Majboor - A Sandwiched Soul
Dr. Manzoor Fazili
Arjan Dev Majboor’s poems, short stories, anthologies,
research papers, which appeared in various literary journals from time to time
reflect his quest to know and let know his cultural heritage. He is conscious of
his social environment and cultural ethos. The political upsurge and violence in
the Valley forced him to leave Kashmir in 1990. Since then he feels alienated.
He is conscious of separation from his native village and native place. The wise
Kalhan tells us that the people naturally are tendered to nationalism or love of
their birthplace. His belief is that continued residence at a place produces in
the mind of living beings, through the logical process of connection and
exclusion, a sense of belonging to one's own country. Majboor is no exception.
He was born in the valley, lived most of his life within a society known as
Kashmiri social system. He is, as such a part of the society, in which he was
born and brought up.
His book, Waves, translated version of his
Kashmiri poetry by Arvind Gigoo, is thus the reflection of his partitioned
soul. caused by the separation of his native land. If not all, at least most of
the poems included in the collection are a manifestation of his isomeric soul
When the poets soul transcends the world of his past. he
finds his virginity in the chubby face of his childhood, which when his inner
self reacts, finds a defiled future. Thus his heart aches on account of the
disappearance of old values and presently confused Kashmiri. He glorifies his
past and, if not downgrades, but does not reconcile with the present. He says:
Are you my virgin past
Are you my defiled future?
James Reeves is of the opinion that poetry is as rich and
various as life itself; to poets it is life. Majboor is really Majboor
(helpless) when he sees that his glorious past is crumbling before his eyes. He
looks around and finds that the past which had been blessed by the goddess is
decaying now and says:
This wakefulness is dying now.
In his past, he enjoys the association of his native land.
His native land and place of birth are part of his memory and in that past, he
finds value - oriented life. Then his helplessness, in going back even to
his home seems to him bleak and separation agonizing. That is why Majboor
-in a shambles-
is my nightmare.
When he becomes conscious of his nightmare both in response
to his impulse for native place as well as the peace, tranquility and value
system of the times gone by, he shudders:
I recall the gem - like
of the bronze hand.
His dilemma does not stop with anything but his depression on
account of separation from his native village and place. He finds everything
topsy-turvy. When he observes a topsy-turvy tree, he talks to him:
Sir, my roots are in the sky
this way the world will be set right
The political turmoil in his native place has a question mark
for our poet. He is not sure what shall be likely the result of the instability.
He is not sure whether he comes back to his house or not. He does not know
whether he has chance to meet his child companions and school mates. He does not
think that the old women and men, whom he revered during his lifetime in his
native land are alive. He does not know that he will be able to sit on the side
of the Negraed and the like. His apprehensions of devastation of forests and
decay of all the beauties of nature in Kashmir. are a source of agony for him.
Then he suggests that man will be on sale and its roots would not need water
because all will turn use less. In course of upside down position, the flowers
will bloom in the sky. According to the poet, beauty will be auctioned and the
wise will be asleep, ignorance will increase in number and greenery will
disappear. Arjan Dev Majboor, is helpless to tell us:
Even memory will end.
It means that he would find value free society and the
earlier value oriented society will be forgotten.
The poet fords himself converted to a snow man one morning,
leaving struggle behind him. He is thrust into a darkness, where nothing is
seen, heard or observed. They come and tell him to laugh, play and dance and
walk but the poet seems melting. He finally declares:
The tendril under my feet
this invisible shrinkage.
The poet is in agony on account of his separation from his
land. He visualizes "the city", in which a camel ran amok. He wants to
convey to the readers the experience of anarchy and accordingly says,
"there were a thousand masters and hundred thousand rulers". He
further adds that in the city each is to himself. In a value free society of
Kashmir Arjan Dev finds himself sandwiched on being brought up under a
discipline of a value oriented society and placed in a different environment.
The poet leaves the analysis of the Kashmiri to different opinions. He declares
them that they are stubborn and foolish. The same time, he is depressed on
account of its future and thinking that our cultural heritage is high jacking
A cat pounced upon the fowl
had hearty meal.
Arjan Dev, the poet who has the impulse of loving his
cultural heritage, tries to discover hard and essential life within him. The
poet's intention is to show his inner self and consciously or unconsciously, he
has hard realities of life to experience. In response to his sentiment he finds
a "hungry man" in a sinful city, in which all frolic in luxury, but a
lean man, has hunger as a lone companion. He collected many things in his sack
but everything was useless for him. However, the poet has hard talk about it in
the following lines:
he found the Stone
and paused for a thought,
put the Stone into his sack
Our poet asks the modern youth to give meaning to words so
that they idealize them. The reply from the modern man or youth is that the
words are useless and meaningless. The wise words of the past are not cared at
all. There is anarchy - anarchy in the value structure of the society. In
this disappointment. our poet shouts:
Words, I have given you life
come out of the prison afresh;
old cannons don't become you.
Jammu, the land of religiosity, alien to a poet, who lives of
his own is different to time. The poet away from home. seeing his erstwhile
society in anarchy and his native house and place in shambles, cries in
wilderness. In his wilderness he is besieged within a dusty cobweb. The world
maligned him, treating him in a stage of a caravan Then he asks:
peep into me
and listen to the ancient ballad
it is endless.
