Professor G M Shad is a modern Kashmiri poet who is gifted with writing in Kashmiri, Urdu and Persian. His poetry reflects various social, political, psychological and aesthetic concerns which have a global appeal, though he seems to be talking about the contemporary issues confronting Kashmir and Kashmiris. Here, he is like William Wordsworth, a great Romantic poet, in observing his surroundings and writing about them. However, Shad's surroundings are not 'bliss of solitude'; they have become a part of his memory and give him pain. He wails for the loss that our society has suffered for the last more than two decades. He is not an escapist like Wordsworth and does not find solace in his rivers, streams, gardens and/or Nature, in general, because they seem to have taken a back seat vis-à-vis the heart-rending situation prevailing in the valley. There are certain moments of his memory which are so painful that he is compelled to express them through words so that, as readers, we feel the same way as the poet has felt while observing the events. No skylark fascinates Shad or makes him happy because his sorrow is too deep to bring about any ostensible change in his mood. Shad is therefore "nāshād" (dejected) because he finds all around him sufferings and cries of pain whether it is of the devastated women of Kananposhpora, or of people walking along the garrisoned roads in the valley. His latest book YADOON KE SULAGTE LAMHE (Sizzling Moments of Memory), published by Ali Mohammad & Sons, Srinagar, is a testimony to the fact that Shad has kept his eyes and ears open while observing, feeling and experiencing plight and predicament of Kashmiris. He states that the poems in the collection are reflective of the happenings in the last two decades, the sizzling of which has left an indelible mark on his memory and, thus, have become a part of his life (pp. 12-13).
Shad is as an insider talks about the predicament that Kashmir, in general, and some parts of it, in particular, have felt at the hands of police, army, politicians, leaders, etc. The poet laments the divided leadership of Kashmir, hypocrisy of clerics, corruption at the political level and many other ailments that our valley is experiencing day in and day out. He has devoted a full poem to the tragedy that befell womenfolk of Kananposhpora. "kunanposh wari" (p 131) is a woeful tale of woebegone women, the atrocities committed by the army, the inhuman treatment meted out to the victims at the hands of the local police etc. He begins the poem with these lines: "The tale of woe that he related all night/Everything in it made me weep all night/What a havoc [they] inflicted on Kunanposhwari!/People were crying out all night" (p. 131). The tragic event devastated women there. However, "Knowing everything, blind, dumb and deaf went/Whole godliness of democracy all night". And those who destroyed these women "Bullets they showered all night". What could be more pathetic than the behaviour of the local police that registered fake cases against the victims: "Against the victims, our own police/Made fake convictions all night". The entire poem sounds tragic and relates the apathy of the local police, the way all evidence was destroyed to shield the criminals and the crime and how the army after destroying the women, burnt down the village: "Not feeling satisfied at this, the tormentor/Burnt down the village all night".
Over the years, Kashmir has become a garrison: "Here, in our country army men have/Set up camps at every pathway" (p.133). This is a place where everything seems topsy-turvy: "So many leaders are there for freedom/But everyone has his own camp/Here amidst the crowd of leaders/Are scoundrels, loafers and looters" (op cit). Here, you can't tell the truth because the ruler has made a law that "Whosoever says the right thing, he/she would be targeted" (p. 124). It is not only what he calls the leaders of "hurriyat" alone who are divided; even the religious leaders and clerics are sailing in the same boat: "waiz ho, rahnuma ho tazabzub ke hain shikar/in main say kabhi eik idhar eik udhar" (Whether preacher or leader, all are in dilemma/Among them one goes hither and another thither") (p. 93). Shad says that in their lectures they talk of unity but everyone of them has his own way: "Our own leader has sold us!/O, brothers, do you know it?" (p. 94). The Parliamentary delegation doesn't make sense for him (p. 139) and the coalition (p. 147) doesn't make a good government. However, Shad is optimistic about the future, though the present is full of sorrow: "A believer never feels disappointed, Shad/However long the night may be, there's eventually the dawn" (p. 95). The enemy may take pride in being a majority but "We only look at Allah's help" (op cit). The poet weeps on seeing his people in this predicament: "Seeing this nation's predicament, my heart weeps/O, Shad, sorrows in my heart would make up a reservoir" (p. 124).
Shad doesn't feel shy of looking at his own (read it as 'our') faults (p. 14). He addresses God and says: "Lord, where have prayers of my heart gone?/Have they wrongly been placed elsewhere?" (op cit). His heart has become a wilderness and the poet wails: "ab mangne ka shad nahin hosla raha/who walwale, who josh, who jolanian gain". There are more than hundred poems in the collection dealing with varied contemporary themes. Shad writes in a simply style. He doesn't use unnecessary symbols which makes the reading of these poems very easy. Urdu lovers will, indeed find the collection very interesting.
Reviewer teaches at the English Department, Central University of Kashmir. Feedback at email@example.com