Friday, 21 October 2011

Book Review - #English- #Painting & #Theatre in #Kashmir



Painting and Theatre in Kashmir-Suraj Tiku’s Journey: Dr Ramesh Tamiri 

Reviewed by: Deepak Budki

Painting and Theatre in Jammu and Kashmir have kept pace with other parts of the country though political instability in the region has always cast its shadow on their proper development. Dr Ramesh Tamiri has done a great service to the modern cultural history of Kashmir by writing the book ‘Painting and theatre in Kashmir – Suraj Tiku’s Journey’ which not only records the life and works of the great artist and set designer but also gives a detailed account of the evolution of these genres in the valley.


Kashmir school of painting , as per the author, finds mention in Nilmat Purana in as early as 6th century and by Marco Polo in 14th century. It distinctly bore the influence of the Gandharan and Gupta art. After lull for some time in the medieval period, Kashmiri artists found patronage in Akbar’s court. The Kashmir Miniature School of painting, characterised by lack of interest in portraiture and use of wide range of colours, produced great masters like Tota Ram Naqqash and his descendents. Nineteenth century found a flow of foreign artists and writers into the valley and rediscoverd the importance of portraiture in paintings. Establishment of Sir Amar Singh Technical Institute in 1913 proved a great boon for art and theatre in Kashmir. 

Suraj Tiku (1927 - 1997)
Great Masters like Kampassi, JN mattoo, JN Sapru, SN Raina, M Raina, DN Wali, Manohar Kaul were a product of this institute. Ratan Parimoo, SN Bhat, Trilok Kaul, and PN Kachru, influenced by SH Raza and Percy Brown, later joined these artists followed by Bansi Parimu, GR Santosh, Kashmiri Khosa , Kishori Koul, Mohiuddin, NK Zadoo, RK Sadhu , KN Fotedar and Sculptors like BK Sultan, Gayoor Hassan, Shabir Mirza, Shaiqa Mohi, Rajinder Tiku and Mir Imtiyaz. The author has also included number of photographs of these eminent artists from the valley.


Tracing back the history to Raas Leelas and Ram Leelas, the Kashmiri theatre was later influenced by the Parsi theatre in the 19th century though in the intervening period the rise of Hafizas (Nautch girls) and Bhands also finds mention. Amateur Dramatic Club pioneered the establishment of regular theatre in Kashmir followed by a caravan of theatres like Saraswati Dramatic Club, Kashmir Theatrical Company, Natak Vibhag, Karod Tirath Dramatic Club, Kala Kendra etc. The author has also mentioned the establishment of National Cultural Front, Moti Lal Kemmu’s revival of professionalism in Bhand Paether, contribution of National School of Drama and evolution of playwright techniques in the valley.

In the chapter entitled ‘Kashi Nath Bhan-Suraj Tiku’s Guru’, the author has paid great tribute to the eminent painter, actor, director, teacher and social activist, Kashi Nath Bhan. He has reconstructed the life and works of this great artist by interviewing a number of people who knew him closely since most of the works of Bhan had been destroyed during militancy in Kashmir. The life of KN Bhan is a saga of strife and endeavour. He was the pioneer of art and theatre in Kashmir and left a great legacy behind him. Bhan’s encounters with eminent national artistes like Prithvi Raj Kapoor are also recorded which throw light on his character, vision and resolve. 

Part two and three of the book deals with the evolution of Suraj Tiku as a master painter and a creative set designer.The life of Tiku is full of strife. He obtained Diploma in Fine Arts from Sir Amar Singh Technical Institute, worked initially as a teacher in a Government school and later in the Songs and Drama Division, J&K State. He learnt painting and theatre from his guru, KN Bhan. He had a passion for painting landscape of Kashmir which he continued even after migrating from Kashmir valley in 1990 on accounts of militancy. 

Nevertheless, he excelled in Portraiture and Miniature paintings too. His contribution to set designing and theatre was unparalleled. He was known for his sense of humour and philanthropy. He breathed his last on 26 January 1997 in exile, exasperated by heavy smoking and consequent asthma. The author has included a large number of photos which give a glimpse of the life and works of Suraj Tiku. In the last chapter the author has thrown light on various members of Tiku clan, past and present ,who have significantly contributed to the art and theatre movement in Kashmir.

It may not be out of place to say that given the post-migration scenario in which the book has been written, Dr Tamiri has produced a gem of a book which will have a referral value for generations to come. The language used is simple and without unwanted cliche and technical jargon. The choice of photographs and paintings adds to the value of the book as a document tracing the evolution of art and theatre in Kashmir.

Price: Rs. 650 (Hard cover) & Rs.300 (Paper back)

Publisher: Suraj Foundation, 245, Amar Colony Extension,Gol Gujral, Talab Tillu,Jammu - 180002  



Contact details: surajfoundation@yahoo.com,  (M) +91-9419114691

Sunday, 16 October 2011

An Open Letter To Prashant Bhushan #Kashmir

An Open Letter To Prashant Bhushan                             #Kashmir

Dear Shri Bhushan,
At the very outset let me introduce myself.I am neither a rightist nor a leftist, nor even a centrist. I am just one out of one hundred and twenty crores of Indians, and I belong to Kashmir. I am the original inhabitant of Kashmir with history dating back to five thousand years which is older than Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Over a period of last seven centuries I have been reduced to a minuscule  minority of not more than five lakh souls due to repeated invasions, proselytizing and persecution. However, I rejoiced the day my country was declared independent in 1947 though I remained in a state of fix because my brothers and sisters in Baramulla were facing genocide and rapine till such time Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir finally decided to accede to India. From that day onwards I preferred to exist without complaint in a state of continuous deprivation and denial.The only solace for me was that I lived in my own homeland and country.

