Mir Imtiyaz Aafreen
Poetry is the rhythmic expression of thoughts and feelings through the medium of language. Great poets from diverse cultures, having an outstanding command on language, gave an artistic expression to human thoughts and feelings through their eternal lines. A poet is the mirror of his age, he not only represents it but also strives to reform it. Though a poet usually responds to his personal perceptions but at the same time he cannot remain unaffected by his socio-cultural background.
According to Shelley, a poet is like a nightingale that sings in the dark corner of loneliness to delight itself with sweet melodies. Loneliness is a great asset of the poet as it enables him to ponder over things and as a result he comes up with the words of wisdom. Mostly a poet describes his subjective experiences in his poetry and responding to this some people raise questions regarding its relevance to general human condition. We must always remember that all of us in one way or the other are players on the stage of life, we as human individuals have common emotional concerns and predicaments. Thus, nothing is personal or subjective in poetry, the voice of the poet is our own voice returned to us indirectly.
One of the greatest poets and critics of Kashmiri language and literature, Rahman Rahi has passed away leaving behind a wonderful legacy of many valuable collections of poetry as well as some thought-provoking articles on literary criticism. He first tested his poetical capabilities with some poems in Urdu and earned critical acclaim for his remarkable work. Later, he turned towards his mother tongue i.e., Kashmiri language and left indelible marks in the contemporary history of Kashmiri literature. He is the first and only Kashmiri writer to receive the much-coveted Jnanpith Award, India’s highest literary award, for his poetic collection ‘Siyah Roud Jaren Manz’.
Born in Srinagar in 1925, named as Abdul Rahman Mir, he was brought up by his uncle after being orphaned at an early age. However, he worked hard to rise against all odds and later in life achieved great success. In fact, he is privileged to have founded the Kashmiri department at Kashmir University. From decades, he has been leading the movement for the promotion and preservation of Kashmiri language and literature.
After Mahjoor and Abdul Ahad Azad, being associated with the progressive writers, he added new dimensions to Kashmiri literature. Rahman Rahi can be called the poet of seclusion as he often takes refuge in his own inner conflicts and is perturbed by the tumults of the destiny.
“Ba sehra yim sada raavan kout taamath
Falaq laa-taluqi haavan kout taamath”
How long my cries would get lost in the desert?
How long the skies would show unfamiliarity.”
He’s well-known for giving an artistic expression to the existential crisis of the modern man. In his metaphysical poem ‘Pae Chhu Zulmataye Wuzaan’, at the begining he is tortured and haunted by his guilty conscience but towards the end, his pessimistic outlook changes in the hope symbolized by his son. He hopes that, “Perchance some oyster has laboured forth a pearl.”
At times, he raises a cry of grief and says,
“Zind rozna baapath chhi maraan laekh, tsi marakh na
Louti paethh chakha pyala, kiho ouf ti karakh na”
“People are dying in order to live, shall you not die?
Would you drink the hemlock in silence and shall not complain.”
However, he somehow manages to see a ray of hope in ample darkness.
“Wudr paethh agar raat laej touti kyah gao
Pagah karvanas chhi gulzar chhawin”
Worry not for today, if you have to spend the night on the rocky hills, tomorrow the caravan will enjoy in the flower garden.
Despite being loaded with the intricacies of life; his poetry is not devoid of aesthetic excellence.
“Yi naar wuhi naye, yi treish huri nayi
Gulab chhui shah, sharab chhey aechh”
Let the fire be kept burning and the thirst be left unquenched
Your breath is rose and the eyes are liquor.
However, Rahi is a master in creating wonderful images in his poetry. In first stages of his poetic career, the images were attractive and familiar but later on they turned into something intricate and unfamiliar that is why people find it difficult to understand him. With the introduction of new themes and expressions, he made efforts to set Kashmiri poetry on the world- accepted parameters of literature.
He asks in his poem ‘Sona Lanki Paethh’:
“Mouti kis panjras chhuna ad waets ti rozan daer zanh”
Can’t the window of the cage of death be half open?
A vacuum has got created in the literary landscape of Kashmiri literature due to his death and only time will tell how long it will take to fill that void.
The author can be reached at email@example.com