Srinagar, Jun 28: Conflict and art have an abiding relationship, for the former evokes the need to express. Of late, Kashmir has seen this trend grow and as the valley descends into a period of turmoil, art has arisen to record the trauma of populism.
Both fiction and poetry are in demand, and two young writers have come up with their first books recently.
“We wouldn’t get Shahid back, but here’s a young man from the scorching land of Kashmir speaking to you about the taste of tumors, the scent of memory, the bite of drought with a ‘heart that is empty, quite empty’,” reads the blurb on Huzaifa Pandit’s debut collection of poems, ‘Green is the Colour of Memory’.
Huzaifa is pursuing his PhD in resistance poetry from University of Kashmir, focusing on Faiz (Pakistan), Agha Shahid Ali (Kashmiri origin) and Mahmoud Darwish (Palestine). His book is a collection of 36 poems. It has been published by Hawakal Publishers.
His poetry subtly describes “Kashmir as an expression of love, of hurt and a dream one chases for a life without violence and trauma”.
The book was the prizewinning entry of an international Chapbook competition held by Rhythm Divine Poets, Kolkata.
“I had submitted a short manuscript of about 20 poems in 2017 summer, and the results were declared in January 2018. They signed a deal then with Hawakal Publishers who were the publishers of one of the founding members Amit Shankar Saha. I later added about 10-12 poems to the manuscript, and it came out as a thin volume,” he says.
The book was written over a period of six years from 2012-18.
“The first draft of the poems was written when I was a Masters student at University of Pune, and studied creative writing in the first two semesters. However, most of the poems written during that period were eventually discarded. Most of the poems were written from 2014 to 2018 after I moved back (to Kashmir),” says Huzaifa.
Huzaifa treaded the path of writing in the summer of 2012.
“I started writing only in the summer of 2012. It came naturally as I struggled with a mental illness. Writing seemed to be a way to quiet the noise in my head. My doctors encouraged me to write, as it was thought to be a good catharsis,” he says.
After moving to Pune for his masters, the young poet struggled with the cultural difference, and loneliness.
“It was the first time I had been out of my home and away from my family. I turned to poetry to fill in the feelings of emptiness and loneliness. Since I also studied creative writing formally, I was required to produce poems as part of class assignments. That contributed too,” he says.
His book is comprised mainly of two kinds of poems – one which are deeply personal, written as a reaction to certain triggers and the political ones.
“For example, the title poem ‘Sketches of Memory’ was written at night in the first semester. I was returning from the hostel mess which was a ten-minute walk from our hostel after dinner. It was a dark path, and at a bend I noticed an electric lamp which threw greenish shadows on the ground. The first line of the poem: Green is the colour of memory, came floating in my mind, and thus the poem was conceived,” he recounts.
Huzaifa recalls that while pursuing his Masters, he also became more deeply aware of his Kashmiri Muslim identity.
“This happened primarily since I had excellent professors for three courses which deal with identity politics: Post-Colonial Literature, Feminism and LGBTQ literature. The LGBTQ professor, R Raj Rao, who was also our Head of Department, is an excellent poet in his own right, who writes about Queer identity. Drawing from the readings and responses, I started bringing more of Kashmir into my poetry,” he says.
With his love for Faiz Ahmed Faiz, he tried to express the experience of Kashmir in the poems.
“At the Cafes of your Memory, is an example that tries to express the survivor’s guilt after hearing news of civilian killings,” he says.
Commenting on the response received by the book so far, Huzaifa says, “Depends upon your definition of response. If you go by the numbers sold, then it may not be a raging success. But, if you judge it by the responses of those who have read it, it has been a decent success, atleast on social media. Recently, a friend Frency Manecksha wrote an essay on RAIOT dissecting the recent UN report on Kashmir. She started and ended with quotes from poems in the book. As it is poetry doesn’t sell a great deal, as compared to say, a novel, so that must be factored in too. Within its limitations, I think it has done alright.”
While explaining the myriad problems faced by budding writers, Huzaifa is especially critical of vanity publishing which has seen a spurt in recent years.
“Well the primary problem as with everything else is conflict. Conflict consumes the society with the anxiety of survival. It leaves no time for pursuits like establishment of any serious institution say a poetry collective that would encourage young people. The second problem is lack of access. Universities and schools still don’t encourage any serious pursuit of literature. It is all exam-oriented, and rarely develops a taste for literature that translates into lack of reading habits which thwarts growth,” he says.
He describes the explosion of “self-publishing” another major problem, as it allows you to bypass the traditional route where “you have to really slog and revise till some publisher accepts your work”.
The young poet has another book in the pipeline which will be translated mainly from Urdu, accompanied by essays elaborating contexts.
“I have a view that translation can be employed as a tool of production of resistance literature, and the book will demonstrate my theory.”
