Monday, 13 July 2009
Dear Professor Malik
13 May 2007
Dear Professor Malik,
I read your masterly essay on Wordsworth's Ode (Intimations) with great joy this morning. It was as if we were sitting across each other and discussing poetry like we always did. Yours is the opening essay in 'Literati.'
Even in 1998 when I visited Srinagar and fell in love with it, you used to tell me as we walked back from the school, that my poems would one day emerge from their chrysalis. I did not believe you then.
But today as I send you the reprint of my book 'Last Bus to Vasco: Poems from Goa'(2006) I realise the truth of your vision. Over the almost 10 years since we have met Sir, poetry has sustained me and made me a kindred spirit in your presence.
I have your sublime words etched in my CUP diary of 1998:
'Kas nadanist ki manzil-gahe maqsood kujast
In qadar hast ki bangi jarase me ayad.'
[No one knows of the ultimate destination
We only hear the tinkling of the caravan bell.]
The caravan of poetry over 20 years of my life constitutes the 50 poems in 'Last Bus to Vasco.' Fortunately I had recorded all my poems by typing them over the years. Your gentle encouragement helped me see value in my work then. After several attempts at publishers doorsteps I decided to self-publish my book, taking care of all the aspects of production, printing, and editing - also marketing and distribution. It has been a great experience.
Meeting your sons Rouf and Ihsan was a pleasure during my 2005 visit. Rouf especially spent time with me as we visited the nearby gardens and walked among the chinars. Ihsan has seen Goa with his own eyes - I hope my book and the audio CD give him the spatial/aural landscape he can relate to. Rouf's wife also is very amiable and we met during Rouf's Delhi visit. He has a fine career in the Department.
This year OUP gave me a promotion. I am now 'Senior Editor.' But if you like the work - reading poems! editing literary stories for children - then the raise is only the icing on the cake really. Still, it feels good to be recognized for your work.
My dad is doing well in Goa. He was recently in hospital for bronchitis but is recovering at my brother's place. My sister is happy in Pune.
Thank you so much Sir, for believing in me that I could come this far in life. I am now working on my Delhi poems which I hope to publish by the end of the year. Meanwhile I continue to write and hear the caravan bells . . . Regards to your Mrs.
A few moments back I met my dear friend Professor G R Malik, retired Head of Department, Department of English, University of Kashmir, Srinagar. I handed him this letter written in May 2007 which I had not posted and which I have transcribed in this blogpost. Somehow it took me back to those years which have now rolled by . . . I also presented him my autographed copy of the first edition of 'Last Bus to Vasco.'