A collection of Nostalgic Stories

Avtar Hugami
“Sheen” (A Collection of Short Stories) is Vinod Kumar’s first book in Kashmiri language . Before that he has published a book in English titled ” Lal Ded – The Backbone of Kashmiri Culture” in 2018. An engineer by profession, Vinod Kumar is a budding writer of J&K who apart from his professional responsibilities devotes his leisure time to literature. In his new book “Sheen” he has depicted some heart touching moments and critical situations which the Kashmiri Pandits faced during or after their mass exodus from the valley. These situations have been given the touch of fiction by the author which is the novelty of the book. “Sheen” is full of interesting short stories.
There are fifteen short stories in the book. Er. Vinod has acquired the traits of fiction writing which includes plots, incidents, characters and language. Apart from this he has beautifully described the sentiments of different characters. In each short story of the book he has successfully carried forward the positive messages to the readers. For this I appreciate the efforts of the young author as this is the crux of short- story writing.
Vinod has spent his childhood in Kashmir. He has himself faced the brunt of forced migration at his young age. That is why his passion and longing for Kashmir is reflected in his short stories. Most of the short stories revolve round the social environment during the turbulent times and after the exodus.
These short stories are full of nostalgia. The plots of these short stories have been precisely described which apart from making them heart-touching, also indicate the literary caliber of the young author. This is Er. Vinod’s first effort in short story writing. It may be possible that we cannot compare this effort with the level of renowned short story writers, but it is appreciable that the young author has also started writing in his mother language.
In many short-stories the author has succeeded in understanding the human psychology in his own way. This has made the short stories different and interesting. For example in the short story titled “Taj Mahal”, he writes, “I again had a glance of the Taj Mahal and replied to Ali Mohammad. Taj Mahal is very beautiful.
There is no comparison. But today it made me to remember my own Taj Mahal (my ancestral home) which was constructed by my revered grandfather in Kashmir….. For me that ancestral home was not less than this Taj Mahal. But now neither that Kashmir nor that Taj Mahal exists for me.” In another short-story titled “Sheen” (which is the title story of the book), the author writes “while staying away from Kashmir, we badly miss our motherland and it is our keen desire to return back to our roots. Of all the relations, the relation with the ancestral soil is supreme.”
In the short stories of this book we can have a fragrance of Kashmir. Apart from this we can imagine the natural beauty of Breng Valley alongwith the flow of Bringi River. In a unique way, the author describes the area which shows the passion of the author for his native place. Theses short stories bring that background to the minds of readers which the author has described through depiction of the incidents.
The language of the book is simple and easy to understand. Since the author has left Kashmir at an early age, that is why he has chosen the simple language. Over a period of time, after continuous reading and writing the author can use a strong vocabulary existing in Kashmiri language.
The titles of some short stories have been beautifully chosen by the author which attracts a reader to read them. For example “BBC”, “Futvote”, “Crackdown” etc.
While characters, plot and language are important for short story writing, such stories should have a beginning, climax and conclusion. Moreover the writer should carry his own experimentation and experience upto the reader. If the writer ignores any of these elements, then the short story cannot be effective. Er. Vinod has very well taken into proper consideration all these elements and he has succeeded in writing good short stories. But too much nostalgia in these stories may not be comfortable for some readers.
According to renowned Kashmiri poet Sh. J.N. Sagar, ” for any writer the language is as important as the apparels for a bride.” One has to take it into consideration while writing. This is possible through continuous study and research of the literature. These are the two faces of the literary coin. If any writer ignores any of these two things, then his writing will not be effective. In this direction our young writer Er. Vinod is fortunate that he takes care of both (the continuous study and research). This will make him a successful writer in the times to come.
The beautiful part of the book is that it has been written in both Devnagri as well as Nastaleeq scripts. It is not an easy job to publish a book in two scripts, but by doing so the author has taken care of the entire readership of Kashmiri literature.
The book is beautifully designed in laminated paperback edition. The getup of the book is very attractive. Front page and back page justify the title of the book. The paper and printing is very good. Price of the book is Rs.300/- only which is justified for such a good book. But the Acknowledgement should have been clubbed with Preface or written after that and not before that.
We will hope that Vinod will pen down many more good books not only in other languages but in Kashmiri too.