The message was clearly conveyed to me: “Sir, our beloved friend Hajini passed away last night at 10:45 pm. Our mutual friends like Dr Zaman Azurdah and others from Srinagar thought I should be informed. The news came like a thunderclap… for me, the morning twilight turned into darkness again.
The news shocked me and I felt that all my emotions had frozen. Traces of memories of time spent with Hajini in Delhi, Srinagar and elsewhere in the country flashed before my eyes, giving me a special feeling, a mixture of pain and relief. What a job Aziz Hajini was! His secular ideology, his nationalistic spirit, his endearing nature, his righteousness, his spontaneous love and affection for people were some of the virtues that had made me love him and many others close to him. I felt that all the virtues of the life he followed are now being left as a legacy for me and all of his loved ones.
Initially, I knew Hajini just as a poet and literary critic representing the Kashmiri language in Sahitya Akademi. In general, our conversations revolved around topics of common interest – issues in the literary arena, the positive aspects of writers who could take responsibility and perform.
Hajini has always shown his deep concern and well-being for my family. In all the years that I have known him, I had never heard a word of self-advertisement or self-praise for his poetic accomplishments or his critical thinking or any of the services he has rendered for the development of Kashmir, literary culture and education or whatever laurel he had earned.
My curiosity for him grew over time. My journey of curiosity about this interesting man finally ended when I caught up with all of his multidimensional personality – Hajini as a poet, essayist, literary critic, researcher, translator, playwright, theater expert, host. , filmmaker, teacher, pedagogue, academic administrator and above all a defender of the Kashmiri language and its culture. In addition to his literary output, Dr Hajini has served as Secretary, J&K Academy of Art Culture and Languages, Deputy Director, Academics, J&K State Board of Secondary Education, Research Officer, State Institute of Education, OSD, Cultural Department of School Education, Senior Assistant Professor, University of Kashmir, Media Secretary, Secretary and Chairman of Adbee Markaz Kamraz, a conglomerate of over 20 literary and cultural institutions, and members of countless committees, including the Sahitya Akademi Board of Directors.
Born in 1957 into a humble farming family in a village called Hajin in North Kashmir, his original name was Abdul Aziz Parrey took Aziz Hajini as his pen name. His innate potential for creativity, intelligence and interest in the Kashmiri language from his school years eventually led him to Abee Markaz Kamraz, a major institution to promote Kashmiri language and culture in 1975, at a junior level of ‘where he went to become his secretary and later his president. He made this possible through his hard work and deep commitment. During his tenure there, he tried to identify potential young people from different cultural fields, including literature, even from villages and remote areas. He believed that young people who are not even aware of their innate talent should be brought to light. Hajini’s involvement in the Kashmiri language and culture popularization movement took a giant leap forward when he introduced and established the Kashmiri language in the school curriculum of education from primary to university level.
Hajini is essentially a poet. Poetry was his first love. According to him, universal poetry is the expression of the fundamental human emotions common to the inhabitants of the earth. Over time, cultural aspects change, goals change, metaphors change, but basic human emotions remain the same. Hajini firmly believed that poets are the harbingers of peace, love and human values and are the legislators of humanity.
Dr Hajini became a literary critic not by choice but by the situation that demanded it at a given time. 700-year-old Kashmiri literature began with Sheik ul Alam and Lal Ded at 15e century followed by a long list of mystical and Sufi poets but had no canon or critical treatise. In addition, 20e century was the age of prose, with a tremendous increase in the writing of fiction, including plays and other prose literatures in the Kashmir language. Dr Hajini realized that one genre that was clearly lacking was literary criticism. He rose to the challenge of introducing literary criticism, which culminated in the publication of his iconic work Aene Khane, which later won him the Sahitya Akademi Prize. Subsequently, he also won the Sahitya Akademi Translation Prize for one of his translations. As a literary critic, Hajini believed that the reviewer should not be judgmental but rather should deconstruct the text to help readers appreciate it better.
It is always interesting for readers to know the first creative experience of a writer or artist. Hajini once reminded me of his first creative experience. “I was born in a village with our own farmland. I was in the tenth standard. My teacher gave an essay to memorize at home and present it to the next class. When I got home, I was told to go to our farmland to water them. After I finished the job, I opened my notebook and read a line from the essay. It was written: “In the spring, the birds sing and the streams dance in Kashmir”. I had to learn it by heart. Besides, I was sitting in the shade of a tree in which birds were chirping and a stream was flowing in front of me and I seemed to be dancing. I was hypnotized. It was my first crush on creativity. By the time I got home, I had memorized the essay and also wrote a nature poem.
Sweet memories of him haunt me again and again. My wife Margaret and I were her hosts for three days after a literary program organized by me on behalf of Sahitya Akademi on folk tales from Kashmir, Punjab, Himachal and Ladakh in Srinagar. I will never forget how much my beloved Hajini, who always called me his elder brother and my wife babhiji, entertained us. We have become part of his family. On another occasion, I remember taking a flight from Delhi to attend the wedding of her son Azhar Hajini. I was sitting next to Saifuddin Soz, former Union Minister of State for Culture on a flight to Srinagar. As we entered into the conversation, when I told him about the purpose of my visit to Srinagar, he was delighted to hear that I was going to the wedding of Aziz Hajini’s son and said he would join me for the wedding reception. He came the next day and spent time with us. It was a great opportunity for me to meet almost all political leaders, local ministers and the Union Minister for Home Affairs at the wedding ceremony.
Hajini was a popular figure in Kashmir. He was also widely known elsewhere in the country. He has maintained excellent relationships with almost all Indian writers of 24 Indian languages. I am sure that even after his demise he will continue to enjoy the same popularity for the monumental service he has rendered in the fields of education, culture and literature in general, and the language of Jammu. -and Kashmir in particular.
With deep pains of separation, I bid a tearful farewell to my beloved friend and brother Aziz Hajini… an airy name to sing.