Nakul Shivani/ New Delhi
Ummar Jamal, a young Kashmiri law student at the Kashmir University in Srinagar is in his own little way trying to being about positive changes in society. The 22-year-old Bandipora boy has caught the imagination of the youth and elders in the Kashmir valley by writing about the ills that plague the youth of the region – from drug addiction to mobile addiction.
The rate of Drug addiction is incessantly soaring
The way it is preying our youth can never be worth ignoring
It is what begets myriad cognate evils
It besmirches reputation and brings upheaval
Initially it entangles person victim in illusion of ‘lets taste once'
Alas! They don’t know soon they are becoming dunce
I have perceived kith and kin falling victim to it
I have seen how it snatched their wit
To uproot this menace practical measures are exigent
Now we can’t afford to be any more negligent
Ummar has been observing and writing on social issues and life in general since his school days. He initially wrote only in Kashmiri since that was the language that was closer to his heart. However, gradually in order to gain more traction he started writing in English. This gave him a wider audience, allowing his message to spread far and wide.
Ummar writes in Kashmiri and English
“Audience in Kashmiri was limited. I wanted more people to read my poetry, so I shifted to writing in English. It has given me access to more young minds,” he says.
Hailing from Quil Muqam hamlet in north Kashmir’s Bandipora district, he developed an interest in poetry since early childhood. His father, himself an avid reader encouraged him to read poems of famous Kashmiri poets.
“My father has been a great influence in my life. As a child I saw him reading a lot. That inspired me to read as well. And just like that, the reading habit turned to writing. I started enjoying writing more than reading,” says Ummar.
A product of Nadim Memorial Govt Boys Higher Secondary School, Ummar wrote his first poem in Kashmiri when he was barely in his teens. “As I grew older, I realised I needed to expand my horizon. I started reading Keats, Wordsworth, Shakespeare. They made me understand the nuance of English language and its beauty to express…express anything,” he says.
Yesterday when I looked at that Poverty - stricken girl.
When she was holding her begging bowl.
Lachrymose it made me after seeing her.
I rude why I couldn't provide her succour.
People insinuated her for Importuning.
And she exhorted for some pennies.
So that hunger of the days together she avoids.
People doubted her that she is masquerading.
Willy-nilly she still continued persuading.
Late night when I was pondering on bed.
This thought suddenly struck my head.
What if I were born a destitute.
Obviously, I too have been ridiculed by that snoot.
The decide to take this lesson with me forever.
Helping poor is every human's fundamental devoir.
Initially, Ummar wrote only for himself. He would hide his writings from people fearing a negative response. But gradually, he gained the confidence to approach local publications to publish his work. As his poems found their way to the pages of local newspapers and magazines, the number of his well-wishers grew.
With the encouragement he was getting, he also realised the power language and writing played in bringing about social change. He started putting more of his experiences to paper. He wrote about the dreams he had for the world.
“My poetry is different. It is about experiences. It is a medium to express myself. It also an avenue for people to think and change their habits, attempt to make the world a better place to live in for all of us,” he says.
"Poetry is a medium to express myself" - Ummar Jamal
With poetry came the natural follow-up work as an activist. Exuding maturity beyond the age of a college student, Ummar talks about the dreams he has for society as a poet, and a young Kashmiri.
Coming from a geographical part that has seen young minds easily influenced and destroyed due to the local social and political turmoil he “wants to bring about social change through expressions in poems. I want the downtrodden to be uplifted. I want to write so that there is fairness and equality in society. I want to write to bring heaven back to the valley,” he says.
Ummar has more than two dozen publish poems to his credit. There are many more tucked away in his notebook and even more hiding in his mind. “I want to compile all of them into a book.”