Friday, July 24, 2009



 I read him liberally after a friend gave me a book of his english poems . Like many other kashmiris , Shahid also lived away from the land of his birth and painfully missed kashmir .

Agha shahid Ali was born in Delhi in 1949 and died at a young age of 52 in 2001 following a prolonged battle against cancer. SHAHID as was he known to his numerous friends and well wishers was a Kashmiri and illustrious son of an equally illustrious father Agha Ashraf Ali himself an accomplished civil servant who also had teaching stints at Jamia Milia university .

Agha Ashraf Ali was close to Dr Zakir Hussain president of India as also to Sheikh Mohd Abdullah in Kashmir . Agha Sahib still leads an active life and resides at Raj Bagh in Srinagar city. Shahid’s grandfather was a High Court Judge and later the only Muslim to be inducted as Minister before 1947 by the Maharaja .The family has Central Asian origin .Shahid ‘s mother Sufia Ali ( Nee Nomani ) was born in Allahabad and belonged to a family of Persian origin. SHAHID was educated in an IRISH CATHOLIC school in Srinagar. After graduating from Kashmir university , he did his Masters from Delhi University where he also taught later. (Incidentally one of my friends Mr Surrinder Nath koul Grandson of late Pandit Samsar Chand koul ( Teacher,. Writer and Bird watcher ) from Vaital Sahib Motiyar Rainawari confirmed that Agha Shahid Ali was his class fellow in S P College srinagar where he always presented himself as a shy individual . He was a favorite student of his english teacher Prof M N Dullo.) 

Shahid  went to USA where he earned English in 1984. T S Eliot was his favorite and he chose his Doctoral thesis on this particular poet only .

SHAHID considered himself a “triple Exile “from Kashmir , India and the USA but he described himself as a Kashmiri American. He received fellowship from Guggenheim Foundation. He also received the prestigious Pushcart prize. He held teaching positions at Delhi University and other universities of America.
Agha Shahid Ali is among the handful of post independence Indian poets to have gained international recognition as a writer of great originality and technical accomplishment . After having gone through his Book “ ROOMS ARE NEVER FINISHED “ One can easily relate to most of the poems wherein Shahid conveys the devastation of his homeland : his mother’s death in 1997 and the journey with her body back to Kashmir . One easily feels the touch of the wit and the sensiive poet's heart throbbing with compassioon for entire mankind after reading this book . Some o poems from this book especially “Srinagar Airport” or “one day I shall sit on the pavement” or “ in the Exodus I love you more “or “on our last evening on this land “ are touching and overflowing with powerful and spontaneous emotions of the poet. This book of poems was a finalist for 2001 National Book awards in USA.

Another book which also follows the trail to Kashmir , His childhood home is “A COUNTRY WITHOUT A POST OFFICE” . SHAHID has done superb translation of selected poems of FAIZ AHMED FAIZ in his 102 page book “THE REBEL’S SILHOUETTE “. The Poem Mere Qatil Mere Dildar Mere Pass Raho has been translated to perfection.


The UNIVERSITY OF UTAH Department of English has announced honouring the memory of this celebrated poet by awarding “ AGHA SHAHID ALI AWARD FOR NEW WRITERS “annually to writers in English language .The university of New York announced that it would establish annual reading in his name. It shall go as a long tribute to the memory of this bright poet and son of the soil should the university of Kashmir also announce creation of AGHA SHAHID CHAIR in the department of English . We in J&K can at least do this little for this fragrant flower plucked by the cruel hands of destiny in his prime youth. As per AMITAV GHOSH his friend , "SHAHID kept his mother ‘s memory and the love for the land of his birth close to his heart even on his death bed ". we should have perhaps given more recognition to this utterly beautiful, humble, subtle intellectual, whom Amitav Ghosh calls the closest that comes to being called Modern Kashmir's Tallest poet.

I have also uploaded two views of Old zero Bridge and Raj Bagh Area leading to Shahid's ancestral house in Kashmir . So Long so much . More to follow.

 Peace be to his soul .
( Autar Mota )
All photographs bear copyright and may not be downloaded for reuse or reproduction without specific permission of the blog writer .


  1. Great poet and the genius in all dimensions with honesty

  2. Yes . Shahid ali is surely a great Poet.


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