Late Ghulam Rasool Gayoor (hereafter, GRG) was an illustrious son of the Kashmir soil whose life was cut short by some unknown assailants in 2005. Till his death, he had earned a name as a political and social activist. GRG could have remained in our memory as yet another Kashmiri to have got killed for his good deeds, but for the strenuous efforts of his son, Sayed Showkat Gayoor, he has posthumously emerged as a shining star in the galaxy of literary figures in Kashmir. God knows why GRG didn't publish his creative work during his lifetime. His dutiful son took this stupendous task of collecting his immense treasure of Kashmiri and Urdu poetry and prose and brought them to us in the form of books over the last six years. The present book, sail-o-sehra is the seventh book that is being released on the death anniversary of late GRG on 22 October.
sail-o-sehra (The Torrent and the Desert) is a collection of 77 Urdu poems on varied themes that attract us, especially, for their style and diction. GRG seems to have been familiar with both classical and modern forms of the ghazal form. He therefore killfully made use of the different combinations of words that manifest his command over the Urdu language. He says: meri haya ke pehloo main Changez baste hain/yoon main ne tegi azm ko zaibi kamr kiya". Tegi azm (sword of courage) is a combination that fits in well with the first line wherein Chengezes are living beside him. GRG is reflecting on what was happening around him. He felt deeply about it and gave vent to his feelings in his poetry. He is wailing over what is happening—bloodshed, deaths, loot and so on—and why it is happening. He cries: hai barg barg goshaye gulshan ka sogwar/jaise koyi janazah hai shamile barat (Every petal in the garden is mourning as if some coffin is accompanying a wedding procession).
God knows better whether GRG had premonitions or could foresee his early death. He says, gayoor ka uthega badnam sa janaza. I don't know when he wrote these lines, but it is certainly a reflection on how deaths occurred in the 1990s and how the dead got different labels to suit the cruel hands that snatched GRG like people from us. No doubt, GRG didn't die a 'badnam' (infamous) death, but aren't we witness to a multitude of deaths that got different bad labels? In the situation that we have been facing for many decades now, can one live a peaceful life? The answer is obviously negative. This GRG wails in the following lines: gam kha nahi sakte, lahoo pee nahi sakte/riste huye nasoorun main hum ji nahi sakte. The oozing wounds (riste huye nasoorun) will always give us pain. He laments the sad state- of-affairs and sings elegies that are genuine, selfless and sincere: nauha kunan sehar hai meri iss sham-i-gam se/ hairat main hain farishte andazi nauha gar se (In mourning is the morning for my sorrowful evening/Surprised are angels at the elegist's way of mourning). The most unfortunate part of this life is that the victims can't even wail for it is considered a crime. Contrarily, the criminals have become nobles: jurmi azeem hogayi mazloom ki karah/zalim ko dekho shamil-e ashraaf ho gaya. GRG isn't a propogandist; he has understood and felt the pain and suffering in the contemporary life and therefore wails: hum kya karainge dekh ke insaniyat ka khoon/nazuk jigar ko cheer ke ik ah aati hai. So deep is the pain in Gayoor that even Nature seems to wail with him over the sad happenings: gayoor rote hain tere naloon se kohsaar/pathar ka dil bhi pigla huwa abshaar hai.
GRG doesn't talk about birds and animals or meadows and forests. He is a serious poet who tries to fathom the deeper meaning of life. To him Qais of Najad, his beloved Laila, Ayoub's patience, Mount Horeb (Tur), deserts and jungles are more important than the chirping birds as they help him understand the meaning of life; he uses them as symbols or metaphors: main Qais-i-Najad hoon ya tur ka be-hosh tukda hun/main jo hun, intisab ishq tere naam ho jaye.
Gayoor's poetic talent has put him in the company of our well-known Urdu poets like Saifi Sopori, Hakeem Manzoor, GR Nazki and Rafique Raz, and he will live for ever in our hearts. GRG says: jo marjaon to reh jaye meri yeh dastan zindah/sarapa meri yadoon se yeh duniya ashkrez aaye. Liberal art does make the artist live in spite of Time's destructive power. That is what Shakespeare said to his mentor in one of his sonnets:
So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see
So long lives this. And gives life to thee.
As usual, sail-o-sehra (The Torrent and the Desert) is beautifully designed, its paper and printing quality is matchless. However, the pricing could be heavy on the pocket.