Monday, December 30, 2019




" Are you going to the book release function today?"

"Yes, Behosh Sahib has spoken to me at least thirty times. I will have to show my face just for ten  minutes. He needs to create a gathering. Although I don't understand poetry yet going to such functions is good for a change. You meet many people. And then I will get my book free even if I don't open it later."

" Who is the chief guest ?"

" Behosh Sahib had asked noted scholar Dr. Kokroo to grace the function. Dr.Kokroo asked for a copy of the book before conveying his yes. After he read the book, he declined."

"Why? What happened?"

" Some people say that Dr..Kokroo told the author to do social service instead of writing poetry. Possibly he found no purpose in what Behosh Sahib had written. He felt it a sheer wastage of time. Dr.Kokroo refused to write the foreword to another book sometime back. He told the author to smoke Hookah instead of writing poetry. People generally don't go to him now for writing forewords to their books. They say he is dry. "

" What purpose was Dr. Kokroo looking for?"

" Purpose! I don't know. But when ex-minister Shastar Sahib was contacted, he readily agreed to chair the event. Shastar Sahib assured Behosh Sahib that he will bring about 25 party workers as the audience. These workers are now taken by him to many literary events where Shastar Sahib is invited as chief guest. They relish sumptuous tea and snacks. It is always a high tea event if Shastar Sahib is the chief guest. These workers make a good audience for media coverage although they know nothing about the event or the other participants or the purpose of the function. They come for clapping and crying Zindabaad. Now that Shastar Sahib is coming, the menu for tea has been upgraded. You will have Paneer Pakoda, pastry, and patties with the tea. For Dr.Kokroo, the menu was simple tea and Tiger brand biscuits."

" What is Shastar, caste or surname ?"

" Neither caste nor surname, It is a Kashmiri word meaning iron that is tough and useful. Neither Hindus nor Muslims can live without iron. So it is secular. Shastar Sahib was toying with the idea of using Traam (copper) or Sartal (brass)  or Loi (bronze )  as his pseudonym but then Abdul Aziz and Mohan Kishen clarified to him that these metals were not secular. They also advised him against Sonn ( gold) or Roff(silver) as these metals don't get identified with his vote bank. Shastar Sahib was also writing poetry when he was idle. That is why he adopted " Shastar" as his pseudonym. After his first innings as minister of state for forests, he forgot poetry but he continued using Shastar with his name. "

" What is the price of the book ?"

" Price is fixed for things that actually sell in the market. Who buys  headache ? Now only day-dreamers publish their poetry books spending their own hard-earned money. When Rehman 'Kazaaakhteer' published his first poetry book titled " Gagur Ta Gagraai ", he raised a GP fund loan of 15000. He was expecting to recover his cost at least but unfortunately, not a single book could be sold. Roshan Gulab wrote a highly recommendatory review for 'Gagur ta Gagrai' in Sunday edition of the 'Daily World ' newspaper but it didn't help at all. He distributed 50 books free in his book release function. Out of these 50, about 40 were found lying on the chairs when the book release function was over and the audience had left. The security guards found these abandoned books when they closed the doors of the hall where the function was held. They felt helpless in dealing with these books . The residual two hundred fifty books were sold by his wife to a Kabaadi ( scrap dealer ) for 100 rupees. From this money, she purchased some snuff or Naswar (Naas in Kashmiri ) and threw the packet on Kazaaakhteer' s face saying:

'"Put this snuff in your nostrils. They are blocked. Now that you have finished your GP fund and can not publish another poetry book, this snuff will help in releasing residual poetry  from  your nose."

Rehman Kazaakhteer's friend Omkar Nath 'Vasvaas' also could not sell a single book of his poetic collection ' Nar Ta Narparistaan'. He had invested rupees16000 in printing 300 copies of 'Nar Ta Narparistaan'. The money had been received by him as part payment of his money back LIC Policy. Finally, his wife threw all these books into the big household garbage bin kept by municipality near their house and told her husband:-

" Better you put on a female dress and dance as Bacha in marriage functions. You will earn better. This is the only way to recover sixteen thousands  that you wasted."