But your recent statement pained me immensely. I had heard similar things earlier from a few more self styled activists like Arundathi Roy who has taken upon herself the burden of the nation just because she has written a book in English which has won her acclaim.Had she written the same in any other language she would not be known even beyond her street for you know the fate of other writers in India. Incidentally I have written seven books in Urdu till date. Your statement came as a bolt from the blue because I had pinned many a hope upon the Anna team since I regard Anna as the saviour of the  country in ;modern times.

May I again emphasise that I am the original inhabitant of Kashmir which has a hindu tradition of five thousand years. Not only that, Jammu and Kashmir is not inhabited by only Kashmiri Muslims but by Dogras, Sikhs, Budhists and Christians as well. Even among Kashmiri Muslims there are differnt sects and schisms such as sunnis and shias, gujjars, Kargil and Ladakh muslims who do not see eye to eye with each other. When you talk of Plebiscite as the ultimate resolution of Kashmir problem you seem to ignore these facts.The Plebiscite carries certain obligations on the part of all the parties involved viz India, Pakistan and the State of Jammu and Kashmir. You may be aware of Pakistan having annexed parts of erstwhile J&K State like Gilgit, Skardu, Hunza, Nagar and Baltistan with mainland Pakistan and having ceded a part of the state to China for strategic purposes to encircle India. Whatever was left was assigned the nomenclature of Azad Kashmir by Pakistan which ironically never enjoyed freedom and democracy in the past six decades as opposed to the Jammu and Kashmir State, a part of India, where liberty, equality and freedom of worship is enjoyed by all the citizens. The original idea of plebiscite was that it was required to be undertaken on return of normalcy in in whole of J&K state without any attempt of ethnic cleansing in any part. Is this practicable now when whole of Pakistan occupied Kashmir has been homogenised  by the Pakistan government and no hindu, sikh or budhist can be seen in the entire Pakistan occupied Kashmir so much so they carried out this ethnic cleansing in Kashmir valley across the LOC by sponsoring terrorism in the valley.

I would perhaps still agree with you if I could understand the basis of such an opinion. Kashmiri separatist leaders have been asserting all through that they are muslims and would like to be part of a Muslim State called Pakistan or form a separate state with Islam as the state religion. That would mean that we accept the two nation theory once again in the same manner as we accepted in 1947 by default though our leaders have been continuously denying the same notwithstanding the creation of Islamic state of Pakistan. In the event we accept this secession of part of our country what prevents other inimical forces to gain strength and seek independence for states like Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Nagaland, Assam, Mizoram, Manipur, Arunachal and Sikkim.Would this situation be acceptable to you to witness this country get fragmented into small innumerable states just because we could not administer them properly and that people like you and Roy lived in posh glass houses with security given at our nation's expense.

May I further ask you whether Pakistan would also hold such a plebiscite in Sindh, Bulochistan and NWFP? I have not noticed you or Arundhati Roy taking any steps or doing anything substantial to coerce China to hold plebiscite in Tibet or grant independence to them. What action did you take when Sri Lankan Tamils were massacred and butchered by the Sri Lankan Army  recently? You and Arundhati Roy could at least have gone to Colombo, courted arrest and gone on indefinite fast to stop the army of Sri Lanka to conduct such a heinous massacre. But you would not do that because no body would care for you. More so they would have annhilated you in no time. Here in India you can get recognition and big name by speaking such things and posing as pseudo human rights activists and our mass media would give you maximum coverage because they increase their market share by such methods.

I understand your love for human rights and sympathise with you. May I know how many Kashmiri Pandit refugee camps did you visit after their exodus in 1990. How much financial help did you render to them from your personal wealth. How many Kashmiri Pandit refugees did you lodge in your house till they could find some accommodation on their own? If you have not done any of these it does not behove you to talk of human rights and human suffering.

Needless to remind you that USA and European nations, after realising what wrong they had done to the Jews in the past, atoned for it and re-established them in Israel by creating a separate home land for them notwithstanding the opposition from the middle east countries and the whole Islamic bloc. On the contrary, you are keen that Kashmir should secede from India and the Kashmiri Pandits should be deprived of their home land and not allowed to return as also perish in due course of time. I only wish good sense prevails upon you and people like you because parasites grow only at the expense of other's.

With regards,
Yours sincerely, 
Deepak Budki.

Friday, 7 October 2011

#Kashmiri Surnames - #Nehru & #Budki







                 Kashmiri Surnames : NEHRU  &  BUDKI





deepak budki
31st December 2009
There is a misconception that 'Nehru' surname in Kashmiri Pandits has been drawn from Nehar, a canal..There is no evidence to show that Nehrus lived by the side of a canal and therefore were called Nehrus, Can any one name the Canal that Nehrus lived near to. Infact in Kashmiri the surname is actually NOUR (singular) or NAER (plural) which means Duct or Drain for carrying of waste water.Hence, the common belief that Nehrus got the surname because they lived by the side of a canal is misconceived.




Deepak Kumar Budki
18th May 2009
The surname 'Budki' does not mean 'Burki'  but as per folk lore 'Budk'i word was used for gold coins in ancient time in Kashmir and somebody had found these coins hidden under the soil which had been uncovered at the time of rebuilding of the ancestoral house. Needless to mention that in olden days such a practice was prevalent in absence of the banks. As a result people started calling the household as 'Budkiwallahs' which later got metamorphosed into 'Budki'.




deepak budki (delhi)
6th April 2009
It has appeared in wikipaedia that 'Budki' surname is essentially a derivative of 'Burki' which has not been substantiated by factual data.Infact Budkis were the gold coins which had been found in the house of our ancestors while rebuilding the house. Eversince the nickname 'Budkiwallahs' and later 'Budkis' came into existence. There are hardly a few households by this name, 5 in Jammu,1 in Mumbai, 2 in Varanasi and 2 in Delhi at present.

