Mushtaq Ul Haq Ahmad Sikander reviews Noor Shah’s Kashmir Kahani originally written in Urdu and observes how this collection of short stories and dramas each revealing the human cost and dimension of the Kashmir conflict is a must-read for every person who is interested in the human angle of the Kashmir dispute.
- Publisher: Meezan Publishers, Srinagar, Kashmir
- Pages: 167
- Price: Rs 250
A short story in Urdu has a long history. It has witnessed many phases and evolution. From being paranormal in its orientation, it began to document the daily lives of common people. It is the human stories that the literature should manifest. Literature is a mirror of society, but with each passing day, the mirror is getting blurred. It is difficult to understand whether society has turned a blind eye towards literature, or our writers have failed to depict reality.
Since the conflict turned violent in Kashmir, there are thousands of human stories that need to be documented. Our writers still have not explored the multi variegated dimensions of the common man and violent conflict. Literature from Kashmir is yet to make a breakthrough at the international level. But Kashmiri writers have not stopped documentation in the form of creative writing giving voice to the stories of the common masses. One such versatile and prolific voice is Noor Shah, who has been writing in vernacular Urdu for the last five decades. His numerous short story collections have been published and many of his stories have been translated into other languages too.
The book under review titled Kashmir Kahani (The Story of Kashmir: Short Stories, Dramas), is a new addition to the Urdu literature from Kashmir. In his foreword to this collection, Dr. Ashraf Asari laments that there are no brave writers among us today like Akhtar Mohiuddin, still, the writers are taking inspiration from the conflict as is reflected from their stories. Noor Shah is one such voice. It is a correct depiction of Noor Shah’s writings in this collection. He, like Akhtar Mohiuddin, writes about violence and conflict.
The collection comprises twenty short stories and three dramas. Each of them has been inspired by the conflict and violence. The heavy toll that violent conflict takes on humans is depicted vividly. Disappearances have been a common feature of the conflict. Young men who were arrested by the state agencies went missing in their custody. No one is aware of their fate, and their families are left anguished for their whole lives in a vain attempt to search for their missing men. Along with disappearances, the unknown graves are also a permanent feature of Kashmir. No one is aware of the credentials of the people buried in these unknown and unmarked graves. The agony and pain of these families are depicted in the stories of Noor Shah.