Srinagar Is Not Kashmir:Mirza Waheed


By Iymon Ganaie | Photos by Bisma Tenzu

Baramulla, July 2: “We had functions in Srinagar but Srinagar is not Kashmir. Baramulla, Sopore, Kupwara is.” With these words Kashmiri writer, Mirza Waheed, started the reading of his debut novel, The Collaborator at Government Degree College, Baramulla.  A small but enthusiastic audience of students and faculty attended the reading of journalist turned writer Mirza, who read some paragraphs from his novel.

The reading started with the first chapter of the book, The valley of yellow flowers.  After the reading session, an interaction session started during which the writer answered questions, of audience, about the book. When asked why the narrator of the novel was unnamed, he answered, “I did not create a man or a person in the novel. I created a voice”.  Waheed further elaborated his character and said, “He (narrator of the novel) will not choose metaphor or an allegory as he is only 17, 18, or 19 (years of age) in the novel”.

Saying that he tried his novel to be graphic, Waheed added, “There are different ways to show it. You can show houseboats, Mughal gardens deserted to show violence”. When a faculty member asked him why he has used blue colour so often in the novel, Waheed answered in a one-liner, “I love blue, simple as that…The book is colourful, red, blue orange…”

To a query about his writing, he answered, “Ellipses is the better word for the writing I want to do”.

Mirza Waheed replying to audience questions.

For the second reading from the novel, Waheed asked the audience if they wanted him to read a particular chapter. “The Milk beggars,” a student demanded the writer to read. Waheed started reading the chapter, saying that “the chapter is close to his heart and a tribute to the women of Kashmir”.

During the event, four documentaries, directed by Wasim Wani, an artist and Assistant Professor at Aligrah Muslim University, were also screened. The event was thrown open by Mustaq Ahmad Wani, principal of the college by welcoming the guests. In his brief address, he said, “These programs or seminars are organized to provide more opportunity to students to know more.”

He further said that it was a rare opportunity to have Mirza Waheed reading from his novel in the college. Head of English Department, Asiya Shah praised the novel and said, “Through the book, we saw early nineties.”

Mirza Waheed watching the documentary, screened during the event.

After the reading and the interactive session concluded, the debut novelist signed the audience’s copies of the book. He then interacted with some students of the college about writing skills. Waheed told the students that a writer should be independent. “He should not write story of a particular man”.

Waheed also said that he is currently working on his second novel but would take up the sequel of The collaborator after that. Waheed advised the students, “read, read and read.”

Waheed said that his Novel or the memoir Curfewed Night by another Kashmiri writer, Basharat Peer got noticed because they were in English but the literature does not end there. “A lot has been written in Kashmiri also. And I do not want to take credit from them. Zareef Ahmad Zareef, he is writing about Kashmir for decades.”

You may also like to read: The Collaborator of Kashmir valley.

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