Every AK-47 rifle in Kashmir isn’t life threatening. Not in south Kashmir, at least. The innocuous and uncanny model of the weapon made by 25-year-old Mohammad Jibran from Pulwama district has an emptied pen refill as its barrel, a wooden magazine and a discarded little perfume can as its scope aimed at infusing ‘life’ into scrap rather than taking one.
But it almost took the young man’s own life getting inspired towards 3D art and becoming the kind of artist he is today.
Hailing from the little known Pingalgam village along the Srinagar-Pulwama road, Jibran used to be a fitness buff who could grasp two paddy filled sacks in each of his arms.
But on the fateful day of March six years ago, Jibran met a tragic car accident that absolutely upended his life. A day associated with a new beginning (Nauroz) traditionally, was etched in Jibran’s mind anyway as he remembers the date by heart- “March 21, 2015”.
While his friend, who was behind the wheel at the time, recuperated from the accident, Jibran, in his BA 2nd year at Degree College Pulwama at the time, suffered a critical spinal cord injury leaving him fully disabled and absolutely paralyzed bereft of sensation for the next two years or so.
Jibran’s father, Mohammad Yousuf feels the doctors at a leading tertiary care hospital in Srinagar, where Jibran was shifted for treatment immediately after the mishap, failed them by delaying the surgery as suggested to them later by a leading doctor from outside the valley.
The teen, who personified vigour, was at once rendered virtually lifeless without even feeling anything. Faced with the new harsh reality of life grappling to make peace with it, Jibran could only wait for time, which they say heals all wounds. But the one Jibran had suffered was probably too severe to be fixed.
Although Jibran started to regain the lost sensation to some extent from 2017, the paralysis below the waist persisted. What came full circle was his knack for 3D art-Jibran’s childhood hobby of infusing life into scrap by turning cardboard pieces and other disposed items into car models leaving passersby astonished.
A pastime calligraphist also, Jibran however embraced the 3D art as his full time profession after the accident even though it was only a diversion initially to distract the mind from the mental trauma the accident had caused.
“Although I had an inclination towards art from the outset, I used to kill time (through the art) after the accident,” the shy young man recalled with intermittent sighs and pauses while speaking to Greater Kashmir.
In the meantime, Jibran also created a YouTube channel ‘Jibran &Art’ in a bid to reach out to a larger customer base for his models-notable among them near carbon copy cardboard models of Masjid Al-Haram housing the Holy Kaaba, Masjid Al-Nabwi harbouring the final resting place of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) marked by the Gumbad-e-Khizra-the Green coloured dome, a Mars rover and a fancy house beside a makeshift styrofoam waterfall burbling water bubbles through a mini-water pump and lit with dazzling green light.
The ditto model of a 4×4 jeep by Jibran has a body entirely made up of cardboard and tyres of rolled heavy paper.
Likewise, the ‘Pirate Ship’ model has a cardboard vessel, the sails made of used cloth interwoven by pieces of thread and a network of used pen refills and wires.
Cardboard is the ubiquitous raw material featuring in almost all of Jibran’s creations. Besides the common disposed items like tin cans, wires and styrofoam, Jibran orders the additional required accessories from the online shopping websites, but the artist complained that the sites had “blacklisted” the area in the aftermath of militant commander, Burhan Wani’s killing in 2016 and the subsequent Kashmir shutdown much to his inconvenience.
“I can’t order on my village address, but am supposed to travel kilometers in case I place an order, which gets difficult at times,” Jibran said.
Receiving the parcels should indeed be tricky for the young artist at times as his elder brother has completely dedicated his life serving his younger brother since the accident while their mother is suffering from Parkinson’s disease.
Jibran’s father, Mohammad Yousuf is a government employee in the Industries Department while his sister, the youngest of the siblings is in class 12.
Yousuf’s know-how in the department has probably come handy as the Srinagar centre of the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) has offered to provide a platform to Jibran to showcase his talent and find buyers for his models on a large scale.
As part of the endeavour, Jibran also participated in the recent National Toy Fair, which was organized by the Central government through virtual mode. The programme ran from February 28- March 2.
Assistant Director at MSME’s Srinagar Development Institute, Saheel Alaqband while speaking to Greater Kashmir said that Jibran is now a registered entrepreneur with the MSME and is eligible to participate in national and international exhibitions in future.
Alaqband hoped that Jibran would be able to attract buyers on a scale enough for him to earn a livelihood.
The young artist was also felicitated by the NIT Srinagar last year and recently by the Deputy Commissioner Pulwama on the occasion of 26th January.
For Jibran’s father Mohammad Yousuf though, the mere commendations would be too meager for the emotion his son puts into the objects.
“What Jibran creates are not merely toys of trash, they reflect his toil and all the emotions he blends in them. Although they are very delicate and not very durable, but for me they are antique,” the anxious father said.
Nonetheless, the MSME’s intervention to provide Jibran the much required market for his products could be a game changer for the young artist, Yousuf acknowledges.
“How long will we last and be there for him? I hope he manages a sustainable livelihood, so that he thinks that he counts somewhere,” he added with a sigh.