Dr Brij Premi - A Tireless Scholar #English #Urdu Writer from #Kashmir

                                                         


Brij Premi - A Tireless Scholar

                     By Deepak Budki





                                            


Urdu literature is indeed indebted  to writers like Mir, Ghalib, Iqbal, Prem Chand, Mantoo and Bedi for their creative and original writings but one cannot undermine the contributions of critics and research scholars like Altaf  Hussain Hali, Ehtesham Hussain, Aal-e-Ahmed Suroor, Qamar Rais and the like for exploring the worlds of these writers in depth and preparing the common mind to appreciate them. One such scholar is Dr Brij Premi who despite meagre resources at his disposal explored the intricate world of Manto, a doyen of Urdu fiction. In fact, it took Premi almost a decade to collect data about Saadat Hassan Manto from different  parts of the Sub-continent where Manto had either stayed  for a short time or lived for a longer duration, especially  from across the border i.e. Pakistan where Manto had ultimately migrated  at the time of partition never to return to the land he loved the most, viz Bombay, now rechristened  as Mumbai.  Brij Premi set out to explore the virgin world of Manto at a time when Urdu, Iqbal and Manto had become an anathema in India. The boldness, promiscuity and notoriety attached to Manto, the D H Lawrence of Urdu Literature, had invited the ire of self-styled purists in both India and Pakistan.
Brij Krishen Aima was born in a lower-middle-class family in Kashmir Valley. He lost his father at an early age and had to support his family when he was just fourteen. He joined the Boy-service in the State Dept. of Education after giving up his education. As a teacher, he suffered as a result of transfers from one village to another. His first pay packet was a meagre sum of thirty rupees. Under such circumstances, it was but natural that he should join the bandwagon of Progressive writers who were very active at that time.
His first short story “Aqa” (The Master) was published in ‘the Amarjyoti’, Srinagar. Thereafter his stories appeared one after the other in a number of newspapers and magazines within and without the state of Jammu and Kashmir. He adopted the pen name of ‘Brij Premi’ and established himself as a short story writer in the valley. He writes about himself,  "My literary life as a short-story writer started in the middle of twentieth century. More often than not I used to pour out the pain and anguish of my soul into my stories. Even now whenever my inner agony makes me restless, a story is born. In fact, short-story writing is my first love (Harfe Justajoo)."
Brij Premi’s inner world was no different from the outer world in which he was constrained to live. The peasants, the labourers and the artisans of Kashmir were continuously being exploited by landlords and the capitalists, and consequently rendered poor, starved and penniless. The sub-human conditions in which his brethren lived haunted him day and night and hence he used his pen to depict their plight. He drew inspiration from  Prem Nath Pardesi, another progressive writer who was popularly known as ‘the Prem Chand of Kashmir’. Apart from Pardesi, Brij Premi was influenced by the great romanticist, Krishen Chander, who had an emotional attachment with J&K State and used to describe its natural beauty in the mesmerising  narrative in his short-stories. Ahmad Nadeem Qasmi too had influenced Brij Premi’s style to some extent. Notwithstanding, the writer who most influenced Brij Premi in his later life was the bespectacled, Liquor–addict workhorse known as Saadat Hassan Manto. The latter had such an impact on his mind that he devoted his rest of life to undertake extensive research on Manto. Premi not only wrote ‘Saadat Hassan Manto-Life and works’ and ‘Manto Katha’ but also conducted research on several writers of J&K State besides other historical and literary topics. Alas, the cruel jaws of death snatched him away at a time when he was at his productive best.
While talking of Brij Premi I must acknowledge the dedication and devotion of his worthy son Dr Premi Romani towards his illustrious father.  I came to know Dr.Brij Premi through his son only when I was beginning to enter the ‘Make believe world of Literature’ from that of ‘Matter of the fact world of Science’. Romani having noticed my flair for calligraphy asked me to write the final copies of his father’s thesis. We used to sit till late in the night in his house at  Ali Kadal, Brij Premi used to give the corrected copy of his thesis which I used to write legibly. However, I could not keep my promise to the end due to some personal compulsions and wrote about sixty percent of the thesis only. Later Romani himself completed the rest. However, at the end, I  decorated the thesis by drawing caricatures of Manto at the beginning of each chapter.  My joy knew no bounds when only after 2-3 months I came to know that Brij Premi had been awarded the Doctorate by the Univesity of Kashmir. Having come to know Brij Premi so closely, I found him an unassuming, soft-spoken and a thorough gentleman who had devoted a lifetime to Urdu literature and   Kashmir History. He would not, however, display his knowledge by talking about it everywhere which was a distinct sign of his humility. He was simple in his lifestyle, coy and modest and showed no signs of promiscuousness commonly attributed to the poets and prose writers.
Abdul  Ghani Sheikh writes about Dr Brij Premi, “Krishen Chander and Manto have a vivid influence on the thought and style of Premi. His choice of words and felicity of his diction are superlative”. I do not, however, entirely agree with AG Sheikh. It is true that Brij Premi spent his lifetime on Manto and his works and one can see the latter’s influence on Premi’s writing in the later part of his life but fact remains that most of the short stories written by Premi had been penned down much before Manto had made any impact on his mind. Though Premi wanted to write stories based on psychology and human behaviour in the footsteps of Manto yet his own gentlemanliness and lack of exposure to what Manto called ‘Sewers of society’  became a stumbling block for him. There were no brothels to visit in Kashmir, no Saugandhis or Sultanas to keep him company nor were there any Babu Gopi Nath's to sacrifice everything for these forlorn castaways. Pushkar Nath, a well-known writer from Kashmir comments, “Those days Manto started dominating the literary scene and slowly Brij Premi got attracted towards him. Though he could not write exactly like Manto since he did not have a similar environment as Manto was beset in, yet he absorbed and assimilated each and every word of Manto and ultimately it all fructified in the form of his thesis ‘Sa’adat Hassan Manto Life and Works’.
‘Sapnoon Ki Sham’, a collection of short stories written by Dr.Brij Premi contains sixteen short stories. Most of them are written against the backdrop of beautiful lush green fields of Kashmir surrounded by blue snow- capped mountains but poverty and exploitation which resulted in pestilence and consumption ultimately take over and expose the delicate moth-eaten fabric of the society. In  “Mansbal Jab Sookh Gaya” (When Manasbal Dried), a helpless mentally delinquent servant stakes his life to protect the property of his master. In ‘Larazte Aansoo’ (Trembling Tears), a man seeking transfer on account of unhygienic conditions is asked by his boss to send his daughter which enrages him and turns him into a Socialist. “Hansi Ki Maut” (Death of a Smile) is a story of brave educated and hardworking lady who struggles all her life to support her unemployed husband and the child. ‘Bahte Nasoor’ (Festering Sores) comprises three short short-stories or what we now call Mini stories. In the first, Prakash seduces his girlfriend and later sells her in Bombay red light area. In the second, a father loses his son for mere four annas which he could not afford. In the third story, two friends are compared, one who has acquired riches while the other still remains a pauper.
‘Nanhi Kahanyan’ (possibly the word was coined to mean Mini Stories)comprises two short- short-stories. In the first, the exploitation of police is exposed while in the second a master kills his servant for not supplying him his wife. ‘Ujhri Baharoon Ke Ujhre Phool’ (The Withered Flowers of Wasted Spring) is a story revealed by a madman who loses his wife and child as a result of unemployment and consequent penury and finds his dreams shattered. In ‘Yaad’ (The Memories) the narrator keeps watching the oarsman while crossing a river. The Oarsman is lost in his thoughts trying to recollect his love-affair in youth. ‘Sharnarthi’ (The Refugee) is a story of a refugee who has lost his father defending his village and is himself crushed mercilessly by a rich man under his car. Surprisingly, the rich man is not booked by the police. ‘Chilman Ke Sayoon Mein’(Behind the curtain) is based on fetishism and has a distinct imprint of Manto in its treatment. ‘Aansoon ke Deep’ (The Tearful Farewell) is a story of a mother saying goodbye to a dying child.
‘Sapnoon ki Sham’ is a romantic story written in the style of Krishan Chander in which an uneducated woman Saaji falls in love with a village teacher who saves her life. She is later married to another person Salaama. Saaji is drowned in the rivulet flowing by while trying to build a bund on its banks to provide help to her husband. The village teacher offers a wreath of his tears to the deceased while sitting on the bank of the rivulet. ‘Mere Bache Ki Saalgirah’  (The Birthday of my Son) is a story of dreams and apprehensions with romantic narrative in Krishan Chander style. The story touches the personal life of the progressive writer who is congratulated by his friends prophesying that ‘Mao’ had taken birth in his house in the shape of his child. Needless to say that the writer must have felt proud dreaming his child to be a Mao in the making at a time when Socialism was regarded as the ultimate goal of a  civilised society. ‘Amar Jyoti’ (The Eternal Flame) is another story influenced by Socialism where a Russian lady honours a dead body by digging a grave for him under the cloud of bullets and cannons. Later on, she lights a flame on his grave. ‘Lamhon Ki Rakh’ (The Embers of Time) is a nostalgic  recollection of the narrator’s past love affair with Almas.‘Teesein Dard Ki’ (Writhes of pain) is a story of an apprehensive husband who always doubts his wife for her affair during the premarital days. On the contrary, the wife is magnanimous to look after her husband during his sickness unmindful of the treatment meted out to her by him earlier.‘Khwaboon Ke Dareeche’ ( A Peep into the Dreams) is a story based on sadism and Voyeurism and has a clear stamp of Mantovian style on it.
As per Abdul  Gani Sheikh, “Brij Premi nurtured his writings with his blood and never bothered about the returns from such writings”. Moti Lal Saqi is of the opinion that “Premi’s stories describe men in bone and flesh. They transgress the romanticism of middle class and venture into the areas of spiritualism and realism together. On the other hand, Prof. Manzoor Azmi believes that “ He(Premi) creates stories by describing a chain of events but does not believe in unnecessary conflicts between the events and characters in order to give it   a  melodramatic effect.”

