Saturday, May 22, 2021

A TRIBUTE TO POET RADHEY NATH MASARAT.

                                        



                                            
                                          

                                         
                                       
   
                                          

( In above four videos, poet Radhey Nath Masarat is reciting his Kashmiri poems. Source.. YouTube)

RADHEY NATH MASARAT........(1939-2021)

He was from Zainpora ,Shopian and lived at Rainawari in Srinagar city for most part of his life. He was the gentlest person I have ever come across in my life. I knew him possibly since 1971. He had a cloth shop in Jogilanker Chowk .The shop was exactly opposite to the primary wing of DAV School in Jogilanker Chowk. His shop was possibly owned by the family of Basker Nath Raina ( government contractor ). Apart from selling cloth, he had a vast circle of friends in Rainawari that included poets, painters, writers , theatre artists ,teachers and social activists.

My mother bought white' Latha' quilt covers from him possibly in 1971. That is where I met him first. I vividly remember that day. After we finished our purchases,he asked me what I was doing. I told him about S.P.College, Bazm e Adab, Prof. Ghulam Nabi Firaq and Nadim Sahib. He felt amused. My mother told him this:

" I don't know what he writes. He writes and tears apart the paper. He comes to my Pooja room and reads everything including Ramcharitmanas . Whatever he does, I want him to get a bank job. You should also bless him."

My mother took the quilt covers and left the shop. I stayed back. Radhey Nath Ji asked me to recite something that I had written. I read some lines from my poem. I quote:



" Matah Kar tam vaeni gatti manz naash

Baeti chhus Haavaan doan tson gaash

Zaaatak haavikh tcham shehlaavikh

Me ti pretchhihe kaanh kyaa chhai raash"



( Why blow me out

in this darkness ?

I too show light,

may be to two or

may be to four travellers .

They got their horoscopes interpreted, reviewed

and satisfied themselves ,

Alas! none sought to know my zodiac sign or my fate.)

On hearing these lines, he felt very happy. I remember him saying this:

" Continue . You need no teacher. Keep coming . My blessings ."

Thereafter , I would visit his shop now and then. When my poem was published in Partap magazine , i went to him. He read it again and again. He asked me to keep the magazine with him. He read the poem to Farooq Nazki', Jawahar Beera, artist P.N. Kachru, Chaman Lal Abhay,Prof Mohan Krishen Kak ,J L Dhar ( Sita Travels) and some more people who regularly visited his shop.Prediman Ji Wattal, Surrender Kachru,J L Raina ( fondly known as  Jawa Sartre), poet Moti Lal Naaz, and Poet Muzaffar Azim would also visit him. And then one day, he took me to Vishwa-Bharati Women's college in our locality. A Mushaira was organised by Information Department in the college premises that evening. He introduced me to Nadim Sahib. Prof Firaq was also there. Firaq Sahib told him that he had found no issues of Radeef, Qaafiya and Wazan in what I wrote. He already knew me. He was directly associated with Bazm e Adab of S. P. College where he taught English.I kept visiting his shop. He got two of my poems published in Koshur Samachar that used to be published from Delhi. I also heard him recite his poem on 26th January from AIR ,New Delhi representing Kashmiri segment in the National Symposium of poetry held annually on Republic Day.

                                                                            



In 1974 , I moved to Jammu after I qualified the NIBM test and got allocated to PNB. I wrote him two letters. He responded. The last sentence was always Aashirwad. I got transferred to Kashmir in 1976. The ties became stronger. I helped him with his banking issues. He would come to PNB or handover cash to me for purchase of bank drafts for his suppliers based in Surat and Ahmedabad. Honesty, simplicity and truthfuness was ingrained in his DNA and he became a friend,philosopher and guide. He was there in my sister's marriage and our Mekhla ceremony performed in 1978. He gifted me some books , some issues of Sheeraza published by the Cultural Academy and some literary magazines.

He had fairly good knowledge of Marxism, Camus, Sartre, Kafka and Faiz . Sometimes, I would read Mahadevi Verma and Nirala to him. I vividly remember how interested he became in some french words that I had picked up from an old woman who taught us French for some period . He had fairly good knowledge of Sanskrit and Persian vocabulary. From these qualities , one could safely call him a polyglot.

