Dr.Shiben Krishen Raina

Amin Kamil: A Prolific Writer, poet

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Amin Kamil, the renowned Kashmiri literary figure, was a beloved author, and I had the privilege of being acquainted with his work. Born on 3rd August 1924, he passed away on 30th October 2014, leaving behind a legacy of literary brilliance. Amin Kamil was not only a recipient of the Sahitya Akademi Award but also a Padma Shri Awardee, reflecting his immense contribution to the world of literature.

His remarkable collection of short stories, titled ‘Kathi Manz Kath,’ captivated readers with its profound themes and exquisite storytelling. Recognizing the merit of his work, I obtained his permission to translate most of these stories into Hindi. They were subsequently published in esteemed Hindi magazines such as Saptahik Hindustan, Dharmayug, Maya, Bhasha, and more. The story ‘Laag’ garnered immense praise from the Hindi literary community, with the editor of ‘Saptahik Hindustan,’ Sheela Junjunwala, publishing it in the very next issue due to its sheer brilliance. In my book “Kashmir Ki Shresth Kahaniyan,” published by Rajpal & Sons, Delhi, I have included two of his captivating short stories.

During the 1960s and 1970s, I had the opportunity to meet Amin Kamil several times in Kashmir. I distinctly remember his advocacy for the Hindi language, often emphasizing the need for Kashmiris to embrace it. He would say, “When Kashmiris have established a connection with India, why hesitate to learn Hindi? At least our children should learn this language.” Even though Amin Saab is no longer with us, his words continue to resonate with me.

Amin Kamil, whose full name is Mohammad Amin Nengroo (with Kamil being his pen name), stands as one of the most renowned literary figures Kashmir has ever produced. Hailing from the village of Kapran in South Kashmir, he embarked on a journey of education and enlightenment, pursuing higher studies at Aligarh. In 1945, he successfully passed the B.A. LL.B. examination, laying the foundation for his future endeavors. He practiced law for two years after joining the Bar in 1947. Subsequently, from 1950 to 1952, he served as a lecturer of Urdu at Government Sri Pratap College, Srinagar, before dedicating himself entirely to writing. His literary prowess spanned across various genres, showcasing his versatility and mastery in Kashmiri literature. Not only did he excel in short stories, but he also made notable contributions in poetry, drama, criticism, novels, essays, translation work, literary criticism, and editing. In 1958, he was among the founding members of the J&K State Cultural Academy, where he initially served as the Convener for Kashmiri language and later became an editor. For many years until his retirement in 1979, he edited the journals Sheeraza and Son Adab.

As already said, Amin Kamil’s literary achievements garnered significant recognition throughout his career. In 1967, he was honored with the coveted Sahitya Akademi Award for his collection of 58 poems titled “Lave Ta Prava.” Additionally, he received the prestigious Padma Shri Award in 2005, further solidifying his standing as a literary luminary.

In the preface to his story collection “Kathi-Manz-Kath,” Amin Kamil eloquently explains how he transformed thoughts that couldn’t manifest as poems into captivating stories, giving birth to his unique narratives. This collection comprises ten enthralling stories, which have garnered critical acclaim and a wide readership. Furthermore, his in-depth research aptitude shines through in his well-researched documents about prominent Kashmiri Sufi poet Nund Rishi (14th Century) and poetess Habba Khatoon (16th Century).

Among Amin Kamil’s most celebrated stories is “Laag,” which captures the essence of its time and continues to resonate with readers. This poignant tale beautifully portrays the yearning for a fulfilling life experienced by a dejected woman, finding solace and support in the compassionate embrace of a man, a compounder, who showers her with love and dedication.

Another remarkable story, “Potkal,” skillfully delves into the complexities of maternal desire. Through the portrayal of a married village girl, Amin Kamil explores deep into the character’s inner conflicts, vividly depicting her mental states and offering readers a thought-provoking exploration of human emotions. The yearning for motherhood forms the essence of this story.

Amin Kamil’s contributions to literature have enriched the Kashmiri literary landscape, leaving an indelible mark on readers and critics alike. His ability to craft compelling narratives across various genres has cemented his position as a literary luminary, and his work continues to inspire and captivate audiences to this day.

Ghulam Nabi Gowhar, a poet and novelist, referred to Kamil as “a genius” and emphasized his exceptional talent. He writes, “Kashmir has produced many greats, including multi-faceted personalities. But geniuses are rare. In my opinion, Kamil is truly our genius.”

It is regrettable that Amin Sahib did not receive the Jnanpith Award, an honor he truly deserved. During my tenure as a member of the “Language Advisory Committee” for the Jnanpith Award Committee, his name was recommended several times. However, the nomination process for the Jnanpith Award involves considering prominent authors from all major Indian languages, with authors from South Indian languages often taking the lead. Hence, some factors influenced the final decision.

Nevertheless, Amin Kamil was an exceptional poet, storyteller, editor, and essayist. Above all, he was a remarkable human being. The Kashmiri literature will forever be indebted to him for his invaluable contributions.

The writer is Former Fellow,IIAS,Rashtrapati Nivas,Shimla, Ex-Member,Hindi Salahkar Samiti,Ministry of Law & Justice(Govt. of India), Senior fellow,Ministry of Culture, (Govt.of India).

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