He was a trained doctor( cardiologist ) who also wrote short stories and Radio Plays . He rose like a shining star on the literary Horizon of Kashmir . A star that glittered for some time and then suddenly slipped into the dark ocean of oblivion . Like French writer Albert Camus and Noted Urdu poet Parveen shakir , this man also died young . And incidentally, he also died of Car accident. Died young to create some unforgettable characters and stories in kashmiri literature .
Alas! we kashmiris brushed him aside from our memory shelves . Our younger generation hardly knows even his name ;I am sure on this issue at least.
May be due to his Profession ,he was able to know human pain and suffering so intimately.He also came very close to the hopes and wishes of the individual sufferers. And accordingly, he carried a deep consciousness of Death that is apparent in some of his stories .For this reason, some critics are tempted to brand his work as Hospital Stories . On the contrary , even when Immersed in Pain and suffering , some characters whom he created ,are sharp ,lively and warm Individuals inspite of their physical inabilities and helplessness . There is Romance , hope and goodwill in most of his stories. These stories present a mirror image of life as it exists . The clash of old and modern values that always exists in any developing society is also evident in some of his short stories.
A careful study also reveals streaks of existentialism in his work . One can easily identify the profound loneliness and Native anxieties of Raj Nath ( From Lwoktchi Lwoktchi Kathhaa ) with those of Meursault In Camus’s Outsider .
He faced criticism also . Some critics said that some of his stories present Morbidity. Those amongst us , who have read Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s Novel “Cancer ward “ must not have escaped the overall Morose texture of this Great work. I still remember the gloom that the Novel gave me with its characters who are cancer patients , attending doctors and nurses . Gloom does not lower the status of this Great work . Even in Gloom we get a clear glimpse of hope in Solzhenitsyn’s Novel when Ahmadjan (an Uzbek ) recovers from the deadly disease.
Shanker Raina published his short stories in a Book titled ZIETNI ZOOL ( FIRE FLIES ). Vaen Kahinz Vaaer ( Whose turn is now ) , Haaput ( Bear ), Lwokitchi Lwoktchi Kathha ( Minor issues ) ,Akh Pazul Ta Kenh Insaan ( A riddle and some People ) and Hotchhmetch Yaaer ( Dry Deodar Tree ) are some popular and powerful stories from this collection . HARUD ( Autumn ) was a popular play that he scripted for Radio Kashmir Srinagar . Quite often, his language is flowery , poetic and emotional . I believe that Dr Shankar Raina would have been a very good poet had he Stepped into that form of creative activity.
Dr Abdul Wahid from SKIMS Srinagar informs me ,
“I have seen Dr. Shanker Raina in ward 3 of SMHS hospital Srinagar..those days Dr.Ali jan Dr. Verma,and other stalwarts like Dr.Khuroo were managing the ward..Dr. Raina had made his presence felt,and the his presence looked great..we had just finished our degrees..he was close to all of us..He came like a wind and left like a storm. we were plunged into grief.” Sh B L Kaul informs me ,
“ He lived at Kral khud and I remember him having a lean physique and wearing a Bulganin cut (goatee). As a doctor he drove an Ambassador car. I was impressed by his radio drama Harud -a father- in -law who has just retired buys a Saree of hay colour as a gift for his daughter -in-law. She is not happy with the colour because it indicates autumn- the stage of life through which the old man is passing. How true?”
Sh RK Zushi comments on my FaceBook Page,
“ Among others, Dr. Shankar Raina taught my best friend ever Dr. Moti Lal Bazaz, Drs. Rajinder Kachroo, Durga Nath Bhat and others. Quite a character. I did not know that he wrote stories and fiction. We used to see him come and go as we were strategically positioned, playing Chess in the Medicine shop, Hashias, bang opposite National Hospital run by Dr. Peshin.”
Adds Sh Bansi Raina from Pune,
“I was also privileged to have known both Dr.Shankar Raina and Amin Shakir.Dr.dreamed every thing big.His house at Rajbagh had huge dimensions. His very sign board at Regal Chowk was big considering doctors did not usually have such big sign boards. He wanted every thing in a hurry. I also acted in couple of his Radio plays. Yes…he would have grown and made it big in Kashmiri play writing.Tall man with Bulganin cut beard.”
Senior Journalist Mohammad Syeed Malik adds
“Dr Shanker Raina’s literary talent was marked by his intimate depiction of characters. He was a popular writer as much as he was recognized for his comment to medical profession. I knew him personally for a long time. His tragic death in a car accident in London cut short the story of life marked by struggle and hard work.”
In his story Lwokitchi Lwoktchi Kathha ( Minor Issues ), a reader comes across many issues that appear to be trivial and ordinary . Quite often we overlook them for their relevance and appearance to life. But we are finally led to believe that these very trivial matters form the very fabric of existence .
Raj Nath of Kharyaar Habba kadal is a wonderful character that he created for this story . The description of a clear day after night long heavy rains followed by evening time reddening of the horizon and thereafter a pleasant cool night gleaming with stars has been described with a poetic fervor in this story. A tired Rajnath wants to have a complete Saturday night’s sleep in this cool and peaceful ambiance but is kept awake by loud noise and singing in his neighborhood. A Marriage festivity accompanied by singing on Tumbaknaari Beats is in full swing over there .Accordingly he sleeps very late and gets up almost at noon. What to do with himself on a Sunday ? Raj Nath looks out from his Window and is happy to notice clouds over the mountains on an otherwise Sunny Day .He decides to visit Nishat Garden . For Raj Nath many trivial issues crop up as he leaves his house to go to Nishat Garden . These trivial issues , he confronts at the Bus stand , Inside the Bus , In the Garden and on his return in the shikara to Boulevard Ghat .A reader is engrossed from the very first Paragraph of this story.
His Untimely death in a road accident ( in England) , deprived kashmiri literature of this New trend and direction .A Great human being and a compassionate doctor was also lost in this tragic accident .He was a writer of Great promise .
Autar Mota is a Blogger , Translator and writes in English , Urdu , Kashmiri and Hindi. His write-ups have appeared in many national magazines and journals.