Poetry with a difference

Sahiba saw things happen before her eyes and as a sensitive soul made her react very sharply to the atmosphere

Prof Syed Habib
Srinagar, Publish Date: Oct 19 2017 10:06PM | Updated Date: Oct 19 2017 10:06PM
Poetry with a difference

If the intensity of feeling, the expansive murmur of colorful emotional flow foaming with pathos, the flavor of intellectual beauty reaching out social problems hardened by the insensitivity of the people around, and a creative expression that battles with the conflicts of the self wounded in a morbid culture is poetry, no one would hesitate calling Nighat Sahiba a poetess of Kashmir and that too of a good standing! But first she needs a different introduction.

She springs up from the soil of Achabal, a far flung rural area though, yet known for allurements for tourists who have been coming here in Kashmir and therefore Achabal for many years. Kashmir is known as an abode of sages and seers side by side with a culture that is liberally religious. Women in this community of Kashmiris have by and large been working with men almost equally in fields where nature and mind blowing beauty is immensely shooting from minds hymn and song as of birds whose chirp is melodious and orchestral sound magical. In spite of this togetherness of men and women in field and festival, home and its merriment, men have always held an upper hand which grew with the coming of freedom as a result of the land to tiller reform, the economic welfare due to political reasons and the educational expansion as an offshoot of urbanization and gradual rise of middle class. During these years of turmoil, again due to political necessity, the authoritarian character of the male grew to realize also political goals. Sahiba saw things happen before her eyes and as a sensitive college and university girl made her react very sharply to the new atmosphere which is the product of a sea change, not in authoritative fabric only but in unemployment, nepotism, favoritism, corruption and fraud that changed people's values and character to a large extent and made the life of the youth, especially those of the feminine gender, tougher and more stressful than ever before. Her poetry side by side with her growth and maturity needs to be viewed in this context in order to estimate the valor of this youthful grace!

Poetry as a universal art has its own established standards, freedom of form being as one of them. We cannot understand Sahiba's artistic status unless we see how, with different perspectives applied, she emerges as a youthful poetess! Historical perspective, psychoanalysis, imaginative and inspirational perspective and aesthetic perspective with techniques of art beatification are some important ones, but, it not being a detailed analysis of Sahiba’s poetry, we will have to restrict ourselves and be brief!

She must not be an individual only, must be, as Rumi and Carl Jung say, a collective unconscious carrying with her everyone, even the demons that make social life hard, of women harder. She pulls her brows up at them addressing:


Ba chhas hawa ta kaensi chhas na baari khotcnawnam //ba kya faqat badan chhasa bemaari khatcnaawnam?

 Kus chhu dohdish me wanaan thaaw yi pazaib kadith // kus chhu paadan me yi zanjoori walaan ''karizi wafa"


This is collective soul reacting to collective souls who threaten the existence of others for no genuine reasons. This is freedom nurtured in self awareness that cuts its way through thorny paths of negative resistance to progress. This is Sahiba emerging in the soil of Azad and Mehjoor with a similar passion that gives poetry a prophetic color in the words of Iqbal, the poet of the East! This is a poet in the words of Shelley maturing to give birth to nurslings of immortality. This is sowing seeds of resistance in the minds of the delicate sex that for no genuine religious reasons are thrown back into the dungeon of obscurity. This is progressive verse that exposes the design of the exploiter who buys innocent helpless life for his un-satiated greed for money and power. This is pathos wrought in historical mould for imaginative activity!

Sahiba's poetry is psychologically laden:  one can find enough of material in it for psychoanalytic treatment.  Morbid morality, betrayal, lack of responsibility and sensibility of people to problems related with social units like family, and merry-go-round of the licensed Romeos grown undisciplined in undisciplined atmosphere provide evidence to this degeneration of social value.

