PART-II | Holding the weight of tradition

Creativity, curiosity, and perhaps, eccentricity are natural characteristics of a published poets. One could see curiosity as the dominant trait of Shad Ramzaan’s poetry. Besides, his poetry  invokes emotions. Life for Shad is a meaningful creation of the Almighty and death for him is nothing to be afraid of; instead he calls it ‘reunion with the God’. Once you have faith, you defeat all fears and life becomes meaningful, believes Shad.

The chain of Sufi poets in Kashmir started from 14th century with the famous poetess Lal Ded (Lalleshwari), the grand mystic woman poet of Kashmir who continues to inspire new generations of Kashmir. Hazrat Sheikh Noor-ud-Din Noorani (Nund Reshi) is the next legendary Sufi poet. In a long poem in the form of dialogue “ Kaem chaeth hoek diryaaw “ ( who could gulp down a river) Shad vehemently associates himself with the philosophy of these great saints. The beauty about the poem is  that in  just two lines beginning  with Doupnam (He said ) and Doupmus ( I answered ), the poet touches the major themes of  all those  great sufi poets of this order. Dr Sohan Koul, a critic, while praising the beauty of this poem says, “One who wants to understand the great spiritual tradition of Kashmir in the smallest time frame, should read the poem”

From eternity, the questions pertaining to being, cosmos, and the creator have been eluding man.  In a sweeping panorama of inquiry and exploration about cosmos, and the questions  on human existence,  great poets and thinkers in all times have made  these questions the major themes of their writing. And Shad is no exception. Reading Kori kakud gowem pushrith, one sees that cosmic mysteries, and the existential questions have been dealt with in detail. Shad believes love makes life beautiful. Love for mankind love of creation and the love of creator is dominant in his poetry though he laments the transitory nature of life and beauty.

Yim Gul pholaan chi soontus

Bar Tim gachaan chi hardas

Soi doed chum mae jigrus

Soi chum azar waen zaes

( The flowers that blossom in spring,

wither away in autumn

That is the pain in my heart

That is my agony, tell her)

Thari phoul ghulan ti thaekhay

Aasun panun ti wouchhay

Bar chus ghachoen bai  mousum

Hardun hawa chu toshaan

(The flower on the stalk,

would have felt proud of its being,

but for the gaze of autumn wind,

which has predicted its doom).

Prof Rehman Rahi says, “Poetry becomes great and universal when a poet succeeds to give tongue to his poetic language and experience to some personal issue concerning a human being. That should not be just a statement but must be relevant for all times. I have read and heard Shad Ramzaan and found  this dominant in his poetry”. Noted novelist and critic,   Dr Sohan Koul says. ‘Rahi and Kamil having great traditions of poetry in their kitty set to explore its greatest potential vis-à-vis humanity, life,  death and, existentialism. A rich poetic idiom got birth, especially a philosophical trend was evolved. After this school of Kashmiri poetry, it was a tough task to register another trend while the set tone, which was already present in the collective psyche of critics. But it was amazing to see that Shad Ramzaan  has  emerged as a new and parallel voice. He went ahead and gave further elasticity to the genre.”

Shad speaks sometimes directly, sometimes with powerful satire  about  present situation of Kashmir; our lost heritage and values, lost water bodies and archives, and many such losses that concern us.

With a powerful satire, he speaks thus about the now extinct  Nala Maar Canal, and abot   Zainavilas, a TV  drama on Budshah, allegedly lost.

Asi zan poosh ne nallai mar te zainavilas

path gow tote chi badshah seand zoer  bakhtawar

( Even if we lost Nallamar and Zainavilaas

we boast of being the blessed progeny of  Budshah)

Shad Ramzaan is very optimistic about the survival of Kashmir language. To him, “the language must absorb foreign words to survive, and remain relevant. For example, the pure Kashmiri word for Sun is Raew. But hardly any Kashmiri will understand this word today. During the influence of Sanskrit language here, we called sun as Suriya, but  then during  the dominance of Persian language  surya was overtaken by  the word aftab. But despite that, we have in our proverbs the word Raew.  Similarly, as technology introduces new inventions, you have to use it in your mother tongue, and there is no escape from it. For example, you have to call TV a  TV, even in Kashmiri language. If you try to resist it by calling it with a different name, you will create hurdles for younger generation to adopt the language.”  Shad adds, “but the closeness one feels when using words of your mother tongue, rather than foreign words, is paramount. For example, we would call our brother’s wife as Kakedaed and not Bhabi. There is no attachment with the word Bhabi, but the word Kakedaed has great affinity because we consider the wife of  our elder brother  just like  our own mother.  Sometimes we use two words simultaneously to end this dilemma, thus  retaining  our own word and also accepting  the foreign word. For example, Tout-naar (hot fire), Kruhun-siyah (pitch black). In the first example, tout is a Kashmiri word while naar is Persian. We too must develop such a mechanism of linguistic expansion that will help our language to evolve with changing times.”.

Any reviewer of Shad Ramzan’s poetry – Nazams and Ghazals – will  come to the conclusion  that  the poet is a zealous wordsmith, who rivets his readers. He informs, educates, and  helps restore readers’ faith in life. That is great art. And I believe Shad has mastered it.


Showkat Shafi  is former faculty at the Department of Journalism, KU. He is presently Dy. Director DIQA, Kashmir University.