From my conversations with him , I gathered that he was all praise for Nadim Sahib , G R Santosh, Pran Kishore ,Ali Mohammed Lone ,Shamim Ahmed Shamim and some more intellectuals. Once or twice ,I heard him bringing some Dohas of Kabir in his conversation. As news translator, he was also associated with AIR for more than four decades.

                                                                       


                    ( Poet Radhey Nath Masarat with his wife Krishna Ji )

He remains a noted Kashmiri poet with a distinct style. His vocabulary is unique and refreshing. Nazm was his forte .Impeccable style, impressive diction, metaphor usage and conceptual clarity ; these are some essential features of his poetry.. He deserved his rightful place in the literary hierarchy of his land. We failed in that effort. However , posterity will judge him and his work on merits and I am certain that he shall always remain taller. When translated, his poems achieve the status of universal thought and these become a part of world literature. Accordingly, there is an imperative need to make his poetry known to one and all. I am happy to find that his family has started making efforts in this direction. This is what Shantiveer Kaul told me about his poetry :-

 

I met him on many an occasion over the years. He was always  creatively active. His style was uniquely his own. I also translated some poems of Masarat Sahib into Hindi  for an institution connected with promotion of literature and art.  I am  struck by his use of a vocabulary that is pastoral and pretty musical - a vocabulary city dwellers are not familiar with straightaway.”

This is what eminent scholar and writer  Dr Shashi Shekhar Toshakhani told me about Radhey Nath Masarat:-

" I have translated his poems into Hindi for  the Sahitya Akademi  publications. His poem Vatee Paedh  was also translated by me and it was published in oct-Dec1992 issue of ' Contemporary Indian Literature' / Samkaaleen Bhartiya Sahitya ' book in Hindi . I still remember my opening line ' Jis chehre ki padi zaroorat ussey dikhaaya aur chale' . It is a beautiful poem. Another poem of Masarat Ji that I translated into Hindi shall never be forgotten by me. I' Tu naan bataaye bina kahaan se Sara hai, tu apna naam bataa,
Yuun naam bataaye bina kahaan Tu hasta hai,Tu apna naam bataa' . Now we have only m

His poem ‘assi von na kinhi ’ or ‘ not a word did we utter’  remains  one of the best poems representing fear, silence and plight of Kashmiri Pandits who were driven out from their homes and hearths in 1990.  In this poem,  Masarat is  forthright and direct in conveying the helplessness,  pain  and suffering of the people who were subjected to all sorts torment  and agony by armed militants and their cohorts .  I quote some lines from his poem ‘ assi von na kinhi ’ :-


(Sath paedh Ganz-ravith vethi taarikh aessi  vonn na kinhi...
Aeinn thopp dithh paantsalas khaarikh  aessi vonn na kinhi...

Kamzor zanaana adha  cheerikh
tim aarikash chhukh  last Panun,
Kaaras  ma vanhav aess maarikh
aessi vonn na kinhi...

Baarav dhyet dazavein naaran von
“Hey Saaf Kariekh” ,
Akhbaarav von “Naahaq maariekh”
Assi von na kinhi…..

Aessi thaasikh seenus deeniek kiell
taer khooni naalan braandhav peyth,
Aiess Issa zan Daaras khaarikh
Aessi vonn na kinhi....

Gaeli zeiv assi gayi aess kyaah vanahav
pyatha-kani aess  Shakuni Dhuryodhan ,
Zaareiv gyundh zaaras aess haariekh
Aessi vonn na kinhi…

Yeli Kiel thaasin mushkas sapidyov
Arssi haav  Ahimsa nav zagatas
Naeri pathkun thavi aessi Dyaka daarikh
Assi von na kinhi...

Yinna tohi baasiev vanunuyi pazihey
Yina ruswa baasivi paan panun,
Vaen vanhav vanhav kas maarikh
aessi Von na kinhi....)

I have translated the poem to simple English .

