Majboor as a Short Story Writer
By Dr. Romesh Kumar
Focus on Majboor as a poet has led the literary critics overlook
his contributions as a serious short story writer.
In his early literary career Mabjoor's twenty
short stories were published in "Jyoti",
an Urdu monthly edited by Late Ganga Dhar
Dehati. These stories received good appreciation.
His Koleh Guran (small fish of a
stream) was widely acclaimed.
(cleansing the stream for paddy sowing) and
'Sona Wuddar' (Golden Karewa) were
published in Kwong-Posh, a literary
journal brought out by Cultural Congress in
early 1950s. 'Kolehwaan' focused on the
hard life of a peasant in village. Rahim is the
protagonist in the story. 'Sonawudar'
is based on the description of beauty of
nature. Due to displacement and subsequent burning
of his house his books and papers too were
destroyed. Majboor does not have today even a copy
of his short stories written for 'Jyoti'
Despite his success in the art of short story writing Majboor
switched over to poetry and prose-writing. When
asked about this shift Majboor frankly admits: "I
myself don't know why I left writing short story".
Exile brings out the best in a writer. There is strong motivation,
an urge to communicate exile and its different
facets - to satisfy the inner pangs and also to
create a movement for reversal of exile. This
makes a writer try varied genres of literature to
bring out his feelings. After having bid goodbye
to short story writing four decades back, Majboor
started experimenting with short story again to
weave real life incidents during the past 17 years
of displacement into literature. His stories which
treat exile as its theme include-'Gashe
Zech'; (a ray of light), 'Haras-ti-Korun
Wandeh' (The Ashad (May/June) month too
has turned into Winter), 'Tri-Buj'
(Triangle), 'Gatakhar' (The Storm) etc.
Some of these stories have been translated into
Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam and Hindi. 'Gashe
Zech' (A Ray of Light).
Originally, this story was written in Kashmiri. Its Hindi version,
translated by the author himself, was published in
'Samkalin Bhartiya'. An incident which
involved a cop and took place in Bijbehara has
been fictionalised in this story. The cop Som Nath
who had stayed back in 1990 alongwith his family
is kidnapped by militants. He is kept hostage in a
cowshed and is brought daily to the Kangaroo court
of militants to confess a 'crime' he never
committed. He is asked to accept the charge that
he was a 'Mukhbir' (an informer for the
government). Som Nath refuses to endorse the lie.
He is abused, thrashed, his body is tortured with
burning cigarette butts. The cop after undergoing
this torture experiences hallucinations of more
brutal torture being in store for him before he
would be finally eliminated.
An old Muslim lady in whose house Som Nath was kept captive and
tortured, used to serve him food in morning and
evening. As torture increases Som Nath narrates
his tale of woe to the old lady. He tells her that
in case he was unable to reach home, his family -
wife and two sons would not able to withstand the
bad news. The lady is moved by his condition, his
feelings and innocence. She is convinced that the
cop is being held captive for no reason. The lady
has a way out for his freedom. She tells him that
during the day, when the militants would be out
she would prepare 'Tehar' (Turmeric laced rice)
and call neighbourhood children to the compound to
receive 'Tabruk'. This would give enough
time to Som Nath to break the rear window of the
house and flee. The cop accepts her suggestion and
jumps to freedom. He reaches the police station,
where he is posted. He takes a van, collects his
family and reaches
Hars Tih Korun Wandeh:
This story is based on an incident supposed to have taken place
during rapacious Pathan rule. Jabbar Khan was
Governor of Kashmir and quite intolerant to
Kashmiri Pandits. One year he forebade Pandits to
celebrate Shivratri on the due date in winter.
Snowfall used to take place on the day of
Shivratri, this phenomenon was considered
auspicious. That year Pandits celebrated Shivratri
in Har (Jun/July). It snowed on that day. Kashmiri
people reacted by saying, "Wuchtone Yi
Jabbar Jandeh, Haras Tih Korun Wandeh'
(See the wretched Jabbar. Even the hot summer has
turned into cold winter).
The author has used this metaphor to convey the plight of a
displaced old Pandit lady in
Jammu who gets psychologically fixated to
winter. The story was originally published in
Kashmiri in Sheeraza. It runs like this -
A young lady visits her close relation, who has recently migrated
Kashmir. It is month of June. The displaced old lady
is sick and confined to bed. Her daughter-in-law
offers her a glass of cold water. The old lady
reacts hysterically, "Oh! Have you gone mad? You
are offering me cold water when it is snowing
outside". Though she is in
Jammu, yet she is fixated to winter season when
The old lady travels back in time and narrates events about her
marriage and other incidents when she was young.
