Bandipora: In the quiet and scenic district of Bandipora in northern Kashmir, a 60-year-old Sufi poet has carved out a unique niche in the world of literature. Zarifa Jan, also known as the ‘Coded Poet of Kashmir’, has written over three hundred poems in a language that is incomprehensible to anyone else in the world except her.
According to her, she has created her own coded language to preserve her poetry, a skill that has been bestowed upon her by God. Despite never having attended school, Zarifa Jan’s talent for writing poetry is undeniable. Her poems and other poetic words are beloved by people, not just for the emotions they evoke, but also for the unique script in which she writes. She said that her written words are almost a form of art in themselves, with hardly any experts in the world who can read or understand her language.
Zarifa said that her daughter helps her preserve her words, and she attends mushairas and literary gatherings with her notes to present her poetry. For Zarifa Jan, writing in her own language is essential, as her physical weaknesses and short memory mean that she has to preserve her speech in a specific way. Whenever a verse comes to her mind, she takes a pen in her hand and saves her words by making specific marks and shapes on a blank paper,” she said.
One can only imagine the complexity of the language Zarifa Jan has created for herself. It is a testament to her intelligence and creativity that she has managed to create a language that is so uniquely hers, yet still manages to convey the emotions and meanings she wants to express.
For decades, she said has been writing poetry, and she knows very well that her unique style and expression of her writing make her poetry different from others. Her daughter wishes for her mother’s words to be put before the people in book form, both in the form of her own invented script and in a decoded version.
Zarifa Jan’s dream is to see her poetry in book form, a project that she will continue to work on with the help of her daughter. Shakir Shafi believes that Zarifa Jan is one of the few female Sufi poets in Kashmir. He acknowledges that as far as Sufism is concerned, poets like Zarifa Jan have knowledge given by Allah, which is not possible for ordinary people to understand.
Shafi further emphasizes that Zarifa Jan’s unique style of writing is a skill bestowed upon her by Allah, which no one can understand or study without her.
Zarifa Jan’s poetry is not just a product of her unique style of writing but also a reflection of the rich Sufi culture that is prevalent in Kashmir. Her words evoke deep emotions and connect with readers on a spiritual level. Zarifa Jan has made a name for herself in the world of literature and has become a source of inspiration for many.
Despite the obstacles she has faced in life, she has continued pursuing her passion for poetry and has succeeded in creating something unique and beautiful. Zarifa Jan’s impact on Kashmiri literature cannot be overstated. Her unique style and approach to poetry have inspired many young writers in the region to pursue their passions and explore new avenues in literature.
Her work has also shed light on the rich and diverse cultural heritage of Kashmir, which has been under threat in recent times due to political turmoil and unrest in the region. Despite her age and physical limitations, Zarifa Jan remains committed to her craft and continues to write new poetry regularly. Her dedication and passion for her art serve as an inspiration to all those who know her. She is a living embodiment of the power of creativity and the ability of the human spirit to triumph over adversity.
Zarifa Jan’s story is a testament to the power of the human imagination and the ability of the human spirit to transcend all barriers. Her unique style of writing and her commitment to preserving her poetry have made her a beloved figure in the literary world of Kashmir and beyond. The poetry continues to inspire and touch readers’ hearts, and her legacy will endure for generations to come.