One thing must be admitted here that Dr.Brij Premi picked up his pen at a time when the world of Urdu fiction was dominated by stalwarts like Krishen Chander, Bedi, Manto, Ashq, Ismat Chugtai and Qurratulain Hyder. The centre of activity had shifted to Bombay after the exit of Prem Chand and ‘futwas’ were being issued by writers’ organisations who would not entertain any newcomers. Under such circumstances, Dr Brij Premi had a herculean task to get himself recognised while sitting in a remote corner of India. Further, the local problems focussed by him were not considered as mainstream problems of India and therefore overlooked completely. Worse still, his state was the first state announcing land reforms bestowing ‘land to tillers’ which left no ammunition with the progressive writers of the State. Though the political instability witnessed by the state could have provided raw material to Dr Brij Premi yet he could neither afford to take sides with such elements who were responsible for creating such instability nor could he afford to subscribe to their subversive politics. It would also mean that he had to stake his job for a cause to which he did not subscribe. But then Dr.Premi  sublimated his inner desire by turning towards research work and exploring the maniacal world of Manto.
Coming back to Premi’s research on Manto, Premi had to understand Manto’s mind in three phases; first, the socialist Manto, second, the Freudian Manto, and third, the real Manto. Brij Premi had already been groomed in socialism and had studied Russian writers like Gorky, Dostoevsky and Chekhov. He had also familiarised himself with the writings of the french writer Maupassant who left an indelible impression on the mind of Manto. Premi had to learn the basics of psychology and other behavioural sciences to understand the bulk of Manto’s stories like ‘Thanda Gosht’ and ‘Hatak’. Last, Brij Premi had to internalise the pain and agony of migration caused as a result of the division of the country and understand stories such as ‘Khol Do’ and ‘Mozelle’. Nevertheless,  Dr Premi has lived up to the expectations of the Urdu fraternity by documenting the life and works of Manto with deftness and dexterity.
As I said earlier, we lost Dr Brij Premi at a time when he was in the prime of his life. The best was yet to come from him. Alas, nightmarish turmoil in the valley and consequent migration to inhospitable plains took its toll and snatched us of an inquisitive soul. May God bestow peace upon the departed soul.
                 ********

