Mansoor Ahmad Mansoor: Doyen of Urdu Resistance Literature in Kashmir-Dr Ashraf Lone

File Photo: Mansoor Ahmad Mansoor

Resistance and protest is intrinsic to any literature. It has been there from time immemorial. Even most critics claim that literature is basically all about resistance and protest. But this is half truth as most of the romantic literature is not about any resistance if we analyse it in the modern sense of the meaning of resistance. We all know that after the arrival of postmodern theories , like post colonialism and feminism ,meaning of resistance and resistance in literature has attained new proportions. In Urdu literature too , after the 1857 revolt of undevided India against British Empire,   literature attained new dimention especially after the Aligarh Movement and Altaf hussain Hali’s acclaimed book of criticism “ Muqadama Sheir O Shairi” (Preface to the Poetry). And from the beginning of the 20th century , we see Allama Iqbal, Prem Chand, Brij Narain Chakbast, Krishan Chander, Ismat Chugtai, Saadat Hasan Manto etc who are pioneers of the resistance literature in Urdu. And now  we see a lot of resistance literature coming up from conflict zones and Jammu and Kashmir is no exception to this.

            Mansoor Ahmad Mansoor is one of the writers of Urdu in Jammu and Kashmir who not only has  suffered the oppression and pain of the Kashmir conflict but depicted this pain and suffering of this hapless nation in his short stories and other writings as well. Everybody is aware of the fact that Jammu and Kashmir is going through the worst situation from last 3 decades. Everybody at the hands of forces and occupation has suffered here. Grenade, bullets, pellets and other warfare words are on the tongues of children which has badly affected these innocent kids  psychologically and our society as a whole. But this nation has not bowed before the oppressor and has always resisted, offering every kind of sacrifice.

            Mansoor Ahmad Mansoor in his short stories and essays has depicted the pain and sufferings of a common Kashmiri very stirringly and artistically and has captured most volatile but important phase of Kashmir’s history. “Kashmir: Khwaab,Saraab,Gardaab”( Kashmir: Dream,Mirage and Vortex) and  Yeh Basti Azaabu Ki”( This Settlement of Calamaties) are two important books of Mansoor which capture the agony and sufferings of Kashmiris, facing from last 30 years or so.

In this writeup, I am going to discuss Mansoor’s short stories and these according to famous scholar and critic of Urdu Literature Mohammad Zaman Azurdah are “Mansoor Marsiyaas”, elegies in prose.( Marsiya: elegy, a poem of mourning, which is now specifically associated with the tragedy of Karbala).

            “Khwaab, Khaak aur Khoon”(Dream,Dust and Blood) is a kind of short story in which Mansoor Ahmad Mansoor has depicted the condition of Kashmir , of which every Kashmiri is prone to. To live in fear and terror has become the fate of every Kashmiri:

“That’s why just after the sunset people start to put off the lights and go inside their homes. Tougues turn dumb and mute. Ears are stuck with walls, waiting for the sound of the boots. On hearing this sound , people feel terrified, bodies tremble and teeth start to chatter”

            So artistic that for a moment, those state of affairs comes to our memory and through which every Kashmiri has went. The character at some point of time in the short story says:

“  The signs of graves will vanish”

            Isn’t this sentence a true depiction of circumstances and tragedy of this hapless nation when we have thousands of unmarked graves and in these even signs of some have vanished and now we have “un-named graveyards” also.

Khwaab Aur Taqdeer”(Dream And Fate) is  written in fable form. In this, a story of piece of a land has been told where demons with their exploitation and oppression have made the life of the masses hell:

“ Then Jalodhabava created a stir in Sati Sarr. Plunder,arson,rape,and killings and murders became routine. Water was dashing against the hights of mountains. Jaladhabava ruined everything and turned Sati Sarr into a killing field.”

            There can’t be better description than this in symbolic way of this hapless land as has done in this short story by Mansoor Ahmad Mansoor. After feeling tired of killings and other oppression , the young men of this land go in search of medicine to put a halt this disease (oppression) as they feel that there isn’t any other option left now to end this disease(oppression) and then to relish and enjoy the air of freedom.

            Jaladhabava re-emerges again and then starts the same old story of oppression and exploitation. And till date it continues and we see how flowers are being trampled every other day.

            After reading Mansoor’s short stories, we feel a strange state. Take any story , from the very first paragraph, those scenes and tragedies come before our eyes , through which every Kashmiri has gone. But the beauty of these stories is that there is no loudness of any sort, rather Mansoor has depicted these tragic scenes in a very soft tone and artistically. And reader is being taken itself into those winds which are blowing here  since many decades.

            From last 30 years the state of affairs and the prevailing circumstances have affected every individual psychologically. Oppression and injustice has driven thousands of young to the path which is full of thorns. In search of destination thousands have offered sacrifices in this path but that hasn’t moved and shaken the conscience of rulers yet.

            In the short story “Ek Dhoop Thi Jo Saath Gayi Aaftab Ke”(The Sunshine Which Went With The Sun), Mansoor has told a story of “Laalaa” whose single son goes missing suddenly from his house and joins the ranks of those young who put up resistance to the oppression and occupation. Before his son can return to home, Laalaa breathes his last and his son is not able to shoulder the coufin of his old father. There are thousands of stories like this in every corner of this oppressed land. Here are thousands of Laalaas whose dears went missing in the same way and who had also dreams about their sons. The dialogue between the protagonist of the story and Laalaa goes like this:

“Laalaa: When will you come out of this graveyard of the past,…. one day I insisted,” “ When my dear will return to home.” Laalaa replied briefly in lacuna.”

But we see that Laalaa dies before his son could return and his dear son misses his janaaza. This story represents those thousands of real stories of this land, which and whose characters we find in every corner of this oppressed and hapless land.

            “Sindh Bad Jahazi Ki Dairy Ke Chand Awraaq”(  Some Pages of The Diary of Sindh Bad Jahazi), is wriiten in fable style(daastanvi usloob). The sentences of 5th page deserve much attention:

“ After making rounds of streets and markets of the city, it clearly looks that there is too much anger brewing in  new and young generation against “Khawaja Sagg Parst” and against those who change their stand and colour like a chameleon  and this anger  can erupt at any time  like a volcano.”

And this volcano of anger and resistance erupts in 6th page. What happen to Sindh Bad Jahazi, can be only known after reading the full story.

            Mansoor Ahmad Mansoor has wriiten these short stories very artistically in a symbolic, fable style and in traditional style too. These stories are our stories and these characters are from among us. In short the book, collection of short stories “ Yeh Basti Azaabu Ki”( This Settlement of Calamities) holds a prominent place in the resistance literature of the Jammu and Kashmir.

Dr.Ashraf Lone is a leading Kashmiri scholar and intellectual who did his PhD from JNU,Delhi.
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