In the poem Funeral, the poet seems to be
obsessed by disappointments. He admits that the long bright day has entered into
the black night. While expressing all the frustrations, deprivations, aimless
life and hazy goals, he seems to fall like a mystic into the dark night of the
soul. However, he boldly and courageously restores himself and advises us to
struggle in life saying:
Use the plectrum
In spite of
Possibly 'no reviewer can ever forget to critically
appreciate his great poem To The Swan, which reveals in its
totality the septum of his soul. The poem reveals like a mystic, that a dark
night has fallen on the should of the poet. It indicates to the partition of his
soul as it asks the swan to fly over the mountains with a message to his native
land, the valley of Kashmir. He opens his heart to a swan, brain washing him by
his own washing him by his own memories of the past. He recollects his
"heavenly green spot" to show his own "scarred hush of my
being". Then our poet says to swan:
Please fly on to the world that belonged to the poet or his
native land. He directs him to fly over the Peer Panjal and find the place which
was source of his light. He cautions him about the blinding fog and clouds (i.e.
the turmoil in the valley) to find the right path. The poet does not want the
swan to fall in love with the damsel of the forest or the valley of Kashmir.
He wants the poet to pick up the essence or substance of the
flower that is Kashmir. Love its jungles, its history and culture and kiss the
milky snow. Return with the wonder that is Kashmir. The poet tells him to rest
near a spring, enjoy the airy bridges and to sit under shade of trees, move
through the c r, ices and the rivulets. The poet is likely to bless the bird
This haste promises a light
for the task is sublime.
Next the poet gives a direction to the swan that the latter
shin up a fir tree and relax in the holidays. He thinks that the wind in Kashmir
will give him peace and bliss. The poet wants that the swan enjoys the juicy
fruits and beans the symphony of the trees in the forest. Then he tells the
let your mind swim
in the icy water.
In case the bird feels tired, it can rest on hay on a hill
top. The poet desires the swan to spread his wings so that he reaches back his
‘old paths'. Knowing well the natural beauty of the valley, the poet is
optimistic regarding the bliss that might be available to the bird. From
distance the poet predicts that they will say:
that is a tiny bird
on the wing
a morning lotus in the lake.
The poet advises the swan to visit the valley so that he is
enchanted by the lush greenery. He wants to convey that every tune has a
meaning. He is conscious that the goal is distant but good time is coming. The
poet wants that the swan conveys to the cliffs in the land that they were
sometime glistening with splendour. It had a glorious past and Kashmir was ruled
by wisdom. According to him the wisdom flourished in the valley. The poet is
conscious that time ‘flies fast' and accordingly directs the bird to catch it
by the forelock.
The partitioned soul of the poet is subject to agony on
account of his past, sometimes in pain to recollect the natural beauty of
Kashmir. Sometimes he is disappointed and frustrated on account of his
separation from the native land. Then sometimes he continues that the colours or
hues need not benumb anybody's sense. He, afterwards, directs the bird to gather
the herbs and cure ones self. He would like that pricking thistles need to be
burnt. Arjan Dev consoles himself with the idea of adventure of snow clad
mountains and bid farewell to the fear, so that one can reach the goal. Alas! he
himself was afraid and ran away in 1990. He encourages the swan to fly over the
green fields. He wants to change the situation so that the landscape will
recount a new and fresh tale. He wants the bird to unveil the mystery so that
darkness is replaced by light.
The poet recollects his childhood and glorifies it and is
proud of enjoying sunny days, night's peace, love and peace of the earlier
times. But according to the poet one must muster courage so that one can go
ahead. He continues to fight them because life is not a bed of roses and then
conveys them after the wise:
Time is holy, use it well
The poet desires to decipher the words so that tomorrow turns
to be safer than the present which is in liquid state. He predicts that dark
clouds or turmoil will flee and reconstruction shall take place. Like the German
wall, the walls between communities shall crumble down and spread love over the
hamlets and villages. In due course of time, according to the poet, turmoil
shall be replaced by peace.
The poet has the belief to separate truth from the untruth.
He thinks that in our society there are still people of conscience and
integrity who can change it for better future. There are infinite blooms and
green patches and the poet asks the bird to get him sweet water. Afterwards,
poet again gets nostalgic regarding his native land by saying that in past
kings, courtiers and travellers drank in the land., saints counted beads,
hermits meditated and turned into trance. Thus he implores the powerful to
restore peace in the valley, to cure all aching wounds and to end grief.
The poet at the end of the poem recollects the past history
of his native land by talking about the "seven springs" only to know
that renunciation is a reality. The waters. boulders and the tales of Nagas are
recollected and he says:
Piety will swill stones
the soul of the valley is pure.
He remembers the ancient ruins, which are asleep and wants
that they be awakened to retell the tale of pleasurable past. He aches and pains
to recall his past and wants to revive the old Kashmiri to find a saint in
prayer, lioness in rage, cataracts flowing and a stag capering in a deep canyon.
The poet revives the memory of the old days at the green spot on the river bank,
springs, uplands with flowers, cool shadows. which create much agony in him that
Fetch me a swig of water
I am parched.
Thus the soul of the poet tumults in such a manner that he
turns Majboor (helpless) and is sandwiched between the love of his native land
and its separation. He aches, has agonies and woes that his personality is
shattered. We find the soul of the poet in septum yet we are helpless. It is
shared out between value free and value oriented society. Thus Arjan Dev turns
to be poetic in the poetry of his inner self.