Born in a small village, Naira in Pulwama district of South Kashmir, Naveed Parra is a lawyer by profession. 2008 unrest in Kashmir made him curious about Kashmir conflict and he began researching about it. Harnessing his interest in social and political activism Naveed is presently serving as a president of an NGO, The Confluence International Together for a better future.
Naveed’s co-author, Majid Majaz is a poet and graduate in Tourism Studies.
In an interview Naveed talks about his book, ‘The Dying whisper of a Never Born Child’ to News Despatch Associate Editor Sadaf Masoodi.
News Despatch: Tell us what The Dying whisper of a Never Born Child is about. How did you conceive the idea?
Naveed Parra:The Dying Whisper of a Never Born Child is a contemporary, literary fiction, a conflict based story with a twist of romance. This story is about an unborn child. He feels his mother, Nayeema’s pain, and grief and is obsessed with the suspense of such grief. There’s an Angel who’s sent by God in response to the utmost prayers by his mother, for his protection. Angel makes the unborn familiar with the enchanting beauty of Kashmir, who’s delighted to see the wondrous valley. But, the unborn remains yet discontented. Upon his insistence, this unborn is acquainted with conflict and violence, the valley has been engulfed in. Through the angel, he comes to know about the love story of his mother, Nayeema, and his Father Zubair, followed by eruption of violence in Kashmir.
I often talk to my friend Majid about Kashmir and other political discourses, and in the course of such conversation he always inspires me with his Kashmiri poetry, especially related to conflict.
While discussing about children in conflict, their pain and agony I thought to plot some stories in a book and make the pain and sufferings felt which the young of this state have been going through. Therefore I decided to write a book on Kashmir, last November (2017) and I shared this thought with my friend Majid who supported the decision. To lend newness in the form in which I would write I asked Majid to fill the stories with his poetry.
ND: How has the journey of writing the book been like, I mean the mental experiences of an author writing about conflict in fiction, is it more cathartic or adds to trauma as you may realize a lived pain of conflict even closely while writing about it?
NP: The journey was not easy because I was writing about a conflict story of which I am a part too. You would not believe most times while writing along with my Co-author and editor, tears would roll down our eyes and it would become difficult to carry forward the work many times. Furthermore, while authoring a conflict story, cognitive faculty cannot escape from the clutches of trauma, but I will not deny the fact that after completion of the work it gave me a psychological relief that my work became a part of contribution to my land.
ND:What do you think has turned youth more to writing fiction from the last decade and is it the same reason that you produced a work of fiction too? Do you think it’s beginning of some kind of a new literary tradition? How much do Kashmiris need it?
NP: Honestly speaking I have not read many fiction books before, but have read many conflict and historical books like “Kashmir: Disputed legacy” by Alastair Lamb, Kashmir Saga by Dr. Sheikh Showkat Hussain. So it would be injustice to comment on what drives the youth to write fiction from last decade, but the reason for me is that I tried to produce a work of fiction in order to make people across the globe understand the pain and agony of a Kashmiri child who suffers mentally, physically and emotionally from scourges of violence. Compelled by the gruesome circumstances, I felt an incumbent duty to put forth my work.
Obviously it is beginning of a new literary tradition in Kashmir, people are making use of pen to put forth their genuine anger and depression. Recently I heard of a young girl from South Kashmir’s Anantnag who has written a book about her struggle with depression. So, all such endeavors are setting trend for a new literally tradition.
ND: Do you believe that it’s not possible to write unless one reads extensively? If so how many writers have inspired you to write?
NP: There is not a straight jacket answer to this question but, reading sharpens our perception and it can automatically have impact on our writing. Being an average reader, I have not suffered in writing to that extent in absence extensive reading.
Honestly speaking, generally I have not been inspired by any renowned writers in this direction, except Alastair Lamb whose book on Kashmir I have read many times. But I take inspiration from my teachers.
ND:Your book being an amalgam of poetry and prose how much do you think following a ‘certain form’ of writing is important or important at all?
NP:Yes, my book is an amalgam of prose and poetry. The poetry of my friend and co-author Majid has infused a soul into my work. Talking from the perspective of “The Dying Whisper of a Never Born Child” it was important to mix the two to get the best flavour. If you have read it already you might have visualized that Majid’s poetry adds to the feeling of that agony. But to the best of my knowledge I don’t personally believe that certain form is needed to pen down books, unless it is for academic pursuits. While writing stories of conflict or other stories, a writer cannot be confined to the limits of sequencing. So ‘Certain form’ should not substitute the idea, but supplement it, otherwise the originality of writers idea is diluted.
ND: We’ve known people who wish to write but lack the confidence to begin, have you felt the same fear before you began writing the book and were there in addition any other apprehensions about authoring for the first time especially about conflict? If so how did you set the lack of confidence and/or apprehensions aside to embark on the journey?
NP: Lack of confidence to startup a writing project is the main reason which takes a person aback. During the early stages of this work I was quite confident about the completion of my work. But as I progressed other apprehensions took a heavy toll on my mind especially writing about conflict. I was afraid of the treatment writers, human rights activists and other vocal people have been getting lately in the country. I would often call Majid asking him to stop on writing, but nevertheless we would persist.
So to conclude I can see no path to success is easy, there are always ups and downs, but one should not lose patience to translate any dream.