A good start | Great Cashmere
Kaeshri Shuir Adbuik Tawareekh (History of Kashmiri Children’s Literature) is written by Ghulam Nabi Aatash. The book was released in 2020 and is published by Ali Mohammad and Sons, Srinagar. The book is a welcome addition to Kashmiri literature in general and children’s literature in particular. It traces the history of children’s literature in Kashmir from 1947 to 2020. It contains five chapters excluding a foreword. It covers the different genres in which children’s literature has been written. For example, theater, novel, short story, essay, informative literature, religious texts, etc. The whole range has been incorporated for an in-depth reader’s experience. Each of these elements is substantiated using samples from respective writers.
The author states that prior to 1947 there was no outstanding children’s literature. When the Kashmiri language was introduced in schools in 1949, attention turned to certain aspects of Kashmiri literature, including children’s literature. However, due to the political unrest of 1953, Kashmir was withdrawn from the program. At that time, essays were written on this literature. Dina Nath Nadim wrote an essay “ soan ginduin ta droakuin ” in 1955, in which he referred to folk songs, and was published in a magazine. Konga posh. Ali Mohammad Lone wrote a scholarly piece on Kashmiri folk songs, in which children’s songs were also mentioned.
A prominent name in the history of children’s literature is Ghulam Ahmad Fazil Kashmiri (1916-2004). Although he wrote for all age groups and took advantage of it for his writings, he was the first writer to pay special attention to children’s literature. He has written several books of children’s poetry, such as “Shamma Wattan”, “Nigaehban”, “Daleela” and “Duayi Masuum”. For girls, he wrote songs emphasizing the virtues of a good life. The general orientation of his writings was on the love of humanity and moral development. Some other prominent names in this genre are Naji Munawar, Ayub Sabir, Sheikh Raazi and Rasool Poanpuir.
The prose writing process made a late entry into the Kashmiri language. There is hardly any prose text available before 1947. The little text present was written by foreigners. One of the texts is Tales of Kashmir written by Hinton Knowles in 1887. These tales were later translated to Kashmir by Bashar Basheer, and the Cultural Academy published this collection of tales in 2020.
The process of writing short stories began in the fifth decade of the 20e century. Lots of standard short stories have also been written. However, no real effort has been made to write short stories for children. There is no doubt that some short story writers have come out occasionally with stories that have been enjoyed by both adults and children. However, they were not originally intended for children. It was only in the last eight to ten years that some people began to write exclusively for children and broke the proverbial ice in this area. Some of the short stories by Amin Kamil, Akhtar Mohiuddin, and Rattan Lal Shant are read by children in the 14-18 age group. Some of these stories have also found a place in the school curriculum. After them, a number of writers wrote short stories with children as the target readers in their minds. Farooq Masud is also one of them. Ghulam Nabi Aatash also wrote short stories about children. They were published in the “Noav Kehntcha Meintcha” collection. Particular care was taken to meet the needs of the specific age groups for which the stories were intended.
The author believes that a children’s book should quickly grab the attention of children. It must have a tempting format. The cover of the book should be attractive and the use of illustrations and images should be a mandatory part. I can add here that there should be a note of optimism in the story with a revealing moral. The short story of Russian writer Maxim Gorky is an example of children’s story, full of everything they need. It was translated into Kashmir by BA Shah under the title “Tchaeri Baccha” in 1976. There are sixteen pages of history. Of these sixteen pages, there are only 53 short lines of content. Along with the image on the cover page, there are 34 images that “show” the meaning of the story. The number of characters is also small. There is the main character “tchaeri baccha”, the second is the mother of “tchaeri baccha” and the third, a human being.
Regarding the genre of novel, the author claims that there are only about twenty novels in Kashmir. However, a good number of novels from other languages have been translated in Kashmir. For about seven decades the romance in Kashmir could not develop, so it was logically out of the question that there could be novels about children. Even novels about children from other languages were not translated. Hamid Siraj wrote a sixty-four page novel, “Haari Jang”, in 2011. The author believes that this is a good start to writing a children’s novel. There is nothing in this novel that would distract children’s attention.
The book under discussion is a brilliant addition to the evolving genre of children’s literature. This is the first attempt to write a history of children’s literature. It is a comprehensive account of this literature of different genres. The author has already written children’s books which have become popular, and also won the appreciation of critics and lay readers. Author of around four dozen books, Ghulam Nabi Aatash is the recipient of the Bal Sahitya Puraskar and the “Main Award” from Sahitya Akademi. This book should arouse interest in children’s literature and open up a new field of research.