Premi is no more with us today, which is a painful thing for he was a writer of
tremendous potential and, at the same time, a man of solid achievement. Death
snatched him away from us in the year 1990 when he was 55 years old. A dear
friend and colleague of mine in the University of Kashmir, I held him in esteem
for his wonderful qualities of head and heart. Human and affectionate to the
core, he always kept his cool and spoke words of wisdom as a man of learning
whenever the occasion demanded. Temperamentally, he shied away from publicity
and was a man of few words. Through my occasional conversations with him I found
him widely read and very knowledgeable. He was indeed a gentle colossus-judging
him on the basis of his literary achievement and the manuscripts he actually
left behind unpublished.
Dr. Brij Premi shot into prominence and
became a celebrity in the Urdu literary world across the Indian subcontinent
with the publication of his outstanding book on Sadat Hasan Manto, based on his
doctoral thesis on the eminent writer. The volume has been hailed as a
land-mark-acclaimed as the best piece of critical writing on the creative work
of Manto as a writer of short stories in Urdu.
Dr. Premi Romani has performed the duty of
a proud son in bringing out the memorial volume titled "Brij Premi
Shaksiyat Aur Fun" that includes numerous critical essays contributed by
a host of scholars on Dr. Premi and his work. For accomplishing such a task, he
has won accolades from his father's friends, fellow-writers and admirers.
Another volume titled "Varaasat" includes, Dr. Premi's two short
stories in Kashmiri, three Kashmiri prose essays, his Kashmiri translations of
some of Manto's short stories and eight critical estimates of Premi's Kashmir
volume “Vechnai” contributed by celebrated Kashmir writers
including Akhtar Mohi-ud-Din, Amin Kamil, Moti Lal Saqi and others. For bringing
out this volume too, Dr. Romani has been highly praised and felicited by many
scholars and writers. On going through the two volumes, I got convinced that Dr.
Brij Premi will continue to be remembered as an outstanding scholar of Urdu who
would have scaled still further heights if he hadn't died prematurely.
It needs to be mentioned here that Dr.
Brij Premi came up as a scholar and writer the hardway. He had to face economic
hardships in pursing his educational career. It was long after he secured a
first class in M.A. (Urdu) that equipped additionally with a doctoral degree he
began his teaching career at an advanced level in the Urdu department of the
University of Kashmir. Judging by what Dr. Brij Premi achieved as a writer while
he lived and the writings he actually left behind unpublished, there is no doubt
that his contribution to scholarship, research and creative writing has been
formidable and memorable. So does his son, Dr Premi Romani, deserve kudos for
what he has done to glorify the memory of his noble and talented father.
Finally, on going through some of Dr.
Premi's writings in Urdu and Kashmiri, I realized what a valuable service he has
rendered in writing on Urdu writers in Kashmiri and on Kashmiri writers in
Urdu—achieving thereby a cross-fertilization in the realm of letters. I have
also been impressed by the flow of his writing in Urdu as well as Kashmiri-I
mean the effortless ease with which he writes. And this quality is matched by
the lucidity of his style. His use of Kashmiri is specially impressive in as
much as he writes with natural ease and keeps to the common Kashmiri idiom, not
burdening his writing with words borrowed from Urdu or Persian. I greatly
enjoyed reading his Urdu piece, “Main Yahan Rahtaa Huun”. It chows
how rooted he is in the Valley of
Kashmir, his homeland, and how proud he feels of his rich cultural heritage as a
Kashmiri. The other piece that I would like to mention here is "Vada Yus
Na Poora Gav". It is a reflective piece of writing that shows Dr. Brij
Premi's skill in handling Kashmir
prose. Writing the present note has sharpened my desire and curiosity to read
more and more of the beloved writer and friend I had the privilege of having as
my colleague at the University
of Kashmir during more than a decade of the last century.