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An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri


Dina Nath Nadim

Dina Nath Nadim
Dina Nath Nadim (1916-1988)

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The death of Mahjoor and Masterji closed one phase of Kashmiri poetry. With Nadim's poetry, a new phase was introduced. Some people claim that Kashmiri poetry is currently passing through an era which may be termed "the Nadim era".

Nadim was born in Srinagar in 1918. He grew up in poverty. His father died when he was a child, and his mother raised him by herself. His mother had a great influence on him. She was illiterate, but very wise. While working at the spinning wheel, she would recite Lal Ded's sayings to Nadim.

Nadim pursued his studies in great poverty and hardship. He received his B.A. degree in 1943 and obtained his B.T. degree in 1947.

From his childhood, he was interested in politics, freedom and progressivism. He was deeply influenced by the ideas of Bhagat Singh. His poetry is full of these ideas. The following is illustrative:

Burn and burn like a colorful field of la:liza:r!
Roar and roar like a waterfall!
You are fire
A furious fire of burning youth
Come out
And cross the hills and dales
Raise a storm!
Be a storm!

Another specimen is:

Why should the share of a laborer
be taken by a capitalist?
Why should a honey bee
circle the flowers and take away their honey?

Nadim introduced various poetic styles into Kashmiri. He was the first Kashmiri poet to write in blank verse, bi g'avini az, "I Shall Not Sing Today", is a good example of it.

In the beginning, Nadim composed poetry in English, Hindi, and Urdu. But then he wrote only in Kashmiri. Nadim used the Kashmiri language in his poetry with great grace and craftsmanship. He depicted the beauty and the poverty of Kashmir in all of his poetry. The following is an example:

A lost stray cloud
Floating aimlessly with the moon
As if a beggar woman holds a leftover lump of watery rice
In the corner of her headcover.

Nadim has also composed poetry in the folkstyle. In these folk poems, he has portrayed the dreams and longings of Kashmiris. The following is illustrative:

ya: sa:hi hamda:n,
ya: sa:hi hamda:n.
Are we human?
Who says human!
The winter is ahead of us
The pocket is moneyless
The hovel is roofless
And the law is chasing us
Do you care?
I don't care!
ya sa:hi hamda:n,
ya: sa:hi hamda:n.

For several years Nadim taught at the Hindu High School. After independence, he was appointed the Assistant Director of Social Education. In 1971, the Russian government gave him the Nehru award. He has also been a member of the Sahitya Academy. He has travelled to Russia, China, and some other countries as well, Nadim has been greatly influenced by communism and by progressive writers.

His poetry has contributed to Kashmir's struggle for freedom. Nadim also wrote the first opera in the Kashmiri language, entitled, bombir ti yembirzal "The Bumblebee and the Narcissus".

Nadim has greatly influenced the young Kashmiri poets of today. Kashmiri poetry is still going through the Nadim era.

The Song of a Boatwoman from Dal Lake

by Dina Nath ' Nadim '
I got these crisp and fresh from the dal
hay valay, come and buy! hay valay, come and buy!
These are tiny eggplants, and these are round gourds,
hay valay, come and buy! hay valay, come and buy!

These are peppers, and these are brinjals.
The brinjals are like pitchers of wine
banging their heads in this boat of mine.
hay valay, come and buy! hay valay, come and buy!

The crisp bundles of radishes are glittering
in the shade of weeds,
The red marsh turnip is blushing like a blushing beauty
as if the dawn has blossomed into flowers.
hay valay, come and buy! hay valay, come and buy!

May dust fall on you! Stop it!
You have taken enough now.
I know, dear lady, I cannot blame you,
for the high prices are crushing us all now.
Let me go!
Come on, lend me a hand with this basket
I really must go now.
hay valay, come and buy! hay valay, come and buy!

What can I tell you, dear lady,
My child was born only last Thursday.
Though I didn't feel up to it, I dragged myself out
and left my little one behind.
It was painful to leave him away from me.
hay valay, come and buy! hay valay, come and buy!

My little one!
My little one is pale like a radish,
My little one is pale like jasmine,
My little one is naked and nude, shivering and cold
like a lump of ice.
My little one is crying and crying,
the tears roll down from his eyes
like drops rolling down from lotus leaves.
hay valay, come and buy! hay valay, come and buy!

My little one's nose is like a lotus seed,
Just like his father's nose;
My little one's face is tiny,
just like his mother's face.
To us both he is like a lotus,
sprung from the mud of dalay hay.
hay valay, come and buy! hay valay, come and buy!

Lo' I seem to hear a baby cry;
Lo' I seem to feel a sensation in my breast.
My heart doesn't seem to be here now,
Dear lady, I must really go now.
hay valay, come and buy! hay valay, come and buy!

Reproduced from:
An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri
by Braj B. Kachru
Department of Linguistics, University of Illinois
Urbana, Illinois 61801 U.S.A.
June, 1973


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