Majboor as a Kashmiri poet
Prof. R.N. Kaul
is a collection of twenty four poems - some
short and some long - originally written in Kashmiri by Arjan Dev Majboor
and translated into English by Arvind Gigoo. The short number represents a broad
spectrum across whose prismic surface Majboor's imagination soars catching in
its sweep many impressions from his inner and outer life. These reflect not only
his subjective reactions but also reflect, as if in a mirror. the feelings and
thoughts of an exiled community.
The present reviewer has no pretensions to be well-versed
in Kashmiri literature and its rich and noble language yet Majboor' s poems have
impressed him to the extent of provoking him to attempt their review. It is
like fools rushing in where angels fear to tread. Yet the attempt is worthwhile.
After reading the translations and some of the originals I
cannot help feeling that they do not lack a genuine poetic genius. I n fact it
is the intelligent translations done by Arvind Gigoo and their artificial
patterns that give these poems a true poetic garb.
These thoughts apart, as generally happens in poems
composed for Mashairas, the milieu is provided by what is taking place at
present socially and politically around the poet. Hence it is that brought up a
leftist and an idealist in search of a utopia, Majboor mourns the loss of values
and makes his poetic outbursts as vehicles of his deep felt sympathy for the
suffering humanity especially those uprooted from their homes by fanatics who
have resorted to murders, arson and rape and what is generally known as
militancy in the J&K state. The poem The Topsy - Turvy Tree
poignantly brings out what a distorted and barren picture the earth will be due
to the irrational behaviour of the homo sapiens. The tree has chosen to have its
roots in the sky.
The earth will turn into a blazing inferno
the eagles will not fly
it will rain acid.
Urban civilization will go amok. Such is the theme of the
poem The City. Freedom has only brought ‘frantic blindness'. The
poem The Hungry Man gives a pathetic picture of a starving man:
A lean man
with a sack
was searching his fate
hunger was his lone companion.
The poem Prison presents, in sustained but
restrained rhythm of irony, the state of affairs in temporary tent shelters
improvised for Kashmiri migrants at a stone's throw from the state jail where
militants are luxuriously housed, fed and entertained. Victims to the scorching
sun and flooding rains, saving their lives with the skin of their teeth from
scorpions and snakes to the Kashmiri Pandits verily the camp is a jail whereas
the real jail is a heaven:
There is a crematorium by the prison
The prisoners smile.
In most of Majboor's poems the style and technique are
impressionistic. A feeling. a thought floats across the canvas of his
imagination and he makes an attempt to clothe it in ‘chiseled words'. Though
there are flashes of genius, the technique of Mushaira dialogue form changes
good poetry into what becomes banal and even prosaic. For example, the dialogue
between the poet and the tree recalls at once the echoes of a typical Kashmiri
poetic symposium. Writes Majboor in the poem The Fowl:
‘Wonderful, the fowl has two legs
‘No, the fowl has four legs
Some poems in the selection are inspired by imagination,
nostalgia though to a slight extent maudlin. To the Swan is a case
in point. This poem should touch the sensitive chords of each migrant's heart.
Adam and Eve were thrown out of Eden for eating the forbidden fruit. Kashmiri
Pandits became targets for their religious creed. Driven out by fanatical
hordes called militants they have been living miserable lives for over a decade
now. Majboor though a leftist cannot help responding to the sufferings of his
brethren. He asks his soul to seek the beautiful spots in the valley and report
back his findings. This may give him a vicarious relief. He addresses the swan:
If you get tired
rest on the golden hay
on a hill top
dye yourself in the jungle light
the ripples will play
among the boulders.
The collection has poems rich in imagery and a vocabulary
which is rich in sensuousness. No poet can escape being impressed by the appeal
Nature's beauty in Kashmir makes to the senses. The valley's musical brooks,
fragrant blossoms and flowers, warm and cool sensations, and juicy fruitage and
landscapes, cloudscapes, treescapes and waterscapes are in lavish abandon
everywhere. Hence Majboor will talk of bubbling brooks, of pastures breathing
out scents (as Kahlil Gibran records in The Prophet), of snowflakes coming
down like silver coins, of mountains sleeping under covers of chaste snow.
Though some poems fail to evoke interest because of their obscurity, yet it is
poet's rich sensuous appeal that makes amends.
The book is a worthwhile possession and, as such, an
addition to the rich cultural heritage of Kashmir.