When I heard
the bad news about Dr. Brij Premi's death, I was shocked. He died unsung and
unwept. No bells tolled for him because all those who knew and loved him were
scattered and are still in disarray. Dr Premi's news of departure came as a bolt
from the blue to all his friends. He never deserved such a treatment at the
hands of nature, because he loved life.
died a martyr - a martyr due to exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from the Valley. He was
in deep love with his land and people but was made to say good to it. He
suffered in exile not for want of money but simply for breathing space. In his
heart he was agonised and succumbed to this agony. This fact shall go down in
the annals of times to come that exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from Valley deprived
them not only of valuables and belongings but also snatched away some brilliant
souls from amongst them like Dr. Brij Premi. Had he not been compelled to leave
his home and hearth he would have lived for many years more and could benefit us
with his ripe experience and overflowing pen. What a tragedy, our official
and non-official media remained tight-lipped about the untimely death of Dr.
Premi so much so that even a condolence was not offered. This is nothing but
the turn of events which speaks for itself. We had heard a lot about the
fraternity of pen pushers but all this proved a false dream at least in the case
of my angel friend, Dr. Premi who sacrificed his life at the altar of exodus.
meted out to this noble soul is the alarm of the events that have changed in
course of our thinking and approach. All through his short span of life he
showered flowers in the way of his friends, colleagues and writers but in turn
he was forgotten as if he never existed. Time is the great judge. On the touch
stone of time best and pure will show its worth and Dr. Premi will be given his
due place in the cultural and literary history of Kashmir. He had carved out a
niche for himself in the mansion of our cultural movement and there is none to
deprive him of his place come what may? Because sands are sure to settle,
glitter shall vanish and base is sure to be rejected.
To me Dr.
Premi's death is not simply the death of a friend. It is the loss of a man who
was close to my heart. It is the departure of a benevolent angel who was a
source of solace and strength for me. For the last thirty five years our
friendship stood the test of time and weathered all the storms which came our
I know it is
not a loss to me alone, there are many people who will remember him for a long
time. My personal loss is something greater, something that cannot be made up.
His departure has crippled me. I feel my right arm has been cut and sooner or
later I have to depart in my crippled state.
failed Dr. Premi for the last six or seven years. But his ill health never made
him to shun his love and affection for me. He would off and on come from
University campus for a chat or to discuss any problem relating to our personal
or cultural matters. Though he was not physically fit even then he was full of
determined to accomplish something more, something novel, which could add to the
knowledge of Kashmiriology. It was his earnest desire to complete history of
Kashmiri literature in Urdu. He had done some preliminary work in this regard
also but merciless jaws of death deprived him the opportunity to accomplish the
literary pursuits Premi was an infidel. In fifties Mantoo was a symbol of
reactionary forces to progressive writers, who were in full command of the
situation at that time. Premi on the other hand was all praise for him. He loved
Mantoo’s diction, treatment and style of story telling. It was this infidelity
which led him to select Mantoo and his writings, as the subject for his Ph.D
thesis. His love for this great writer knew no bounds. After the completion and
publication of his Ph.D thesis which won him a prize also, Premi wrote a series
of articles which appeared in leading Urdu journals and periodicals. He was, of
course one of the few scholars who have proved their mettle in the realm of 'Nutoiat'.
What Premi thought and believed in fifties came true after seventies when Mantoo
was declared undisupted master of short story in the sub-continent.
memories of the past are the only treasure now left with me. People of my hue
and colour are departing one after another. How painful it is that I am left
behind to lament and mourn the death of those who sprinkled honey dew on burning
soul as and when it was needed. It is not possible at this juncture to recount
all that which was shared and what transpired between us. It is the subject that
I will tackle at proper time separately. The wound is fresh and pangs pinching.
In this atmosphere at least allow me to control my tears, which of their own
accord come into my eyes when I think or talk about my best friend. Our
friendship was not the alliance of mutual bargaining or self interests, it was
an amalgam of heart and thinking.
appeared on the scene as a short story writer and ended his sojourn as a student
and a scholar of History, cultural folk lore, personalities of J&K State. It was
his research work which brought him honour and recognition. But this does not
mean that he was lacking in any way in the art of short story writing. I
remember it very well that his short story 'Sapnon Ki Sham' appeared in
Biswin Sadi, it was praised by lot of people and the author received at
least two hundred letters praising the treatment and art of short story writing.
was miles away from self glory and hypocrisy. He was all grace and compassion
for those who sought his help and sympathy. This short appraisal is nothing but
simply the recollection of some of the things I knew about Premi. I only long to
meet him again and enjoy his company for ever. I know my dream will not
materialize here, but, I am sure, we will meet again where and when that is the
question of destiny and time because I firmly believe in the transmigration of
*Born in 1936 at Badiyar Bala, Srinagar.
Poet, Writer, Historian, Researcher, Translator, Editor and Author of many books
in Kashmiri & Urdu languages. Sahitya Academy Award Winner. He was honoured with
Padmashree for his overall contribution to literature.