Kashmir katha

Eminent novelist Chandrakanta has been awarded the 2005 Vyas Samman for Katha Satisar


CHANDRAKANTA, born on December 3, 1938 in Jammu and Kashmir, is a well-known name in contemporary fiction. She received her higher education in Srinagar and at Birla Arts College, Pilani, from where she did Masters in Hindi literature. Her creative career began from the short story Khoon Ke Reshe (Shreds of blood), which was published in Kalpana in 1966. After eight years came her first collection of short stories Salakhon Ke Peeche (Behind the bars) and after further six years, first novel Arthantar (The Other Meaning) was published. Her seven novels, 13 collections of short stories and one collection of poems have been published till now. Among these, Poshnool Ki Wapasi (1988), Ailan Gali Zinda Hae (1984), Yahan Vitasta Bahati Hae (1984), Apne Apne Konark (1995) are particularly famous.

Katha Satisar is Chandrakanta’s mega-novel, published in 2001, which is written against the background of terror, violence, and atrocities in Kashmir Valley, described as heaven on earth. The Valley of Kalhan’s Rajatarangini is choked with the smell of explosives. The basic story of Katha Satisar is limited to the period 1931 A.D., but the novel’s entire canvas presents Kashmir with all its mythological-historical background. The plot of the novel begins with the episode of 1931, when the fundamentalist rage had wrapped the Valley in its fold. These events were repeated in 1947-48 and in 1989 it acquired a monstrous form. The ruling class neither pondered over it nor did it try to find an adequate solution. The terrorists’ tandava of looting, torching, killing and raping continued.

Pandit Ajodhyanath’s family is at the centre of the main story of the novel. Family members call him Tata with affection. There are many characters in the novel which include advocate Ajodhyanath, his two sons Shiva and Keshav, daughter Sonia, his grandchildren Katyani, Ragya, Nandan, Prem. These characters, while representing their own generations, are presented in the form of witnesses to the socio-cultural changes in Kashmir. The use of the proverbs and folk songs of the Kashmir region is fascinating.

Without raising the slogans of liberation of women, the novel significantly depicts the plight of women suppressed under the domination of men and suffering the consequences of terrorism, takes the side of women fighting their own battle through the characters like Ragya, Katya, Nasim, Khurshid, Neelu etc. Along with that, it raises questions related to the identity of women.

An efficient use of the flashback method has been made in the novel. Old Lalli, who is staying with her son and daughter-in-law in the foreign land, keeps listening to the piercing call of the fragrance of her Valley and the gurgling of Vitasta and in its pangs. She passes over the entire stages of her life during her final journey and the span of the story goes on expanding. The skeleton of he novel has been enlarged in an attempt to include the period and the life of many generations, but it has not done any harm to its intrinsic beauty and its communicative power.