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Remembering a friend and former colleague

by A.N. Dhar

Dr. Brij 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a gentle colossus-judging him on the basis of his literary achievement and the manuscripts he actually left behind unpublished.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.

Source: Kashmir Sentinel

  

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