Reading about  many book release events in the newspapers ,  Pragaash Kashmiri  also desired to organize a grand function for his forthcoming debut poetic collection “Tang Ta Tangdaar”. He approached Kanwal Kashmiri with his manuscript . Kanwal Sahib did  neither write  the foreword nor say a clear no to Pragaash Kashmiri . Thereafter he approached Gulzar Gambhir but he was told that Gulzar Gambhir had the  reputation of a  non-serious poet although he was using Gambhir ( serious )  as his Pseudonym. Finally, he sought help from his friend Ramzaan Rimshi who owned " Culture, Agriculture and Literature Upliftment  Society”  a government registered  NGO . Since the government had put embargo on funding of NGOs , Rimshi had devised a new business activity. He was working as all in one undertaker for book release functions. He would book auditorium in the name of his NGO , arrange audience, arrange refreshments and bring some persons who praised the book and its author. It was a package like affair for a minimum fee of  nine thousand nine hundred ninety nine rupees. He saved about 5000 from every book release function.  The auditorium with PA system was booked in the name of his NGO cum Society for rupees 1000 while tea and Samosa would cost another 1000 rupees. About 3000 rupees were spent on expenses connected with   bouquets, guest speaker  and some gifts for the Chief Guest and the Guest of Honour. Ramzaan Rimshi was always in the lookout of  writers or poets who wanted to have book release functions. He made good use of his PR and his social networking for this new  business.

 Ramzaan Rimshi helped Pragaash Kashmiri to get a foreword written by Jan Sahitya awardee poet Farmaan Shahi. Although Farmaan Shahi Sahib was well known to Ramzaan Rimshi yet he was initially reluctant to write the foreword after he read ' Tang Ta Tangdaar". But then Ramzaan Rimshi prevailed upon him  and also assured Farmaan  Shahi Sahib that he will  get his cataract operated upon by Dr.Achh-Noor absolutely free. Dr, Achh-Noor is a young ophthalmologist and a cousin of Ramzan Rimshi. Very reluctantly, Farmaan Shahi Sahib wrote the foreword. This is what he wrote :

" I have been asked to write the foreword for the poetic collection  'Tang Ta Tangdaar" and I shall do my duty with all sincerity and truth . Many idle persons have suddenly moved towards the literary arena these days. Some are retired employees while a large number of them have come from the trade and service sector. They are naturally ignorant about the poetic nuances, rhyme, rhythm, meter, and flow. They are ignorant about the skill of writing blank verse. For them, writing is like throwing color on canvas or playing on sophisticated musical instruments with naive fingers. What they write looks like haphazard streams of water moving in different directions incapable of flowing together with a focus to form a river. Never shall these streams form a river to merge into the ocean of literature. This is a fashion writing more drawn towards projecting their personality rather than serving literature or the language that they chose to express these random and irregular ideas. Pragaash Kashmiri is a poet of this genre.  Taaham (But Still ), this effort is not totally bad for a beginner and he has at least served his mother tongue even in an insignificant way . "

When Pragaash Kashmiri read the foreword, he was disappointed. He went to Ramzan Rimshi and expressed his displeasure. Ramazan Rimshi asked him to focus on the last line of the foreword especially what was written after the word Taaham. According to him, all is well that ends well and the last line in the foreword was worth preserving.  Ramzaan Rimshi didn’t want to lose this book release event of “ Tang Ta Tangdaar ” . This function  would bring him an earning of five thousand rupees minimum apart from making some new contacts for business promotion .  Without informing Pragaash Kashmiri, Ramzan Rimshi went to Farmaan Shahi Sahib and said:

" Sir, I came here with high hopes but unfortunately I am disappointed. With your foreword, this collection is surely landing in the trash bin . Kindly revise your foreword, for my sake, please Sir.."

To this Farman Shahi Sahib said:

"  You better go  to Krishen Kashmiri or Shiben Taarukh or Hassan Kalwaal or Nazir Noor. They also write forewords. They will write what you desire. Go to Gaffar Sangarmaal. Pay him three hundred rupees and he  will sign on the  blank paper. You can easily fill up your desired text for the foreword. A foreword by Gaffar Sangarmaal will be ideal for this book. I have written what I felt after I read " Tang Ta Tangdaar". This book will land where it should be after it is  published  . I can't add wings to it by my foreword. I don’t  find any merit in forewords . Why don’t you  have your book release event without this foreword formality ?  You are a marketing man and you know all the techniques. So many libraries buy books that are never opened. This can be another such book. Forget my cataract surgery. Let my second eye also develop a cataract so that I am never asked to read and review such books.   "

(Avtar Mota)

I am an admirer of good poetry in any language that I am comfortable with. It makes me happy. It relaxes my mind. I respect poets and writers. Poetry will continue to remain the finest form of human expression. I have many friends who are steadfast in writing what they feel even in the face of many constraints. I love them and have time and again come on my FB page reviewing their work with all my sincerity.
At the same time, let us admit that poetry is presently passing through a phase where it has lost major readership on account of so many reasons. The most important being that our society has started appreciating values of expediency and utility. We have started encouraging mediocrity in literature as well. This story is based on my personal experience after attending two book release functions recently. I don’t intend to present a sarcasm but simply mirror what I have seen and found around me. I feel it my profound duty to show where we have landed in the field of literature. Hence this story. This is a work of fiction. The names mentioned have no linkage with any person living or dead.


Creative Commons LicenseCHINAR SHADE by Autarmota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.
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