Srinagar/Kashmir Reader: Prominent writer and poet Amin Kamil, who gave a new direction to Kashmiri ghazals and stories, passed away Thursday in Jammu. He was 90.
Born on August 3, 1924 in Kaprin village in south Kashmir, Kamil moved to Srinagar when he was a youth. He graduated in Arts from the Punjab University and took his degree in Law from the Aligarh Muslim University. He joined the Bar in 1947 and continued to practice law till 1949, when he was appointed a lecturer in Sri Pratap College, Srinagar.
Kamil was closely associated with the writers’ movement of that time and under its influence switched over from Urdu to Kashmiri as his medium of expression. He joined the Cultural Academy when it was set up in 1958 and was appointed the Convener for Kashmiri language. He later became editor for Kashmiri and edited the two journals of the Cultural Academy—‘Sheeraza’ and ‘Soun Adab’ with distinction for many years. He retired from the service of the Cultural Academy in 1979.
Kamil’s unique style of writing that blends irony, humour, social comment and politics in his stories as well as poems made him shine. He wrote in Urdu before switching to using Kashmiri as his medium of expression. Many Kashmiri poets were influenced by Kamil and tried to adapt his diction.
It’s believed that Kamil’s contribution to the field of fiction by his novel ‘Gati Manz Gaash’ (Light amidst Darkness), published in 1958, was inspired by the condition of Mohandas Gandhi in the aftermath of Partition where he found a ray of hope in Kashmir while the entire subcontinent was in darkness. This novel is the only book in Kashmiri literature which has records of the country’s historical events.
Apart from ghazals and short stories, Kamil wrote many plays and musicals for radio. His works majorly reflect on human life in Kashmir.
Kamil was the recipient of many prestigious awards, including the Sahitya Akademi Award, the Padma Shri from the Indian government and Kashmir University’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Recently, a two-day seminar on Amin Kamil was held in Aligarh Muslim University in which Kamil was recognised as a writer of national importance, transcending the boundaries of the vernacular literature of Kashmiri. Jammu & Kashmir Academy of Art, Culture and Languages published a special issue of its literary magazine ‘Sheeraza’ on Amin Kamil’s life and works which was released in Srinagar in the summer of 2011.
Kamil’s collection of short stories, ‘Kathi Manz Kath’ (Story within Story) published in mid-‘60s includes his most highly regarded work ‘Kokar Jang’ (The Cockfight). The Cockfight is considered as the most popular story in the Kashmiri literature. It has been translated into many Indian languages and has appeared in English translation in anthologies such as Indian Short Stories 1900–2000.
The Cockfight is prescribed in the school and university curriculum in Jammu and Kashmir. It has also appeared in Best Loved Indian Stories of the Century published by Penguin India in 1999.
Kamil’s demise is an irreparable loss to the field of literature.