The #Informer- #ShortStory #English #Deepak Budki



                       The Informer
                                                                                             
                                                  By Deepak Budki


The city was agog with the rumours that informers were being hounded out, put to death. For the past fifty years the Valley had not known of even a single death but now four or five killings every day had become the order of the day.

Fear and anguish were writ large on everyone's face. It was difficult to trust one's own shadow. People started questioning  themselves 'Does my name appear in the list of informers?'...'Do they suspect me of connection with security forces?', or 'Has someone seen me talking to any security personnel?'

With every question that one asked oneself, restlessness would increase. 'Does anyone know about my political allegiance?'  And then his heart would beat faster with anxiety.. 'I do not suppose I have any enmity with any one that matters in today's world, then why should I be singled out?' His blood pressure would soar still high. Next day he would issue a clarificatory advertisement in a local daily so that people came to know that he was not connected with any political party nor did he have anything to do with any espionage agency.

One does not fear death as much as one fears the very idea of death. Everyone was working out plans to escape the inevitable death. Some tendered apologies in the press, some resorted to explaining their position, while others simply bade goodbye to the Valley.

However, Nilakanth did not take recourse to any of these. He had spent the sixty five years of his life honestly and with utmost austerity in the Valley. Even now he spent his days without worrying about the vitiated atmosphere around him.

The house of Nilakanth, made of Maharaja bricks akin to today's tiles, plastered with mud and covered with shingle roof, was situated on the bank of River Jehlum, which majestically flowed by since ages. He lived in a place called Habbakadal. This was the only place in the city of Srinagar that would come to life everyday with the cock's first crow. On the one hand the temple bells would start ringing, while on the other the Muezzin would call the faithful to pray to God. Within no time, the hawkers would throng the Habbakadal bridge and lure customers with the best sells. You could hear the vegetable sellers selling knol khol, lotus roots and Kashmiri saag, and fisherwomen taking swearing on petty pretexts to sell their fish. From one corner arose the appetizing smells from the baker's ovens, while from the other corner the sweet fragrance of milk arose from the Karahis of the Sweat meat shops. You could see a Hindu customer incanting Gaytri Mantra while buying fish, while you could see a Muslim incanting Surah Bakr of Holy Quran while checking the bundle of lotus roots. During the day the atmosphere became lively with the horses galloping on the road, bicycles ringing and making their way through the crowd and the puttering noise of the autorickshaws. The noise would continue till midnight. The road presented a captivating picture at the time boys and girls marched to their schools and colleges. Groups of young beautiful belles, clad in snow white kurta and shalwars, would be seen followed by young sadistic boys looking  for an opportunity to tease them. They would seize every little chance to pass a remark, while the coy young girl would simply blush, perspire and yet feel amused.

Today, it looked different. There was a sudden change in the air. God knew why Nilakanth was immersed in deep thoughts. His aged wife had just cleaned the pipe of his Hookah and changed its water. He filled the chilam with tobacco and topped it with burning charcoal and then sucked in a long draught of smoke through the pipe. While exhaling, clouds of smoke came out from his mouth. He looked blank for a moment with no thought whatsoever. He coughed for a while and then got immersed in his thoughts again.

He remembered the day of his marriage when he had to simply cross the Habbakadal bridge since the house of Arundati was situated on the opposite bank of the river. He could see her parental house from his own window, and watch her standing near the window. It was just the majestic Jehlum that separated their houses from each other.

After finishing her daily chores, Arundati sat by his side. One doesn't know how time flies. "Forty five years have passed since we got married," Nilakanth said to Arundati while looking at her face with disbelief.

"You sound romantic. How come you remembered your marriage, that too after all these years", Arundati was surprised.

"Just like that. Do you know what date is it today?"

"Date and Time! Who cares to remember them at this age? Don't you see our life is like a calendar of bygone year which hangs on the wall simply because it contains the picture of a God. Had there been no picture of God on it we would have thrown it away long back. We too are there hanging with the thread of time because they respect us and cannot throw us into the dustbin. Don't you think we too have become such Gods, waiting for time to wither us?"

"You are right, Arni. We too are waiting for our fate like those obsolete calendars on the wall".

Poor old Arni remembered that she had kept 'Kahwa' on the heater. "Perhaps, it must have started boiling", she thought with herself and taking support of the wall stood up and brought the tea kettle and two khasus, the brass cups. Nilakanth put his pipe aside, held the Khasu with his right hand, covered with the arm of phiran to use it as an insulation. Arundati poured tea into his Khasu and then went back, filled another Khasu for herself and again sat by the side of her husband.

"Arundati, do you remember that I used to watch you for hours from the roof of my house?"

"What has possessed you, you sound strange today".