She asks her daughter-in-law to go up the 2nd
storey to fetch her white woollen pheron so
that she could beat the cold. Then she experiences
an auditory hallucination in which a fisherman
appears. The old lady asks her daughter-in-law to
call him for purchasing fish against a big bag of
paddy. The lady also experiences desire to prepare
fish herself. The daughter-in-law is asked to
fetch wood from the third storey of the house. The
old lady's reaction to the noise of matadors
moving outside is: 'Why these buses are coming
close to our house though it is one km. away from
the main road'.
Meanwhile, her son enters the room. She tells him," Oh! You must be
tired walking 10 kms distance from your school in
the snowfall. You dust off snow from your
blanket". The lady orders the daughter-in-law to
prepare for him maize bread and salt tea.
The son feels sad not on account of her psychological condition but
on his inability to find out an alternate rented
accommodation. The landlord had already sounded
him that since his mother was on death bed he
could not allow the relations of the rented family
to mourn in case of old lady's death.
This story is based on an event which is supposed to have taken
Village, 5 kms from Zainapora (author's village).
The story, originally written in Kashmiri, has
been translated into Hindi and Telugu. The writer
has tried to correlate a routine event in the
daily life of Kashmiri Pandits with actual
displacement. The forced displacement is described
as Gatrakar, the storm.
A fisherman Aziz used to visit on eve of Shivratri a village
inhabited by Pandits. Since cooking of fish is
part of Reet (Customary ritual) on
Shivratri, due to heavy demand the Pandits would
remain unsure whether they would be able to get
fish. Aziz tells a customer that since he was his
permanent customer he would ensure at any cost to
make fish available to him on the occasion.
However, he fails to turn up. The customer
subsequently comes to know from a Pandit
shopkeeper in the nearby village that Aziz was
dead. The fisherman had failed to get a good catch
due to snowfall. With his catch of one kg he
purchased salt, tea and tobacco from the Pandit
shopkeeper and left for his village in the
evening. His village was perched on a hill. The
fisherman had to cover a distance of 5 kms over
snow to reach his village. When he reaches the
Karewa the snowfall turns heavy darkness also sets
in. Aziz loses his way. He gets worried how his
four unmarried daughters would take the news if
something bad happened to him. The fisherman lands
in a pyritherium Farm covered with a blanket of
snow. He is numb with cold and leans against a
mulberry tree. The following morning snowfall
stops and gradually the sun comes out. The
villagers find Aziz dead. The sad news is conveyed
to his daughters.
Some days later the situation in
Kashmir starts deteriorating for the worse. The
author seems to convey that the storm which
consumed Aziz had symbolism attached to it. It was
first time the Pandits could not get fish on the
day of Shivratri. It was an indication that stormy
days were ahead for Pandits. The news about
selective killings of Pandits in city reaches
villages also. The exodus begins.
This story originally written in Hindi is based on authorís
personal experience. During the early years of
displacement Majboor lived in Udhampur. He used to
go for strolls on the main
Jammu-Srinagar National Highway.
He would feel happy and nostalgic on seeing buses
coming from Srinagar. The story revolves round a
Pandit refugee, living in Battal Ballian refugee
camp at Udhampur. The refugee belongs to Zainapora
(Majboor's village) in Kashmir. He has come to the
town, Udhampur and is standing at a point where
three roads lead to Srinagar, Jammu and Udhampur (Tribuj).
When his eyes turn towards the road leading to
Kashmir he in his fancy reaches his village
Zainapur. The day is Navreh amavasya.
A fair was on in the village. The sweetsellers,
the toy sellers and others had thronged to the
village to sell their goods. The village ladies -
Hindus and Muslims had been buying bangles, Kajal,
cosmetics etc. The Battal Ballian refugee is
pained to see his burnt house. He narrates to the
guests, relations and the family the history of
Varanag spring, connected with fair.
Suddenly, the noise of a truck distracts his
attention. He feels remorse and recalls how
displacement has disintegrated his whole clan. The
Pandit refugee is lost in his thoughts. He thinks
about Zainapur, his relations, the ravages of
displacement etc. As evening approaches, he feels
it was time to reach the camp. He had come to the
town to fetch medicines for his wife. When he puts
his hand in the pocket there is just one rupee,
the ten rupees had got misplaced somewhere.
Feeling quite hungry one rupee would not help him
to buy even a cup of tea, what to talk of
medicines. It is 8 PM. He catches the last matador
for Battal Ballian.
'So Booney' (The Chinar):
Originally written in Kashmiri and published in Sheeraza the story
is set in Bijbehara. It has recently been
translated into english by Sh. Upinder Ambardar.