"After taking seven vows at the Satpadi,
we were driven across the  river Vitasta,
,not a word did we utter.
Blindfolded ,
they made us to go up
the  Pir Panchaal mountains,
not a word did we utter.

A frail and hapless woman was sawn
,what then ,
they are sawers and sawing  was their profession,
In this activity  if we are  killed ,
How dare we  say that they were killers,
Not a word did we utter.

The fire that burnt us,
kept complaining and crying :
“ Alas! they have been finished and wiped away”
The newspapers carried our story:
“ Innocents have been killed  ” ,
Not a word did we utter.

The  nails of the faith were hammered deep into our chests,
Our blood spilled in torrents on our doors and we crossed over.
Like Jesus, they nailed us to the gallows ,
Not a word did we utter.

We turned dumb,
What could we say otherwise
when Shakuni and Duryodhan became
masters of our destiny.
The dice players played their game
and lost us as their stake.
Not a word did we utter.


When hammering nails to innocents
became the order of the day,
a newer non-violence we taught to  the world.
Putting our hands behind our back,
We offered them our foreheads
Not a word did we utter

Don't ever feel that we didn't say anything,
complain not on this silence,
Who was there to listen to us?
To whom should we have told our woes.
Not a word did we utter."

The above  poem has been translated  into Hindi and sung by Lovely Chandra. The music has been scored by Brij Mohan.

( See at...https://youtu.be/vCD54QLtAgU )

                   





           

In his book ‘Mehjoor And After ’ published by Sahitya Akademi , New Delhi  (ISBN 978-81-260-2533-6 Price Rs125/=) , T. N. Raina has included a beautiful poem  ‘ Liar ‘ written by  Radhey Nath Masarat. Appearing at   page 128 of the book , this beautiful poem has been translated from original Kashmiri by T. N. Raina , the author of the book  .

 

‘THE LIAR ‘

 

My father’s soul rest in Peace !

He left this world for his heavenly home .

His words to me as he lay dying

Are engraved upon my memory .

“ My son never tell a lie .Cling to the

Skirt of the truth ” , he said .

“ Truth is whole ;truth will bless you .”

From that moment to this day

I have stamped on falsehood with an iron heel ,

And always kicked it away from me .

I bared my chest to the darts of the truth

With bleeding feet and grim resolve

I dragged myself on every path –

But the promised blessing never came .

Reclined against my wall today ,

I find a thought disturbing me :

I must go to my father’s grave ,

And tell him in the loudest tones,

“ You were the greatest  liar ! ”

 

About the poetic style of Masarat , T. N. Raina writes this :-

 

" Masarat uses mainly free verse, portrays the sufferings of the people and the loneliness weighing on his own mind."

 

Unfortunately, after 1990, i lost track of him. He died some days back but the impressions of his simplicity ,truthfulness and affection are simply indelible from my mind. To conclude this tribute, I quote some lines from his post 1990 poem.



"Vath seytha path path chha draamitch koat gatchhakh

Vath voguv hish vatna-aamitch koat gatcchakh

Vaeti vaeti nerakh magar vaatakh na kun,

Vath chha vaeti vaeti tsatana aamitch koat gatchhakh."



( Radhey Nath Masarat)



( The paths have drifted farther and farther

Where shall you go now?

These paths have been wrapped up like the reed-mat(Voguv),

where shall you go now?

Even if you tread through the laid down path, you may reach nowhere,

At every turn,

our paths have been dug and blocked,

Where shall you go now?)



( Avtar Mota)




PS


On 5th June,2021, poet Radhey Nath Masarat's poem "Aessi Von na Kinhi" was read by Anupam Kher in "Ek Sath" programme broadcast worldwide. The opening lines of the poem read this:-


                                "Sath paedh Ganz-ravith vethi taarikh aaessi  vonn na kinhi

Aeinn thopp dithh paantsaalas khaarikh  aaessi vonn na kinhi."


(After taking seven vows at the Satpadi,

we were driven across the  river Vitasta,

 ,not a word did we utter.

 Blindfolded , we were asked to go up the  Pir Panchaal mountains,

 ,not a word did we utter.)



No better tribute could have been paid to the memory of the poet who died in exile  far away from his motherland..


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