Masroor Muzaffar recently bagged the prestigious national award for his poetic collections. He is the youngest Kashmiri to receive the ‘Sahitya Akademi’ award. Now, the 26-year-old poet says he has decided to dedicate his entire life to the preservation and promotion of Kashmiri language.
He says mother tongue forms bedrock of identity for any given society and it is imperative that younger generation speaks and expresses its emotions in the native language.
The young poet was conferred with the ‘Sahitya Academy’ award for his maiden poetry compilation ‘Wavich Bawath’ (the laments of the wind). He is already a recipient of another prestigious award--The Indian Excellence Award for Literature, 2020.
‘Sahitya Akademi-Yuva Puraskar’ is one of the highest literary honors in India, conferred by the forum to the writers below 35-years of age who have contributed to the Indian literature in any of the scheduled 24 languages. The award carries prize money of Rs 50,000 along with a plaque and a citation.
While expressing jubilation on winning the award, the young poet says that the Kashmiri language has given him honour and he intends to return it by working towards its preservation and wide-scale promotion.
“While this award fuels me with pride, it also puts a duty on shoulders, i.e. I need to work for the promotion of our language, because sad as it is, our younger generation is not inclined towards speaking or writing in their mother-tongue.”
Masroor believes that it is through the aid of mother-tongue that any given society preserves its heritage, culture, and identity. “Our whole identity as Kashmiri stands on the bedrock of Kashmiri language. Without our language, we are nothing,” he adds.
He says that generations come and go, but if those generations fail to carry forward their identity, they end up becoming nothing, so he feels that it is imperative to protect the Kashmiri language.
The Kashmiri language is one of the 24 scheduled languages of India and features at the fifth spot on Indian currency. It is a Dardic language, considered if not the oldest, but at least a very archaic language that developed around the time of Sanskrit and Tamil.
Keeping in view the significance of the language, Masroor advises the younger generation of the valley to not only speak more often in the Kashmiri language but also express their ideas and emotions in their native tongue.
“It is important that our youth try to write short stories, poetry, and other fictional and non-fictional works in their native language because else, the language would go extinct and we would lose our identity.
“Our distinct identity is our language,” the young poet adds, while hoping that more people would come forward to share his passion and enthusiasm.
The young poet is deputy president of ‘Humsukhan Cultural Forum’ and General Secretary of ‘Dayiri Adab Bangil’, both literary organizations that work for the preservation of the Kashmiri language in the valley. He is also a general council member of ‘Adbee Markaz Kamraz’, the largest Literary forum here. Apart from being a poet, Masroor is also an activist and a literary critic. His other book on ‘Criticism of Modern Kashmiri Literature’ is currently in the publishing stage.
He says that it was grief in the first place that led him to the written word. Masroor’s mother passed away during his early childhood and it was the grief of being an orphan that fashioned his sensibilities and later on vented out in the shape and form of his poetic verses.
“After my mother’s passing, I was drawn to poetry. Ever since I was a child, I used to attend the children’s programmes on Radio and TV at Doordarshan Srinagar. After qualifying my intermediate, I began to jot down verses in a very formal manner and was recognized as a serious poet thereof,” he says.
Masroor lives only one kilometer away from Tilgam, a village that has produced some of the very fertile poets of Kashmir including Ranjuur Tilgami, Fayaz Tilgami, and Shubnum Tilgami. He says that the company of poets and writers from Tilgam fairly influenced him to tread the literary path.
He says a school teacher also influenced him to work on his art.
“In my school, there was a very affectionate teacher named Mumtaz Gophbali, he was a poet and would recite his couplets in the classroom; it became a huge inspiration for me to pursue poetry.”
He regards inspiration as the key aspect in the lives of the artists. He says artists should be helped in every possible way to focus on their art. “Art is a means of salvation for human existence.”
After finishing his Master's in Kashmiri from University of Kashmir, Masroor went to Aligarh to pursue Ph.D. in Kashmiri language under the supervision of Prof. Mushtaq Muntazir.
Masroor, a resident of Tangmarg’s Kralpora; a remote and idyllic village in district Baramulla, is the first person from his entire village to pursue education at the university level.
“The only goal that I have in my life is that after I finish my Ph.D. I would dedicate my life to our language and promote it through my art, poetry, and writings,” he adds.
Most of Masroor’s writings reflect his love, worry, and admiration for the Kashmir valley and its people, and usually writes in the genre of realism.
Masroor wants to inspire not by the example of his power, but by the power of his example.