The extent people go for their love for words. An example is Farooq Shaheen who postponed his wedding to be part of the Bangalore Literature Festival (BLF). The Kashmiri author says, "After graduating, I had declared to a friend that marriage is not for me and that I am going to dedicate myself to writing. He told me about a girl he knew, and that if I ever set my eyes on her, I would instantly change my mind. That's exactly what happened. I fell in love at first sight. She eventually reciprocated," says Shaheen. A wedding date was fixed for September 28.
However, fate had different plans. A call from the organisers of BLF asking him to be in Bangalore on the very date posed a dilemma. Shaheen chose to accept the offer to come speak at BLF's Bhasha panel. When he broke the news to his fiancee, she was ecstatic. "It is a huge festival and an opportunity to represent Kashmir cannot be missed. Both our families are very happy. The wedding will now take place on October 5," says Shaheen.
Born in Batapora Langate, Kashmir, Shaheen has been writing poetry and critiques in Kashmiri and Urdu since his teens. He bagged the Yuva Puraskar Award at Kendriya Sahitya Akademi, in Delhi, last year for his book Gash e Malar. "I have critiqued the works of professor Rehman Rahi, who is a noted Kashmiri poet, translator and critic. The book touches upon Kashmiri culture," says Shaheen.
As a member of editorial boards of various literary journals in Kashmir, Shaheen says that Kashmiri writers don't get published much outside of their home state. "Young Kashmiri writers need to be encouraged," he says. According to Shaheen, the literary community in Kashmir has a long way to go. "Sufi shayaris very popular. However, not much has been written about the form. It needs better preservation.
Similarly, not many scientific texts have been translated into Kashmiri," he says. Of the Shaheen's discussions at BLF on Kashmiri literature and how it flourishes under the shadow of militancy, what should delight is his talk on Kashmiri language itself, including its unique vowels.