Why Don't You Convert

Why Don’t You Convert
Dr. K. L. Chowdhury
Title of the Book: Why don't you convert
Dr. K. L. Chowdhury
Paperback: 278 pages
Publisher: Vitasta Publication (1 April 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 9382711643, ISBN-13: 978-9382711643
Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 13.2 x 2 cm
Book Review
by Sharda Kaul

Sharda Kaul
On my recent trip to Jammu I had the chance to visit Dr. Chowdhury, and it was during this meeting when a big box arrived at his residence. I was pleasantly surprised when he opened it, and presented me with the first copy of his newly published book Why Don’t You Convert and Other Short Stories. As I opened the book to read the work of on of my favorite professors in medical school, I was excited by his message that the stories would transport me back to medical school. And indeed they did.

Dr. Chowdhury starts the book with a message about the universal human experience and the unity of humans despite a variety of contexts. As a primary care physician trained in Kashmir, yet practicing in the US, I felt connected to the stories both from a cultural and professional perspective.

One of the most touching and poignant stories is the title story, “Why Don’t You Convert”. The story shows the struggles of a young Kashmiri Pandit girl, Meera, and her painful choice between her livelihood and personal safety. At the end of the story, the reader is at the edge of their seat, invested in the life of the main character Meera.

Another story, “The Spell”, describes the ignorance and gullibility of a woman who is convinced in the magical powers of a local mullah. Dr. Chowdhury takes us through the mind of this typical Kashmiri character, who through all her struggles refuses to realize that the mullah himself is behind all her problems.

The stories in this book, while not in chronological order, cover the span of several years painted through a variety of perspectives in the valley. Most touching is the thread of stories that relate to the Kashmiri Pandit experience, and eventual exodus from their homes in Kashmir.

In about 23 stories, Dr. Chowdhury paints a diverse landscape of the valley through the perspective of his work as a physician and with the prowess of a seasoned storyteller. Reading through them all, it becomes evident that Dr. Chowdhury is attentive to the ordinary lives of his patients and values the story that each one of them brings. As both a physician and a person, it is a perspective that I deeply appreciate.

Many physicians, who have trained in Kashmir, will relate to the tales of patients and remember the distinct Kashmiri culture that surrounds medicine in the valley. All readers will be able to find comfort in the truly human stories presented in the book. I enjoyed the stories, and the feelings that reading this book elicited. A must read for those who are looking for a way to relive memories and experiences from a not too distant past.