Mushtaque Barq’s illuminated Pen

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5 mins read
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Tousif Raza

‘Pen is mightier than the sword’, was a myth to me up to college level. The day started to analyze the text at the university level; my mind was exposed to reality, and I comprehended the maxim. After reading between the lines, as was required at the university level, I realized that the nib of this pen is both deadly and compassionate. Accidentally or consciously, when I started to read about our indigenous writers, I found many writers have created a literary niche on their own and have contributed a lot. One such writer whom I admire is Mushtaque B Barq.

Within the shroud of night, an effulgent beacon emerges, casting its glow, not just illuminating the surroundings, but when it bears the light of knowledge, it acquaints our intellect with new tenets of life. When this same light is wielded by a mentor, it not only brightens the chambers of our hearts but also readies the spirit for flight toward higher truths. Such individuals are often known as ascetics, mystics, or hermits; their presence fosters an atmosphere where even the observers become seekers of truth. Following their embrace of wisdom, they journey forth as heralds of triumph wherever they tread.

Today, I shall share the tale of one such person, not just introducing you to his penmanship but also invoking the spiritual aroma he exudes. He isn’t just anyone else; he’s my beloved friend, Mushtaque Barq. Much has been penned about Mushtaque Barq, but what truly illuminates through his pen isn’t merely artistic finesse but a glimpse into various facets of his life. Through this, you’ll sense why Mushtaque Barq’s pen is a bestowed gift for the Kashmiri community.

For a connoisseur of the finest literary talents, Mushtaque’s pen alone suffices to leave an indelible mark. However, it’s not just his writings that have captivated my admiration; it’s the essence of his persona that resonates beyond the pages of books. I’ve delved into his works, such as ‘Songs of Soch Kral, ‘ Verses of Wahab Khar’’ ‘Wings of Love, and ‘Shades and Shadows.’ He’s not just a novelist and story writer, but an extraordinary poet as well. Besides English, his prowess extends to languages like Urdu, Kashmiri, and Hindi. His translations of magnificent Kashmiri poets like Sochh Kral and Ahad Zargar, G N Firaq, Satish Vimal, Shabnum Ashie, and Sohan Lal Kaul’s Kashmiri novels into English have presented these unparalleled poets to the world, positioning their philosophies against the backdrop of global literary paradigms. He proved that the Kashmiri language, among the oldest and most intricate, presents the nuances of life’s philosophy in its unique way. Beyond Sufi poets, his translations of numerous contemporary poets expanded the horizons of the Kashmiri language within the realms of global literature, philosophy, and scholarly discourse.

His elucidations, born from the verses of eminent and influential poets of the valley, often find their way into newspapers, providing budding writers with invaluable lessons in critique and research. In Mushtaque Barq’s ascetic qualities, it becomes evident that every word he pens endeavors to articulate the knowledge of the Divine in a philosophical tone, often through his own experiences. As an illustration, I present one of his ghazals to facilitate understanding.

Ghazal

A wanderer shall ever be a welcome guest of city inn
When the old bones, new brand and barren brain dwell in an unlike skin
On the arch of the city gate, toil turned the stone into an art
A thick contractor who knows nothing of the art but artist thin
Of fire and fan, soil and rain, hand, and hardship, this hut stands for
A ruthless gush of wind breaks the roof, exposes virtue and sin
What gaze this heart rips apart into bits on that roaring long night
When a tattered tailor on brows mercilessly ran his curved pin
From Laila’s kohl, a bard of yore, a verse on the foil eternized
Majoun, but buried him under the heap of metaphors within
On the balcony, under the hanging floor, a crowd of mirrors
Breaking this face into many faces, making everything grin
With what accuracy does love measure my agony and ache?
A scale set by abstainers can never be fit for lover’s kin

In the labyrinth of poetic creation, Mushtaque Barq weaves threads of divine philosophy into the fabric of his ghazal, painting a canvas rich with spiritual insights and existential reflections. Barq’s opening verse introduces the wanderer, a symbolic representation of the transient nature of human existence seeking solace within the city inn. This metaphorical wanderer epitomizes the human quest for deeper truths despite feeling detached from the transient world. The city gate arch, metamorphosed by toil into an art form, embodies life’s trans-formative journey. Barq’s juxtaposition of the “thick contractor” and the “artist thin” suggests that depth of insight transcends material pursuits, showcasing the essence of inner refinement.
The imagery of the hut weathering fire, rain, and hardship captures the vulnerability inherent in human life. This verse poignantly portrays the human condition, where external forces lay bare both the virtues and flaws within us. The vivid portrayal of the “roaring long night” delves into moments of intense introspection. Barq’s verse vividly expresses the soul’s turmoil, akin to a “tattered tailor” dissecting thoughts and emotions. Drawing inspiration from the timeless tale of Laila and Majnun, Barq symbolizes the eternal yearning for union with the divine, cloaked in layers of metaphor and romance, mirroring the longing for spiritual union. The metaphorical “crowd of mirrors” reflects life’s multifaceted nature, capturing the complexity of identities and experiences. Barq’s verse mirrors the diverse roles and facets that define human existence.

Lastly, the ghazal contemplates love’s depth in understanding human suffering, emphasizing its unparalleled capacity to comprehend the intricacies of human experiences, transcending worldly judgments. Within the eloquent verses of Mushtaque Barq’s ghazal, divine philosophy intertwines seamlessly, offering readers a passage into the realms of spiritual contemplation and existential truths. Each stanza whispers a fragment of the spiritual journey, resonating with seekers of higher knowledge and enlightenment. Through Barq’s artistic textile, the ghazal becomes a vessel guiding readers toward the shores of profound wisdom and spiritual illumination.
Apart from translations and poetic renditions, Barq’s contributions extend to the global literary panorama. His work transcends mere linguistic boundaries, elevating Kashmiri literature to a universal stage and showcasing the richness and philosophical depth of the language.

Moreover, his profound analyses of revered poets’ verses in newspapers provide invaluable insights for budding writers, fostering a legacy of critique, research, and literary appreciation. Mushtaque Barq emerges not only as a literary virtuoso but also as a custodian of the soulful narratives that illuminate the corridors of human existence. His oeuvre becomes a testament to the timeless journey of the human spirit, inspiring seekers of truth and wisdom across linguistic, cultural, and philosophical realms.
Apart from translations and poetic renditions, Barq’s contributions extend to the global literary panorama. His work transcends mere linguistic boundaries, elevating Kashmiri literature to a universal stage and showcasing the richness and philosophical depth of the language.

Moreover, his profound analyses of revered poets’ verses in newspapers provide invaluable insights for budding writers, fostering a legacy of critique, research, and literary appreciation. Mushtaque Barq emerges not only as a literary virtuoso but also as a custodian of the soulful narratives that illuminate the corridors of human existence. His oeuvre becomes a testament to the timeless journey of the human spirit, inspiring seekers of truth and wisdom across linguistic, cultural, and philosophical realms.

The Author is an English literature student who hails from Tangmarg and can be reached at tousifeqbal555@gmail.com

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