Chitral Today
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The land of mountains!

By Nisar Ahmad Shah

GARAM CHASHMA, Dec 26: Celebrating Mountain Day! Isn’t it a novel idea? Indeed it is. The role of media, civil society and educated youths in highlighting important issues like preservation of biodiversity, wildlife, culture, deforestation, global warming, basic legal human rights, extremism, disaster management, and welcoming migratory birds deserve to be applauded. Different organization like, CHEPS, CAMAT, Relief International, Hashoo Foundation, LAPH and AKDN institutions are periodically organizing awareness programs. A dedicated team of MEIR has recently introduced Khowar Calendar; I salute all of them.
Celebrating Mountain Day depicts the animation of our esthetic sense and our love for natural beauty. Definitely we would also love the beautiful wildflowers, lash green valleys, crystal clear streams, trout fishes, snow fallings, and the melodious December long nights. Imagine cold winter nights; sitting around fireplaces, eating dry fruits and listening fairy tales or the story of a bird (Boiko Shilogh) from old loving grandmother; oh we love them all. We are blessed with land of fairies and snow wearing gigantic Hindu Kush mountains; so we observed Mountain Day. I dream, one day, we will observe ‘Bulbul Day’, ‘Gulchin Day’, ‘Mayon Day’ and ‘Markhor & Margast Day’ as per our own Khowar calendar!
Hey, hold on, we are not alone in advocating romanticism. There are great names like Baba Siar, Ziarat Khan Zirak, Nadirul Mulk, and the list goes on. Ghalib, Mir, Faiz and Faraz. In Europe, John Keats (1795-1821), William Wordsworth (1770-1850), Lord Byron (1788-1824) and P.B Shelley (1792-1822) were the greatest English romantic poets and champion of the Romantic Movement (1750-1850).
French novelist and philosopher J.J. Rousseau (1712-1778) has equally discussed ‘romantic feelings’ along with ‘reason and rational thoughts’. Alexander Pushkin was a great Russian romantic poet. Alessandro Manzoni—the Italian novelist—whose famous book ‘The Betrothed’ is a romantic tale of two young Italian lovers whose marriage is prevented by a local cruel man. But none of them I wanted to elaborate today.
Khalil Gibran (1883-1931), a legendary Lebanese-American writer, who has a great contribution to the modern Arabic romantic poetry that stressed on the role of nature, imagination and emotion. Gao Xingjian—the author of ‘Soul Mountain’ and the first Chinese-born winner of the 2000 Nobel Prize for literature –  was partly inspired by his tour through rural Chinese villages and among the peasants. Even ‘Soul Mountain’ is not the focus of the day; rather I would love to tell you a story about an old poet of the land of mountains!
Rasul Gamzatov (Hamzatouf) was born in Dagestan in 1923. He was one of the most prolific poets of his region. He wrote 20 books of prose and poetry in his native Avar language (spoken by only five lac people). Then their translation into many languages won him millions of devoted readers. In 1959, Gamzatov was declared a People’s Poet of Dagestan. His literary work includes Fiery Love and Burning Hate (1943), Year of My Birth (1950), Dagestani Spring (1955), My Heart is in The Hills (1959) and the lyrical novel My Dagestan (1967-1971).
The Republic of Dagestan (the land of mountains) is southernmost part of Russia and in the North of Caucasus Mountains. Its border touches Georgia, Azerbaijan and Chechnya. In 1999, Islamic Chechen militants led by Shamil Basayev and Ibn Al-Khattab, launched a military invasion for “independent Islamic State of Dagestan”, but they were crushed by Russian forces. Russia reinvaded Chechnya later that year.
The life of the people of Daghestan has been the theme of Rasul Gamzatov writings. “Daghestan,” he says, “you are my love and my vow, my supplication and my prayer. You alone are the main theme of all my books and all my life”.
Rasul Gamzatov was more inspired by Russian writhers, Pushkin (1799-1837) and Lermontov (1814-1841). He studied at the ‘Gorky Institute of Literature’ in Moscow; taught in his village school for a short time. Gamzatov was awarded the prestigious State Stalin Prize in 1952, The Lenin Prize in 1963 and Laureate of the International Botev Prize in 1981. The wonderful poet of the land of mountains died on 3rd November 2003. For him, motherland is like a mother and foreign country like a mother-in-law; “I have nothing against mothers-in-law, but there is no Mother but Mother.”
The total population of Dagestan is about 2,910,249; out of which 90.6% are Muslims, and remaining are Christians. The area is 50,300 Sq.KM; there are over 1,800 rivers, and the estimated potential of Dagestan’s hydroelectric power resources are 4.4 billion kW. In January the average temperature: +2 °C while in July it is: +26 °C.
Being a celebrity and a famous poet, Ghamzatov had to visit many countries of the world, including America, Japan, Brazil, Cuba, Morocco, India, Pakistan, Turkey, France, Thailand, Indonesia, Russia, Bulgaria, England, Romania, Belarus and many more; but his love for mountains, mountains flowers & birds, mountain herders, mountain eagles, small beautiful lambs, horse saddles, local folk music, and his passion for the local poet Abutalib Gafurov never became vague.
He says: “My Aul (a tiny mountain village), my mountains, my Daghestan! You are the nesting place of my thoughts, my feelings and my aspirations. It was from that nest that I took to the air as soon as I became a fledgling.
 All my songs come from that nest. Daghestan is my hearth, my cradle.” Maya Angelou (an American author & poet) once said: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” To give you a taste of Ghamzatov’s poetry, I would love to share a page from my personal diary:
15th February: “Today, I finished up ‘Mera Daghestan’; Oh my God! What a wonderful book, and what a loving poet of the land of mountains”… In the same page ahead:
“Agr aik hazar mard tumhari muhabbat mai mubtala hon tou,
Yaqinan Rasul Hamzatouf un mai sy aik hoga.
Agar ‘aik saw’ mard tumhari muhabbat main mubtala hon,
Rasul Hamzatouf…un mai Zahir hai zaror shamil hoga.
Agr das mard tumhari muhabbat mai mubtala hon tou,
Rasul Hamzatouf un mai sy aik hoga.
Sirf aik mard tumhari muhabbat mai mubtala ho tou,
Tou wo Rasul Hamzatouf k siwa or kon ho sakta hai!
Agr tum tanha akaili ho…
Or koi bhi tumhari muhabbat mai mubtala nai hai…
Tou yaqeen kr laina k…
Kehin buland paharon mai…Rasul Hamzatouf mr gaya hai!!!”

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