“The Night of Broken Glass is a work of terrifying and hypnotic beauty. Feroz Rather unsparingly sees through the horrors inflicted on the body and soul of Kashmir. I am reeling from the power and beauty of its sentences,” writes author, Basharat Peer.
Debutant author, Feroz Rather is currently a doctoral student of creative writing at Florida State University.
His novel ‘The night of Broken Glass’ is published by Harper Collins, India.
It is a fictional account of the sufferings of common people from the insurgency-torn ‘90s. It provides the readers a glimpse of the courage and daily life struggles of the people.
“In Kashmir we’ve experienced the worst. The spectacles of violence are jarring. The Night of Broken Glass is an attempt to capture that in the form of stories. There is a story called “The Stone Thrower” about this boy who witnesses another boy with a torn skull. The story measures the psychological impact of that experience on the protagonist and the battle to preserve his humanity and sanity,” says Feroz.
The author’s tryst with storytelling began at an early age. “I have been writing for many years now. When I started my MFA in 2010 at California State University, I wrote every morning for a couple of hours. But the Night of Broken Glass is something completely new and was written in Tallahassee during the last two years,” says Feroz.
Feroz believes that over the last three decades, Kashmir has been mired in violence and the effects of the violence on its inhabitants have rarely been rendered in fiction.
“It is one of the first fiction books in the market talking about Kashmir. The author’s writing style draws the reader in as it paints a violent image of the insurgency while also treating it with gentleness, peace and courage. It is one of our lead literary debuts,” says the young author.
His detailed imagery explores the psychological impact of the turmoil on its natives – Showkat who is made to wipe off graffiti on the wall of his shop with his tongue; Rosy, a progressive, jeans-wearing ‘upper-caste’ girl who is in love with ‘lower-caste’ Jamshid; Jamshid’s father Gulam, a cobbler by profession who never finds his son’s bullet-riddled body; the ineffectual Nadim ‘Pasture’ who proclaims himself a full-fledged rebel; even the barbaric and tyrannical Major S who has to contend with his own nightmares.
Rather recommends a generous dose of reading for any budding writer. He himself read Joyce’s Dubliners observing its craft and characterization closely, and was finally inspired enough to write a short story about a woman from Pampore titled ‘The Summer of 2010’.
The book has got rave recommendations from noted authors like Basharat Peer, Mirza Waheed, and Siddhartha Deb.
“Various media houses lining up to review it and interview the author. The cover has also been well received by people,” says Feroz
The experimentation into new genres bodes well for the English literary traditions in Kashmir.
GMC admits: Patients referred to Srinagar attended by juniors
Srinagar, Jan 21: The Government Medical College (GMC), Srinagar Monday acknowledged that the patients referred to its associated hospitals in Srinagar are being treated by junior doctors.
A circular by Principal GMC, Dr Samia Rashid said it had come to her notice that “patients referred from various district, sub-district hospitals and peripheries for specialised treatment in Associated hospitals of GMC Srinagar are being attended by Junior Residents without taking advice and consultation from their Registrars and Consultants on emergency duty.”
The circular asked the head of departments and units to ensure that referral patients are only seen by registrars or senior residents on emergency duty.
“The head of the departments and units are also impressed upon to ensure that Consultants on emergency duty…should make periodic rounds on their emergency day and take final evening round in emergency areas. Registrars and other resident staff on emergency duty should note down their advice in respect of patients admitted,” the circular reads.
The GMC Principal, as per the circular, asked the medical superintendents of the associated hospitals to monitor the work of Resident Medical Officers (RMOs) and Casualty Medical Officer (CMOs).
“…check whether they are discharging their duties as per their job profile…take necessary disciplinary action against the RMO/CMO who fails to discharge their assigned duties.”
The GMC circular follows the Thursday’s incident in which a pregnant woman, who was referred from Kupwara to Lal Ded hospital, was forced to deliver her baby on road when the doctor on duty refused to admit her.
The baby delivered in sub-zero temperatures died soon after.
Facing flak, the hospital ordered a probe immediately, which, eventually, concluded: “The doctor with her clinical assessment/USG findings did not anticipate the precipitate delivery in her, although unfortunately the doctor on duty went against the SOP for referrals by not admitting the patient.”
No negligence will be tolerated: Adv Kumar
Jammu, Jan 21: Taking a serious note of alleged mishandling of a pregnant lady from District Kupwara at L. D Hospital, Advisor to Governor, K Vijay Kumar Monday conveyed his sympathies with the affected family and assured a thorough enquiry into the unfortunate incident.
Chairing a high level meeting in this regard attended by Principal Secretary, Health & Medical Education, Atal Dullo; Principal, GMCs of Srinagar and Jammu; Directors of Health Services of Kashmir & Jammu besides Medical Superintendents of several hospitals the Advisor informed that the Governor has instructed that Hospital authorities across the State should strictly adhere to the Standard Operating Procedures (SoPs) in the case of referrals to tertiary care hospitals adding that no negligence in observing these SoPs would be tolerated in future.
