Woman student-editor stirs Kashmir’s young creative minds

Saba Nazki [ Photo : Kashmir Observer]

By Ruwa Shah

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Srinagar : In search of space for political dissent in the trouble-torn Kashmir Valley, 23-year-old Saba Nazki and a bunch of youths have started a tabloid — “Mizraab” — exclusively for students to give vent to their creative expressions in the form of stories and illustrations.

When Nazki flew back in 2014 after completing her graduation from Delhi University in English honours, she said there was “no space” in the Valley for intellectual creativity as existed in the national capital where art, theatre and writing used to be her daily fare.

The first issue of the 16-page fortnightly “Mizraab”, funded by local newspaper “Kashmir Observer”, is a collection of students’ writings, illustrations and poetry.

“Kashmir not only has beautiful landscapes but is also rich in terms of art and literature. And it is so unfortunate that we do not have any space for expression. Kashmir is poetic. Students here need polishing and a platform for expression. Thus, Mizraab,” Nazki, who never intended to be a journalist, told IANS.

Titled appropriately, “Mizraab”, a Persian-origin Urdu name for fiddle-stick or the plectrum with which musical instruments like the sitar or rabaab are played, is a platform to stir the hidden creative minds of the valley.

“Mizraab for me is to instigate art and channelise intellectual space. In Kashmir, even student politics is mostly banned. We need to create our own space,” said Nazki, the founding editor.

Pursuing her masters in English literature from Kashmir University, Nazki has involved fellow students, invoking in them the sense of writing.

The first edition published earlier this month is a mix of Kashmir’s art, culture, history and linguistic treasure. For example a column, “With Love, To Aga Shahid Ali”, remembers the life and works of the renowned Kashmiri-American poet.

It also has illustrations by students of music and fine arts. There is a column called “Til-waer”, which literally means an oil-dispenser, but is a phrase in Kashmir used for a woman who wanders from door-to-door.

“Tilwaer” will be a collection of words and brain-picking idioms and phrases no longer used in spoken Kashmiri. The idea is to recollect “with a tinge of sarcasm, humour and wit” the lost linguistic treasure of Kashmir.

“Dancing in Wilderness — of longings, divinity and catharisis” creates a link between Kashmir’s ancient women poets like Lalla Ded and Habba Khatoon and their present-day counterparts like Naseem Shafai — the first Kashmiri woman to win the Sahitya Akademi Award in 2011.

However, Nazki said the tabloid is not only about art, literature and culture.

“Art and culture is only the prism. I intend to showcase Kashmir’s life in various ways,” she said, adding that the tabloid uses art as a metaphor. “It includes satire and showcases conflict as well.”

She said she got 2,500 copies printed for the first edition. All of them were distributed to students free of cost. But from the next edition, each copy will be priced at Rs 5.