscripts is nothing alien to many authors. What keeps his spirit alive are the reviews by the unknown readers inspite of numerous rejections.
There were readers who wrote saying this book not only made them reflect on their identity but could also relate with the struggle of characters as universal, reflecting of modern times. Some added saying it made them understand the raw religious divide that exists between Hinduism and Islam and it brought a feeling of healing and closure.
I thank everyone, specifically the unknown readers who wrote to me and want to say it is a journey I will continue with your support.