He said maintaining high standards of health care delivery to the citizens of the State should be observed at all costs and that the Governor’s Administration is committed to fill in all the existing gaps of manpower, equipment and infrastructure to strengthen the primary healthcare system across the State.
The Advisor sought recommendations to identify the lapses and gaps so that such incidents do not take place in future. He directed the Principal GMC Srinagar and Jammu and Director Health Services Kashmir/ Jammu to identify Nodal Officers who shall solely be responsible for streamlining the referrals from primary and secondary health care institutions to tertiary care hospitals in the State.
He said that directions have been issued as part of the ‘Auditing Mechanism’ that doctor’s prescription shall be inscribed with seal/ stamp mentioning name and credentials of the prescribing and referring doctor so that responsibilities can be fixed in any eventuality.
‘Bukhari tried to sell PDP for his personal gains’
Srinagar, Jan 21: Refuting that Altaf Bukhari’s name was at any point suggested as an interim president of the party, Vice President Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Abdul Rahman Veeri on Monday said that seeking “self-promotion through illicit, undemocratic and unethical measures” was Bukhari’s sole agenda in PDP.
Veeri, in a statement, said that across the state, party functionaries, workers and activists en-masse support Mehbooba Mufti in her every endeavour to get the state out of the present cycle of violence.
“Every person associated with the PDP has witnessed how amid the tumultuous times Mehbooba Mufti built the party brick by brick and made it a guiding force in Jammu and Kashmir’s political landscape,” Veeri said.
He added that in spite of taking over in very trying circumstances, PDP president ran the government with “integrity and caliber”.
“However, she was back-stabbed by some people especially Altaf Bukhari,” he said.
Veeri said that by giving out his desire to become PDP President, Bukhari had “exposed his real agenda which he initiated within days after Mufti saheb’s death.”
“For that he even made Nagpur Yatra in a bid to seek their blessings for forming the government at the cost of party and state interest. Ever since the death of Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, he tried to grab the party and sell it out for promotion of his personal ambitions,” said Veeri.
The PDP Vice President stated further that every person is now aware that when party President Mehbooba Mufti was standing firm before the government of India, Bukhari even went up to Nagpur to offer his services as an alternative. “Such action of his sabotaged the agenda of alliance and the negotiations Mehbooba Mufti was having with the government of India, demanding implementation of specific points in the agenda of alliance as a precondition for taking over as the Chief Minister of the state,” Veeri said.
The PDP veteran added that even when the government headed by Mehbooba Mufti was formed in April 2016, a clear signal was given to Bukhari as he was dropped from the cabinet. It was later, according to Veeri, on assurances of good conduct from Bukhari that his position was restored.
He said that the ousted leader had no problem with the party till the government was in place and he begun inventing issues soon after the dissolution of assembly.
“Till the dissolution, Bukhari had the hopes of getting the government back. Though, till then, he was behaving like a party man but his one foot was in PDP and his soul and spirit were with all other parties except PDP. He was in contact with the outlaws and even made hectic efforts to instigate rebellion within the party,” Veeri said, adding that soon after dissolution of assembly, Bukhari saw only one way of finishing the PDP and that was by taking over as president and he openly told some party leaders that he wants to take over as a prize for him to stay in the party.
“He had a one point agenda and that was to take over the party and sell it out for promoting his political and other interests. Now exposed, he is openly declaring his ambitions in public,” Veeri said.
He added that people of the state know Mehbooba Mufti as a person with “selfless courage and a desire to ensure betterment in peoples’ lives.”
“It is not Mehbooba Mufti who needs PDP. It is actually the PDP which needs the person of her stature. Her command and sincerity in work is already being praised by one and all, not only in JK but across the country. She has battled against various forces very bravely and the impression she has left on the minds of people is that she is actuated by high sense of fairness and impartiality. Every person associated with the PDP is proud of her leadership and is hopeful that she will lead the people of the state to their permanent prosperity,” said Veeri.
Dy Mayor assaulted during SMC’s councilors session
Srinagar, Jan 21: Deputy Mayor of Srinagar Municipal Corporation, Sheikh Imran was Monday injured when “two corporators” allegedly assaulted him during the councilor session of the corporation.
He was shifted to police hospital for immediate treatment.
A senior police official confirmed the incident and said that a case has been registered and further action taken up.
After being discharged from hospital, Imran addressed a presser alleging that he was attacked by two “RSS and BJP-backed corporators”.
He said assault on him was pre-planned by the “BJP-backed mayor” and hoped that police will take appropriate action in the case.
“I will not bow down by such tactics. I will continue to speak against corruption and injustice,” he said, adding that he was attacked for launching a “tirade against BJP and Hindutva campaigns.” Imran said that he was committed to “kicking out” the BJP from Kashmir.
“From the first day, I urged the administration to look into the issue of BJP, RSS sponsored Mayor but they turned deaf ears to my pleas,” he said.