She interrupted her husband and later herself became nostalgic about her childhood. Arundati was five years younger than her husband but due to acute arthritis for the last ten years her fingers had become ankylosed and swollen. Winter season aggravated her pain. The joint pain restricted the movement of her hands and feet but there was no way out, the household chores had to be performed because there was nobody to help her in this old age. Not that she did not have children but they were all gone, fending for their own families. One in America and the other in Mumbai.

"My right eyelid has been trembling for the last so many days. God knows what is to befall us". Arundati tore a small piece from the straw-mat underneath, moistening it with saliva she then put it on right eyelid in order to stop trembling.

"Our destiny is written in the Heavens above. Whatever has to happen will definitely happen", Nilakanth sounded pensive and resigned.

Arundati had never seen her husband resigned to fate earlier. She showed her annoyance when she couldn't get replies to her queries. For the last several days she had observed Nilakanth closing windows and the doors before going to sleep. He would check each latch of those to make sure that he had closed them properly. Sometimes, he would suddenly get up from his bed at night, carefully push the curtain of a window aside and peep into the darkness outside. Except the movement of the army vehicles and the foot fall of the soldiers on their nightly rounds he could hear nothing. And then he would return to his bed gripped with fear and anxiety.

"There is so much anxiety on your face, what is it that is eating you up? Have faith in God, everything will be all right, "Arundati would console her husband to put his fears to rest.

"Arni, it is not anxiety, but you should know that the situation has taken a bloody turn never witnessed before. The Lord Yama is plodding in every street on his Vahana., the buffalo. Only he knows what is going to happen next", Nilakanth laid bare the facts for he could contain himself no longer.

Old Arundati remembered the time when the Valley was invaded by the tribals from across the border, indulging in rape and slaughter. She was eighteen then. Heart-rending accounts of killing and rape everyday sent shivers through the spine of everybody. Srinagar city received the news that the tribal invaders had killed thousands of unarmed innocent people from Uri to Baramulla. They had not even spared the nuns of the local convent in Baramulla town and were heading towards Srinagar. People expected them anytime. Women, particularly the young girls decided to electrocute themselves to save their honour but as luck would have it the electric supply to the city was snatched away for days on end and they looked helpless. Their suicide plans could not be executed in the event the tribals entered the city and every moment turned into death alarm. Death that was approaching slowly but steadily.

One fine day news was received that the Indian army had pushed back the raiders and they were on the run. Everyone heaved a sigh of relief. Arundati had depicted unbounded courage those days. To this day she was proud of herself. How a similar situation had arisen. She implored to her husband, "Why do you worry? We have been through hell during the tribal raid. We will be through it somehow, why do you lose heart".

Having heard his wife's courageous words, Nilakanth heaved a sigh of relief but at the same time he pitied her innocence and simplicity.

Every morning he would lap up every line of newspapers. This was the only link left with the outside world. News came but in trickles, more fearsome than the previous one. Both souls writhed in anguish like clipped wingless birds.

"This is all your doing. Now face it. Veeru had invited us to America so many times but everytime you refused to go. God knows what keeps you glued to this place. Agreed that his wife is an American but how does it matter. She would not throw us out of her house. We would just occupy a corner of their house. We could have looked after their children. Children after all are the biggest source of satisfaction to the old people," Arundati spoke her heart out.

"It is not the question of Veeru's wife. You don't understand. At this age one is afraid to leave one's home. All our lives we have not even gone beyond Jawahar Tunnel, how can we think of going and staying beyond the vast ocean. Who knows what kind of country that would be, what kind of people would we come across, what is their style of life. And then why do you put all the blame on me? Your heart too was not inclined to leave this place".

"Ok, leave Veeru aside, Kaki too had invited you to Mumbai. You refused to go there because you thought breaking bread at a daughter's house was like eating beef. Have you forgotten that?"

"Arni, you just can't understand. If they really loved us they could have come here and taken us with them. How could we have refused then?"

"Both of them were ready to come but they were afraid of you. Your decisions are final. You are untractable. Remember, you had written letters to them not to come".

Veeru and Kaki both remained busy looking after their families in those metropolitan cities. In the Valley the old couple would count the days. How many were past! God knows how many remain.

"Today is the 7th of Shrawan. Birthday of Veeru's son. You should have prepared 'Tahri', the auspicious yellow rice today.

"It is Janam Ashtami today. Kaki's daughter was born today only. I hope you have sent a telegram to her?"

Both husband and wife remembered Veeru and Kaki, their children every passing moment. It seemed ages when we had received letters from them. Old age and loneliness are killing. One longs to see one's children but they think it is our selfishness to crave for children. How can one live without near and dear ones.

"Write to your son tomorrow asking him to send us tickets," Arundati ordered her husband.

"I am also thinking likewise. I shall call Kaki today. We shall stay in Mumbai for a few days and then go to Veeru's place".

"Do whatever you think right. It is already late in the night. Now go to sleep".

Arundati switched on the night lamp after all other lights were put off. Nilakanth was still uneasy. He got up from the bed and reassured himself that all the windows and doors had been secured. Till he was not convinced that everything was in place he strolled in the room wantonly. And then he was back in his warm bed. He handed over his Kangri to Arundati to keep it safely aside and then burrowed deep under the quilt. Sleep eluded him tonight. He kept turning in his bed. In the meantime there was a loud tap on the main door. Who could be at such a late hour? Their souls were gripped by fear; they shrank into their beds. Even stopped breathing out of fear.

Then they heard the cracking sound of the door being opened. Someone kicked the door of the room as well. The door opened wide like a wound. Two young men with mufflers masking their faces and with sten-guns in their hands, entered the room.

Without waiting they started firing indiscriminately. Though the souls of both old creatures had already left their bodies out of fear, yet the bodies had blood in them which gushed out from underneath the quilts. The armed youth turned round and left after a while, leaving death and silence behind.

