Nazki’s 23-year-journey to writing ‘Satisar – The Valley of Demons’
Srinagar, July 23: Surrounded by books and black and white portraits, a desk faces the wall next to a window. Ayaz Rasool Nazki gets up to open the blinds, letting the soft, gray light of the morning pour across his workspace. Holding a copy of his newly-launched book, titled ‘Satisar-The Valley of Demons’, Ayaz recollects his writing journey. “Somewhere during eighties of the last century, I conceived the idea of writing a book in the backdrop of Kashmir’s history. Then the entire situation changed in Kashmir, and we got busy writing the history rather than reading it,” he says. “The germ of the idea remained with me.” His idea of writing the book materialised in June 1995, with his determination helping him complete a major portion of it in 28 days.
“The remaining portion had to wait for a little over two years,” says Ayaz. The book was revised several times over the next two decades. He continued to chop and prune the narratives. Besides, no one had been really ready to risk publishing his fictionalised history as it was thought to be blasphemous. Kashmir and its interesting history has served as the main inspiration for the poet turned author. “My book has been officially classified as historical fiction. In my opinion my book is rooted in history but is not a book of history. What I attempt is the recapitulation of past as an essential element of present as well as future. It is a continuum essentially indivisible, that is why my characters taken from past come alive in present and become contemporary,” says Ayaz. The book has been written in a post-modern narrative technique where narrative voices intersect. Commenting on the usage of this particular technique, Ayaz says, “I think no author decides about a technique before-hand, the story evolves along with its style and technique in one indivisible whole. The matter decides the way it has to dawn upon your pages.” The author adopted a route that is not very common in Kashmir. His book has been placed via literary agent. “I find it a useful way as the author is spared the hassles of running after publishers. You deal with your agent, and he deals with the world on your behalf. Good agents also help in publicity and increasing the marketability,” says Ayaz. Commenting on this paucity of positive press, Ayaz notes, “There is a huge difference between publishing your own books in Urdu Kashmiri and getting published on a national level through a reputed publisher. The fact is we have almost no readers in the two languages that we produce books. Dearth of readership is at the back of this sad situation.” Despite the presence of J&K cultural Academy, which was tasked with promoting language and literature of the state, things remain unchanged. Ayaz believes it’s high time that J& K Cultural Academy reorients itself and rediscovers its mandate. “About Academy, less said the better; it has never come out of bureaucratic control and continues to be run as a personal propaganda machine, with outdated and obsolete methods,” says the author. The book has received rave recommendations from critics and authors including few from abroad. Fiona Bolger, Ranjit Hoskote, Pankaj Bhan, and Shabir Mir are some of those who have critically evaluated the book. It is distributed throughout the country. Few universities have also held interactive sessions about the book.