Prose/Short Stories

Dheeba Nazir grew up in down town area of Srinagar. Dheeba learned Kashmiri language and literature at the University of Kashmir. She was inspired by her teacher, Naseem Shafai, a famous poet of Kashmiri. Dheeba has written several articles and short stories.

They Aren’t Them.
I was wakeful until the dawn and kept tossing and turning the entire night. I was eagerly waiting for the sunrise because it was a Sunday and I had to go to my grandmother’s place. My mother shouted from the other side of the house, “Put on your clothes quickly before we get late.” I could not gather my wits in my sheer excitement. The whole thought thrilled me to my spine and I quickly donned all of my new garments, blinded and breathless! The moment we stepped out of our compound, a neighbor suddenly ran into us and asked curiously, “Where are you headed so early?” I replied, “To my g-r-a-n-d-m-o-t-h-e-r-’s place!” “Oh ho! Grandmother’s place!” He replied gleefully. “No doubt there is nothing sweeter than the shade of your grandparents.” My mother would often narrate me tales of her own mother. She would say, “If only my mother knew that her daughter has borne a daughter, you would see how she would have cherished you. This was because she had had an enormous fondness of children. Our home would even serve feasts to the roadside vagrants and panhandlers; let alone the supreme hospitality for the kindred. Neighbors had even nicknamed her Raja’ Maas’ out of sheer love.” My mother sternly warned me along the way not to be mischievous there. I readily agreed and assured her that I certainly won’t. I had my cousins there, the children of my maternal uncle. How I loved playing with them! We boarded an auto and nevertheless reached there. The door was bolted from inside. I thumped it very hard with sharp and quick blows, impossibly impatient. “ O ho! Who’s that?” My aunty came out saying. “U came over? We are leaving. We are leaving to Pahalgam. You should have called before dropping in!” My mother enquired in half disbelief, “But; aren’t others in?” “No. We are all scheduled. First, you shouldn’t be a guest Sundays! Sundays are meant to be holidays for everybody.” She spurted it all in one long complete breath. And, did not even ask us to get in. We sat on the verandah outside on our own. Meanwhile, she rushed to us with a lock in her hand. Out on the road some woman from neighborhood saw us leaving, and asked my mother “Why did you leave so early? You came just now.” My mother replied, “Your own parents are your slaves even without remuneration.” That day, I was too innocent to understand what she said. When we walked further, a drop of water suddenly dripped on my hand. I lifted my gaze, only to find my mother sobbing silently. I asked, “What makes you cry, ma’ma?” She replied, “I had forgotten that They aren’t them who were my family.”

Excerpt from They Aren’t Them translated from Kashmiri by Taha Mughal

Professor Neerja Mattoo is one of the eminent scholars of Kashmir. Professor Mattoo has translated several poetry and prose texts from Kashmiri into English.

                                            THE SEARCH
Dusk was falling as I arrived at the SRTC stand in Srinagar . I was a stranger to this city. I saw an auto and asked its driver whether there was a hotel nearby. Asking me to get into his auto, he drove off and brought me to what was called the Jahangir hotel. I had two jobs to do in this city. The next morning I rose early. The hotel being in the middle of the city, loud noise of traffic was inevitable. I lifted a corner of the curtain and looked out-big vehicles , a flyover, children in uniform being dragged along by their mothers carrying their satchels. I was reminded of own childhood. Everyday I used to----- I walked out of the hotel and asked a passerby to guide me to a bus that would take me to safakadal and Habakadal that is where I was going. He pointed to a crossing in the distance, saying that was where I would find the right bus. I found a place in the bus . The passenger next to me was speaking on his mobile phone, telling somebody that he was going to DOWNTOWN, maybe it was the name of a locality in the city. The conductor called out, safakadal and I got down . There was a bridge in front . Crossing it I looked down and thought it must be the veth flowing under it. Yes, it is the veth, I said aloud. “what is that you said?” a man dressed in a suit and tie was asking me, “it is the Jhelum river, my son” he corrected me . I smiled and said, “Jhelum it may be to you, but it is the veth.”

Excerpt from THE SEARCH translated from the original Kashmiri by Neerja Mattoo


Everyone had forgotten that fateful day. It was twilight and the rumour spread suddenly that a servant-lad had made a pass at the Zaildar’s daughter, Fota. The whole village was overwhelmed with an ominous silence, a deathly stillness fell over the land. Even the dogs ran with their nozzles thrust towards the heavens, as though they were cursing God Almighty for having created them to see this day. My wife and I were stricken dumb. We could not speak to each other. With trepidation we awaited the burst of the Zaildar’s anger. He was not the person to take it lying down. And, could he, in sooth, ignore it? How dare a ragamuffin, fed on the crumbs of the Zaildar, insult his darling daughter, Fota? The very thought made me quake and with me seemed to shake my cottage and my village.

Excerpt from THE HOURI OF PARADISE (Sourgi hoor) by Akter Mohi-u-din, translated into English by Neerja Mattoo