Truth as the Middle Path

  • Muneebur Rahman
  • Publish Date: May 14 2018 1:11AM
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  • Updated Date: May 14 2018 1:11AM
Truth as the Middle Path

Ayaz Rasool Nazki’s novel Satisar is a reflection on today’s political and cultural life.

 

Kashmir has witnessed an unprecedented interest in fiction writing in the last two decades or so. This concurs with an interest in the English language as the medium of expression, partly because of the changing milieu of literacy and partly because of a desire to reach the readership outside the Valley, especially the readership that matters when it comes to being heard. It seems to stem from an urge to tell the story of truth. Perhaps, the telling of truth is of paramount importance to a Kashmiri caught in a raging conflict. And fiction confronts truth with an urgency. Poetry, on the other hand, seeks to hide truth. Even when it doesn’t, it exaggerates it or renders it worthless. 

It’s against this background that we must look at the fiction emerging from the valley. In this era of untruthful media, it has given voice to a people who felt muted. Ayaz Rasool Nazki’s Satisar is an attempt to tell the truth, although in a sarcastic narrative. Several stories run parallel in the 174-page Satisar, which keeps the reader engaged at different levels and layers. 

Fiction has many modes available to capture the truth of the story being told, from setting to storyline, dialogue to language, description to character. Ayaz has chosen to use the names for his story’s characters from the history of the land to create the effect of a double-edged sword of irony. Kashyap, Budshah, Mulla Tahir Gani, Lal, Nund, Yousuf Shah, Todermal, Birbal are some of the names you will readily recognise. They are not just names but transposed characters. This transposition of historical figures as characters in the story makes this work a reflection of the mockery we see in today’s political and cultural life throughout the world. 

In Kashmir, where the literary qualities of a work of art are often overemphasised, perhaps because of interest in classicists such as Ghalib and Mir, and the influence of imported modernism. Removed from truth, poetry is overburdened by philosophy or metaphor. Fiction, if oversimplified as reality, tends to become literary journalism. But in Satisar, Ayaz walks the middle path. And the path he has chosen offers a rewarding journey to the reader. 

 

Muneebur Rahman publishes the Kashmiri literary magazine Neab from Boston, US