Wednesday, 30 May 2012
Monday, 28 May 2012
Friday, 25 May 2012
Omkar Koul as a Short Story writer
Omkar Koul is a well known linguist and a short story writer from Kashmir valley who has more than fifty two books to his credit mostly related to comparative studies of Indian languages, their teaching and their development. Kashmiri language and linguistics has been his special area of focus.
Koul inherited love of letters from his poet father, Prem Nath Koul 'Arpan' and was further influenced by village folk dance and drama such as 'bachcha nagma', 'banda pather', 'kanils' accompanying muslim bridegrooms with 'dhols' and 'Surnais', besides regular 'bhajans', 'leelas' and 'artis' at home in Bogam, Kulgam. Some leelas (bhajans) were written by local artistes including his father which inspired him to try his own hand in this genre at a very early stage of his life. His maiden effort was found out by his father who, however, did not discourage him. He continued writing poetry, short stories and his diary from 1960 onwards during his college and university days but unfortunately these manuscripts got destroyed during his migration from the valley in 1990. After his MA (Hindi), he went to Delhi looking for a job in Oct 1963. It was during this time that his first short story 'Tution' was published in a literary magazine in 1964. His pursuit of linguistics during his Ph D at Agra (1964-67), stay in USA (1968-71), as also his precoccupation with his job as Principal, Central Institute of Indian Languages, Northern Regional Language Centre, Patiala (1971-87) did not allow him time enough to devote to creative writing because he remained engrossed in research work and critical studies. However, his stint as Professor and Head of the Languages Department at LBSNAA, Mussoorie, a picturesque and hilly place,(1987-94) and later as Deputy Director/Director at Central Institute of Indian Languages, Mysore from1994 upto his retirement in 2001, rekindled the fire of creative writing in him.
About his writing, he holds that it became necessary and compulsory due to the career chosen by him but he writes short stories for his own pleasure. He translated eleven Kashmiri stories into Hindi for a Kolkatta organisation for the first time which were published in a collection “Bharti Shresht Kahaniyan” and were later published in 1992 separately as “Kashmiri Kahaniyan”. His collection of 55 short stories in Hindi, 'Mulaqat', was published in 2001 for which he received an award from the Government of India in 2003 given to him by Hon'ble Atal Bihari Vajpayee. The book was later translated by Pyare 'Hatash' into Kahmiri in 2003 and Abdul Mughani into Urdu in 2006.
Looking at the length of the stories in 'Mulaqat'(The Meeting) and 'Aekhri Faesle'(The Final Decision), a collection of Kashmiri short stories, these can easily be categorised as short-short stories or mini stories, a genre of fiction that has received impetus of late, rather than as short stories. Notwithstanding, the writer claims in his preface to Mulaqat, “In my opinion the story is neither short nor long.The story reveals itself in as many words as the subject matter permits.These stories have diversity as regards the subjects they deal with and the style they employ.” These stories mostly pertain to personal, social and cultural subjects, romance, flirtations, inter- and intra-personal relations in families and society, issues of women and old age, poverty, nepotism, comparative cost of living in US etc. While the system of education, methods of teaching, inter-relations of teachers and students and examination system dominate the subjects dealt in the stories, the most poignant stories told by Koul are that of migration of Kashmiri Pandits, a miniscule minority bestowed with intellectual prowess, as a result of militancy in their homeland , Kashmir. Some other stories like 'Ullu', 'Saanp' and 'Nazar' have both wit and subtle humor in them.
Some of the stories in 'Aekhri Faesle' that have impressed me most are as follows. In 'Nosh', the mother-in-law in a mindless narrative narrates the failure of the marriage of her son, an uneducated and unemployed man, who is forced to marry an unsuspecting girl, in order to make him realize his responsibility, but his continuous refusal to do any work, resorting to domestic violence and the consequent reaction of his wife makes things worse. The story unwittingly represents the fate of many a poor girl in the Indian subcontinent. The style of narrating the story through a continuous monologue of the mother in law (stream of consciousness) is interesting.This style has also been adopted in 'Sule Tilwoen' who narrates the woes of his own miserable life. Exploitation of poor and illiterate has also been deftly portrayed in 'Roghe ' where a village boy is deprived of a promised job for fear of not getting a replacement. In 'Ashram' aspersions are cast upon a kind and philanthropic lady who patronizes an unknown poor man so much so that she has to leave the Ashram and die. Chuni lal , however, takes care of her till death and frowns at the people calling them the killers of Kaushaliya behn. In 'Aekhre Faesle', an ill treated father and widower, throws out his children and resolves to live on his own. Other stories related to old age are 'Dadu', 'Panun Yezath',and 'Koethe'. In yet another touching story , 'Khata', a muslim girl saves the life of her hindu neighbours at the cost of her own life. Another story related to migration is 'Hisab'. In 'Panchath', a muslim girl asserts her right to decide about her and her husband's future rather than succumbing to the diktats of Panchayat.