Next day, the local newspaper carried following headline:

The Mujahids killed two informers, Nilakanth and Arundati in Habbakadal. They were suspected of being spies working for the Indian army.

The #Nest - #ShortStory #English #Deepak Budki

             
                                                         The Nest
                                                                      BY                                                                                       
                                                           Deepak Budki




I had recently shifted my office out of the valley as it was practically impossible for me to work there and do justice to my work. At last the orders had been received from above. Accommodating so many people as would fill a three storied building was a difficult task. After a long search a departmental building located right on the railway station and having some spare capacity, though still not sufficient enough, was identified.

I collected all the officials and gave them a long pep talk on how to adjust to the new surroundings and adapt to the changed circumstances. This called for their utmost dedication and sacrifice. They were not to expect the same facilities as were available to them previously. With faces crestfallen and future uncertain they readily agreed.

We lost no time to set our house in order. As for myself I chose a small room facing towards the railway platform. I personally supervised the decor of my room. On one side of the room facing the entrace door the office table and the chair were placed while on the other side the sofa set which had been shifted from the valley was adjusted. A large sized photograph of Mahatma Gandhi was hung on the wall opposite the window facing the platform. Through the window you could see a large tract of fallow land extending beyond the platform across the rails with urchins defecating besides the bristly cacti, stray cattle bracing the scorching heat in search of food and the dogs scavenging the garbage. The scenery was totally different from the one we were used to in the lush green valley beyond the Pir Panchal ranges. There was no cool breeze blowing in the mornings, no cold water piped down from the Cheshma Shahi, the eternal royal spring and no cool shadows under the majestic Chinars to rest underneath. It was a different world altogether.

A few glass panes of the window had been broken and nobody attended to them because there were other important things to do. Often hot and dusty winds would blow through them and produce burning sensation on my cheeks.
One day while I was sitting in my chair I spotted a sparrow with a dry twig in its beak darting down from the blue expanse above. It sat on the window -sill for a while deep in contemplation and then flitted across the room to deposit the twig behind Gandhiji’s photograph. Then came another sparrow with piece of straw in her mouth and followed suit. Sometime in the past, God alone knows when they had agreed to live together and build a nest for themselves. A nest -where they would spend an entire season together, mate, lay eggs, hatch them to see young ones popping out their tiny beaks, and feed them till they would take to their wings. They flew time and again in search of more such material and kept depositing the same behind the photograph unmindful of my presence. I watched them for a long time and appreciated their skill and patience.

The sparrows too seemed to have migrated from some far off uncongenial place and were eager to cohabit since the monsoon was fast approaching. While watching them I felt that building a nest was as instinctive as eating, breathing or drinking for the whole animal world.

Day in and day out I saw these two sparrows building their nest straw by straw. They collected dry twigs, pieces of bark and straw, cotton wool, fallen dry leaves and feathers from places far and near and brought them into the room with a sense of elation and anticipation. Many a time they sat on the window-ledge and looked towards the nest with eagerness and urgency. In the process, more often than not, they forgot their own food. The very idea of a comfortable nest with their offspring protruding their tiny beaks evaporated whatever tiredness they had felt and this made them redouble their efforts. As a result it dawned upon me that it was not only the human beings who dreamt of a sweet home but birds too enjoyed the idea of a nice home of their own.

The two weavers kept weaving their nest meticulously with all finesse, intertwining the warp and the weft made of dry grass blades and straw. They used the cotton wool and the animal hair for cushioning the nest and to give it a soft touch. Simultaneously, they started to live in the nest though their efforts to embellish it still continued. I had become accustomed to their presence and with the passage of time had lost interest in these harmless creatures.

Nature rewarded them soon thereafter with bounteous monsoons. The atmosphere was filled with the songs of Koel and the croaking of frogs. There was romance everywhere. Young maidens riding on the swings welcomed the showers. Not to be left behind, the he-sparrow started petting and necking the she-sparrow with his small tiny beak, often expanded his wings as wide as possible to impress his sweetheart of his majestic presence and after assuring himself that his female partner was ready to receive him rode on her back while twitching his tail. For both of them there could be no better moment of ecstasy as this one.

After some time I had to proceed on leave for about a week and could not keep a track of these two tiny lovers who had taken refuge in my room for making love. My room remained close during the week. The two lovers had their heyday in my absence. No watchful human eyes pursued them any longer. There was no human interference whatsoever and apparently that they had a real good time. They had possibly thought that I had abandoned the room forever. They sat wherever they liked, on the blade of the fan, on the writing table or on the chairs. Twigs, straw and feathers had been strewn everywhere and the room had been littered with offensive smelling faces of these birds.

After having spent the week on leave I was eager to join my office, and therefore, reached my office early in the morning. Nobody had yet come to the office except the chowkidar and the sweeper. I asked the chowkidar to open my room. As I entered the room I was horrified to see its condition. There were pieces of straw, feathers and twigs strewn everywhere. Worse still the two birds had defecated at many places and their excreta stuck to the upholstery of the sofa and the chairs besides the glass top of the table. I watched helplessly and did not know how to react. Slowly the anger welled up inside me and I was besides myself with rage. I immediately called the sweeper and ordered him to clean the room. As if that was not enough, I asked him to remove the nest from behind the photograph. Shortly thereafter the sweeper reported to me that the nest had a few eggs inside it and it would not be proper to throw them away. He was too religious to think of destroying a nest having eggs in it. I could notice from his face that he was reluctant to carry out my orders and therefore did not press for the same as it could hurt his religious sentiments. So I took it upon myself to remove the nest from behind the photograph and throw it out of the window. The tiny eggs broke open as soon as they fell on the ground and the fluid in them oozed and spread over the surface. The chowkidar and the sweeper kept looking helplessly. So did the Mahatma from behind the glass frame.

