Majboor's Waves - A Review
Dr. R. L. Bhat
Over the three score pages, less two, Majboor Weaves patterns
of love, longing and desolation, that must now be counted the essential fate of
the displaced Kashmiri. Arjan Dev Majboor is a poet, an enduring poet of the
Kashmiri, who has half a dozen collection of poetry books to his credit. He is
also a researcher in the tradition of J&K Academy, of Art Culture and
Languages and has written on various aspects of Kashmir history, art and culture
over the long decades of his active life. He is a teacher by profession, a
villager by birth. All this adds up to a perceptive being whose intimations of
the muses are scattered over this slim volume of translations of his poems. At
times the perception gets pithy, at others it lingers in the nostalgia of the
time and space that has suddenly gone out of the reach of all the people
exiled from the valley of their birth and dreams. In the tradition of old peers
but in a new rhythm and language Majboor opens his heart to the swan talking of
the visions snatched. image effaced by vicious hands:
A place for all
to go into a trance
to restore peace in the valley
to secure all aching wounds y
to end grief.
For the first half of the twentieth century. Kashmiri poetry
was dominated by Azad and Mahjoor. The second half began with Dina Math Nadim,
and belonged to him. Nadim bestowed on Kashmiri poetry word, versatility and a
knack for grabbing the pith. Majboor's Waves is dedicated to
Nadim. Nadim also bequeathed to Kashmiri poets a penchant for experimentation.
Majboor is an experimenter in his own right. His Kashmiri poems composed of
short lines form ribbons of undulation, like a long breath. Waves
carries mosaics of words, laid one over the other. Majboor stops short of
fragmenting words a la E.E. Cummings who reaches the pinnacle of experimentation
of form. Probably the Urdu-Persian script imposed upon Kashmiri does not
permit fragmenting words, else it would have been a worth seeing experiment. The
experiments are there upon page after page, with words single, double and
triplets tiered one upon the other, to tease their meanings out. Thus is raised
the Snow-man. This is how the poet stands forlorn in the Wilderness.
I am stranded in wilderness
Read alongside the sketch on the cover of the book, the
picture become quite vivid.
Years ago Sahir sang: duniya ney, tujrubaat-o-hawadis
ki shakl mein/jo kuch diya hai vahi lota raha hoon mein. All that the time
teaches, all that the world imposes, all that the life snatches . . ..all that
becomes the material and motivation of the poet some retain them and rise aloft
with them, others insist upon returning to visit these shambles to draw upon the
life and to taste more of its somber fare.
I melt slowly,
crack up leisurely,
drip because of the sun.
The ache pervades through most of the poems. Worn fantasies
and unfulfilled desires peep through excruciatingly.
Each warm evening
transfix my heart
says the poet in Rootlessness. He ends the
piece with more horrid details
The gaping wound
of broken man's
Talking of chopping, it appears that the original Kashmiri
has suffered much chopping in translation. Since the author has chosen not to
give the Kashmiri version (A pity. because Majboor's diction is evocative, if
nothing else ! ), it is difficult to comment on the veracity of the translation.
Two poems (The Fowl and True City) whose Kashmiri
versions this writer could access are much at variance with the originals.
Again, since the translation has been got printed by the author himself, it is
difficult to say whose is the chopping hand, the poet's, or the translator's ?
Or whose the choice ‘? All the same, in carries the poet's sanction. No
If anything, the Waves underscores the need for
opening up the closed caskets of Kashmiri poetry and bringing the rich
experiments and deep perceptions to a larger audience. Good printing, a fine
get up and half a dozen drawings by Vijay Zutshi make Waves a
delightful presentation. Over its two dozen poems, the poet snatches at the
variegations of life, perchance to catch a lesson, perchance to uncover a
lead, perchance to lift a veil and see through, for according to him, "The
silence of the night and its solitude are a hope for the morning." Another
time, another poet Nadim said, of the same night:
Raat moh-rum, is-ti-ra-bus
op chho shab-num, ky-ah va-nai.
(the night is privy to the travails the dew is a loud mouth,
how'll I tell).
But poets are souls, possessed. Humans much have hopes and
mornings to look up to.