Omkar Koul draws characters from his surroundings and often paints the scenario in a touching manner as in 'Khata' and 'Roghe'.Social relevance of his stories need not be over emphasised. Though many of his stories have been written about Kashmir, yet his wide travels and experiences have enriched his stories and found him new and varied subjects. I would, however, want him to dissect his characters patiently like a surgeon and not rush through the story since the subjects of some of his stories demand a lengthier treatment. I wish and hope he enriches the Kashmiri language with many more stories in days to come.
Wednesday, 23 May 2012
Friday, 18 May 2012
बहुत दिनों से वह परेशां सा लग रहा था परन्तु किसी पर अपनी दशा व्यक्त नहीं की। अंततः मैंने स्वयं ही पूछने की हिम्मत की। "सुरेश , क्या बात है कई दिनों से उदास नज़र आ रहे हो?"
उस ने चेहरे पर बनावटी मुस्कराहट ओढ़ कर उत्तर दिया , "ऐसी कोई बात नहीं है।बस यूँ ही थोड़ी बहुत वित्तीय समस्या है। दुसरे हफ्ते मेरे पिता सम्मान बड़े भाई शीत कालीन छुटियाँ बिताने के लिए यहाँ आ रहे हैं। उन्होंने हमें कभी भी माता पिता की कमी महसूस होने नहीं दी। मेरे साथ ही दीदी के घर में रहेंगे। अब मेरा भी तो कुछ कर्त्तव्य बनता है। मैं चाहता हूँ की उनको एक गरम सूट का कपडा उपहार दे दूं।
सुरेश ने अपने पैतृक गाँव में यह बात फैला रखी थी की वह दिल्ली में अमरीकी दूतावास में अफसर हो गया है जबकि सत्य यह है की वह अमरीकी सहायता से चल रहे एक एन जी ओ में पांच सौ रुपये प्रति मास की पगार पर स्टेनो-टायपिस्ट का काम कर रहा है।
" तुम चिंता न करो, हम किसी न किसी तरह से प्रबंध कर लेंगे। कितने रुपये की आवश्यकता है? "
"यही कोई छे सौ रुपये की।"
मैं और मेरे एक दोस्त ने अपनी जेबें टटोल कर उसे छे सौ रुपये दे दिए और वह संतोष हो कर चला गया।
उस रोज़ के बाद वह अढाई साल तक हर महीने बीस बीस रुपये करके अपना ऋण उतारता रहा परन्तु गाँव में उस की ठाठ बरकरार रही।
Sunday, 13 May 2012
कुछ वर्ष पहले जब गणतंत्र दिवस के दिन गुजरात में ज़ोरदार भूकंप आया , कई शहर नष्ट हो गए। बीसियों लोग मारे गए , सेंकडों लोग लापता हो गए और लाखों लोगों के मकान नष्ट हो गए। कई इलाके तो बाहर की दुनिया से पूरी तरह कट गए। संचार-व्यवस्था फिर से बहाल होने में भी चार पांच दिन लग गए।
अपने स्टाफ की हिम्मत बढ़ाने के लिए मैं तीसरे दिन ही कच्छ के ज़िला बुझ पहुँच गया। विभागीय भवन और स्टाफ की हालत देखकर थोडा बहुत संतोष हुआ परन्तु हर तरफ बच्चों की चीखें , माँ बाप के बैन और विधवाओं की सिसकियाँ सुनाई दे रही थीं।
बाज़ार में चलते चलते एक दुकान पर नजर पड़ी जहाँ कुछ ही समय पहले यज्ञ का आयोजन हुआ था। अब सामने सड़क पर हजारों बेघर गरीबों को खाना खिलाया जा रहा था।
मेरी उत्सुकता को भांप कर मेरे एक मातहत कर्मचारी ने खबर दी , " सर , इस दुकान का मालिक बहुत ही खुश नसीब साबित हुआ। दो दिन के बाद उस के दो बच्चे और पत्नी सही सलामत मलबे में से निकाले गए। यही कारण है कि उस ने भगवान् का धन्यवाद् देने के लिए यज्ञ का आयोजन किया।"
उस की बात सुन कर मुझ से रहा न गया। बिना सोचे समझे मैंने उत्तर दे दिया , " और जिन के बाल बच्चे मर गए , उन को क्या करना चाहिए ?"
वह मुझे टुक्कर- टुक्कर देखने लगा। उस के पास मेरे प्रश्न का कोई उत्तर नहीं था।
वह मुझे टुक्कर- टुक्कर देखने लगा। उस के पास मेरे प्रश्न का कोई उत्तर नहीं था।