Before the abrogation of Article 370, who were the actors in Kashmir’s theatre of the absurd? The youngsters who could not escape abroad had to play self-destructive roles decided by manipulators sitting in Pakistan. This riveting narrative delves deep into how Muslim families lost their moorings. A teenaged boy turns to militancy in a desperate quest for employment and identity. A college-going girl is sent to JNU for an insidious agenda of radicalisation of the intelligentsia. Forbidden love blooms but is doomed. The story is told with empathy and passion by a Kashmiri Pandit who is well aware that the exodus of his community was not a triumph for Muslims but an irreparable loss. The modern education they imparted was replaced by rigid dogma. The main protagonist is Barkat, an orphan brought up in Mughalsarai by a beggar. During his sojourn in Kashmir, living in the shadows, he discovers that a proud society can be saved only if it takes charge of its own destiny. This is also a dirge for a composite culture that was systematically destroyed. The underlying theme is that nativity in universality is the way out of the morass.