"Preth raetc sabz khaab dohas zard paneki fair// tani phulyi waneki jaame manas zard paneki dair,,,

Asmaan yemis trayi pathar tas ti tulya kanh // kath paan walaan bon'i'godas zard paneki dair "

Rightly so, this collection of poems is named as the heap of autumnal leaves, as it is the fulcrum of Sahiba's poetry, the sea deep feeling which looks like Wordsworthian refrain of her lay! A seasoned bard only can write such lines to treat poetry as the art of soul!  Well great poets like Ghalib, and  Faiz who gained universal fame are great for  artistic virtues but when I read this poem I was dumfound! The depth of feeling makes the verse superb and supreme. There are many more verses of this sort in the collection which give tears the value of pearls or more!


"Yi hijr dag ti tsaalha sambaalha ta paalha // khudayi bas yutuy mangy wisaal aakh roozi'tan 


Su yus khazir kullen chhu moat gomut wuchhi na yor'kun // yeth aangnas tsanani kujen nomaan shaakh roozitan "


Passion, love and lust are not isolated ingredients but often as single fundamental units of life operating though with variant shades as of a rose bloomed .That applies to such feeling-verses as are cited above. We see Sahiba's passion dance in various ways absorbitantly!  We see her wriggle for a RIGHT TO LIVE as an individual crushed under the rubbish of ignorance, conventionality and insensibility. We see her emerge as a challenge for those who are barring the onward movement of life due their benumbed soul. Words fail to applause this conscious thrust in pathetic form. 

Beauty is the blood of the body poetics and it can be seen in the raiment of a bride as in the jingle of her bangles. At times it winks at the beholder in the form of henna that a bride applies in the bridal night spreading fragrance to incite feeling. At times it can rest on a pillow loosening its tresses fallen as if in deep sleep. It is flowers of Kashmir in various hues and colors grown for instance on the banks of a spring where lasses gather to share their soul. The sky and its moonlit nights midst numerous twinkles wonder producing and the spread of earth down below full of growth and greenness are as important beauty marks as the sparkling sun and the soothing shade.  Drop and sea and rain and river around mornings and evenings happening is beauty as youth passing slowly and steadily into maturity and mellowness and then watching autumnal leaves preparing for a new life---all these and many other forms and shades of beauty pass through the mind of the poetess Sahiba before she wears them words assembled in the capacity of her memory and woven by her imagination. And a poetess can be recognized by how she weaves her imaginative garment for the bride of her poetry.

The beauty toss of the poetess can be seen in her ideas and their wriggle in social situation or in personal dreams. How she resolves the tension between the individual and the social can also issue a certificate of merit to her capacity of versification as an art. Sahiba maintains our interest in seeing her art and its beautification. Here she appears not less adept than in other areas and really winning applause! She is a wonderful poetess, growing, smiling as her wounds do, though her wounds are the wounds of humanity!

Shelley and Wordsworth in English, Josh and Faiz in Urdu, Rasul Mir, Ahad Zargar and Dina Nath Nadim in Kashmiri  are known for their verse adorned with beautiful words and word pictures , simple and complex. Their imaginative qualities have not however damaged the message that the bards communicate for humanity's sake!  Sahiba's applications in this regard create wonder as she appears inspired for the task though not much nurtured in the field. Her impact for this is burgeoning-

"Na tsa raawhakh na wuchh'ha ba yi haal aasmaanuk // na chhu taarkan su gaashy na khumaar zooneh raetcan

Baeyi, maalyun, lassun, balayi lagun// daedi dokh paninyaar aaby aab 

Posh aayas walneh pazaiban yuthuy tath daidi tcaayi // bismilla parihey tythuy aawaz boozen "waay leji"

-may provide some clue to this beautiful art of messaging! 


Sahiba's diction is colored with the situations she faces; like characters in a novel her words take note of what she deals with or of what kind. Her words at places cross the lanes of Kashmiri though they are now quite broadened this way or that way. She uses Persian words also and appropriately. Her choice of simile and metaphor is apt and the allegorical touches are good. Visualization, portraiture, phonetics, and impact compose so to say the musicality of her verse. Many of her verses though pathetic can be sung for delight:  pathos in them may not interfere but add to their delightfulness.

The book has been published in Jammu which again shows how difficult it is for a Kashmiri writer, more so if underprivileged, to do a creative job. She deserves appreciation for getting a publisher outside Kashmir. ‫The book is presentable but the cover page does not attract much.





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