I left the room for the sweeper to clean it and mop the furniture and as soon as he reported completion, I returned and took my seat in the chair and started disposing of the office files.

Almost after an hour the she-sparrow came flying from the heavens above with a grain of wheat in her mouth which she wanted to share with her mate in the exclusivity of her nest. She sat on the window-sill for a while with her eyes radiant with hope and promise. She flew straight towards the photograph but to her dismay could not find her nest there. She kept hovering around the place in utter disbelief and distress not knowing what had be fallen her sweet home. All her dreams had been belied and plans shattered. In deep anguish and frustration she flitted across the room unmindful of the rotating fan above. She had simply gone mad. In one of the rapid moves her body struck the fast moving blades of the fan and within moments her wing was torn into pieces, the feathers scattered on the floor and she herself fell dead on the floor.

Then came the he-sparrow with mirth and joy writ large on his face and sat on the window-sill. As he peeped into the room all his happiness evaporated like ether and he became sullen at the sight of his companion. He too flew towards the photograph to find for himself what was in store for him. Shocked and bewildered he darted down to his partner and hovered over her dead body for a long time with the expectation that she may hear his call and wake up. But that was not to be. His mate was silent as a stone. He was now convinced that she would not hear his call nor would the destroyed nest be rebuild. Dejected, he flew back and sat on the window-sill where he kept brooding for sometime. He had lost his mate, his home and his offspring to my wanton desire. His life had become desolate and held no promise for future. Quietly, he gathered his courage and flew away into the vast blue expanse towards the milky horizon never to return and I watched him in horrified silence

Deepak Budki's Writings

                Deepak Budki- Urdu Short Story Writer & Critic



Deepak Budki is a retired Indian Postal Service Officer (Retired in 2010 as Member Planning, Postal Services Board, New Dlehi). Served in Army for 9 years on deputation attaining  the rank of Lt Col. With basic education as M Sc (Botany) and B Ed, he graduated from National Defence College, New Delhi, India (ndc) as also became an Associate of Insurance Institute of India, Mumbai during his service career. His interests are Literature, Art and Painting, Cartooning, and Gardening besides Cricket. 

Being a renowned short story writer, Budki's short stories numbering more than 100 besides more than 250 critical essays and book reviews  have been published in reputed magazines and newspapers all over the Urdu world. Many of the short stories stand translated into other languages like Hindi, English, Marathi, Telugu, and Kashmiri.He started writing short stories in 1970 when his first short story 'Salma' was published in Daily Hamdard, Srinagar, Kashmir. One of his short stories 'Reyzey' was televised by Door Darshan Srinagar in 1974. After joining his service he gave up writing for almost 20 long years but 1996 saw the rebirth of the witer. Ever since his pen has been very active.
Deepak Budki has to his credit 6 collections of  Short Stories in Urdu viz  Adhoore Chehre, Chinar ke Panje, Zebra Crossing par Khara Aadmi,  Reza Reza  Hayat, Ruh Ka Karab and Muthi Bhar Rait  (ادھورے چہرے ، چنار کی پنجے ، زیبرا کراسنگ پر کھڑا آدمی ، ریزہ ریزہ حیات، روح کا کرب اور مٹھی بھر ریت ) besides 4 Collecions of Critical Essays and Book Reviews viz  Asri Tehreerein, Asri Shaoor, Asri Taqaze and Asri Tanazur(عصری تحریریں ، عصری شعور ، عصری تقاضے اور عصری تناظر) .Two of  his books, Adhoore Chehre and Chinar Ke Panje (अधूरे चेहरे , चिनार के पंजे ) have also been published in Hindi. As many as three urdu magazines, Shair Monthly Mumbai, Intesaab Quartely Sironj and Asbaque quarterly Pune brought out special numbers on the author. The author's short stories received rave reviews from leading luminaries such as Qateel Shifai, Warris Alvi, Balraj Komal, Qamar Rais, Anwar Sadeed, Harcharan Chawla,Sultana Mehar etc. The deftness and the artistry with which Budki weaves his short stories has been much appreciated. his stories paint the agony of humanity and make the reader sit back and ponder over where the humanity has gone wrong. In a rare compliment Prof Qamar Rais writes;
The short stories create a unique and individualistic impression which is not seen in other contemporary writers. Whether it is Amma', 'Mange ka Ujala' or 'Chinar ke Panje', every story has something to think and ponder about."
In 2006 Deepak Budki sprang up a surprise by coming out with a book on Critical Essays and Book Reviews titled 'Asri Tehreerein'. Te book makes a critical study of works of Manak Tala, Gulzar, Dr Brij Premi, and Veerinder Patwari besides more than fifty reviews on books of contemporary writers. About his critical essays famous prose writer, Kaiser Tamkeen of Britain describes Budki's work on Manak Tala to be as good as a dissertation which could have earned him a PhD degree. 
Two students  successfully submitted dissertations on Budki's works for their M Phil  degree while one student successfully submitted her thesis for her PhD degree as under:
  1. Deepak Budki ki Afsana Nigari by Javed Iqbal Shah subnitted to Jammu University
  2. Deepak Budki ke Afsanon mein Niswani Kirdar by Mohammed Amin Najar submitted to School of Humanities, University of Hyderabad, Telangana. 
  3. Deepak Budki ke Takhleequi Afkar ka Tanqueedi mutala'a by Sofia Bano submitted to M S University, Vadodra, Gujarat.
Deepak budki was awarded 'Bhartiya Gaurav Award' by the International Friendship Society in 2009 which was handed over to him by Shri B N Singh, erstwhile Governor of Assam and Tamil Nadu. He was also honoured by Andhra Urdu Academy, Sadhbavna Manch, Sironj, Bhopal and J&K Urdu Academy,Srinagar.
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