A Captivating Debut Anthology by Rayees Ahmad Kumar
By Khursheed Ahmad Wani
Rayees Ahmad Kumar, hailing from the serene town of Berigam in Qazigund, Kashmir, shines brightly in the literary sphere. With a remarkable talent for writing columns, fictions, reviews, and poems in both English and the native language of Kashmiri, Kumar’s versatility as a thinker and writer is truly exceptional. His insightful pieces of writing, brimming with value, are regularly published in leading local newspapers. “Silent Voices,” his debut anthology published by the esteemed Shrihind Publications India, presents a collection of 25 exquisite poems, each with its own unique allure. This anthology, a true gem for poetry enthusiasts worldwide, is a testament to Kumar’s exceptional artistry. Silent Voices
The cover page of “Silent Voices” is a visual delight, striking the perfect balance between aesthetics and simplicity. Within its pages, readers will discover a treasury of gilt-edged poems, spanning various themes. This anthology holds immense value as a keepsake, appealing to poetry lovers from all walks of life. Kumar dedicates this cherished work to his late grandfather, Haji Habibullah Kumar, who held an incomparable love for him. Moreover, he extends his gratitude to the teachers who nurtured him from the earliest stages of his life and expresses heartfelt appreciation to his friends for their constant encouragement. In the proem, the author eloquently states, “Poetry has the power to illuminate and invigorate lifeless hearts, infusing them with enthusiasm and zeal. It possesses the transformative strength to heal the wounds of humanity, emerging as our closest companion during moments of solitude, guiding us towards logical thinking.”
One of the standout poems in the anthology, “Chinar,” gracefully flows onto pages 15-16, mesmerizing readers with its evocative ink. Through masterful use of imagery, Kumar conveys the profound significance of the majestic Chinar tree, an enduring symbol of Kashmir’s heritage. Rather than delving too deep into its depths, I recommend savoring this poem at your leisure. Rest assured, the experience will be thoroughly enjoyable. A particularly poignant poem, “Desperation,” graces pages 19-20, as the poet delves into the significant moments of his own life. Among them, certain memories weigh heavily on his mind, serving as agonizing reminders. Despite being born into a middle-class family, the poet realized his dreams through unwavering dedication and hard work. This poem reveals two distinct sections: one embodying prosperity and the other evoking desperation. Kumar aptly concludes this piece with the verse:
“Oh my Lord! Do show some mercy, Lest I shall be lost…”
Page 22-23 presents another noteworthy poem, aptly titled “Shiekh Hamza Makhdoom (RA),” paying homage to the revered Sufi mystic, Shiekh Hamza Makhdoom, also known as Makhdoom Sahib, who resided in Kashmir. The poet endeavors to capture the essence of devotion, seamlessly weaving together various aspects of the Sufi mystic’s life in a tapestry of carefully chosen words. Turning to page 25, readers will be treated to Kumar’s heartfelt ode to the “Barn Swallow,” known as Katij in Kashmir. The poet beautifully depicts the bird’s seasonal migration and all the associated elements in verses that resonate with emotion. Another captivating piece on page 30, titled “Song of Love,” invites readers into a realm of profound reflection and longing. The author poignantly expresses:
“I am shedding the blood through my eyes, Please come here soon.”
Kumar’s prowess as a poet shines through in his masterful composition, “Chillia Kalan,” found on page 32-33. This poem exemplifies his passion for employing vivid imagery, akin to the strength displayed by my esteemed instructor, Charlene Phare, an internationally acclaimed poetess hailing from the United States of America. “Kashmiri Kangri,” or “The Firepot,” showcased on pages 34-35, beautifully conveys the poet’s deep affection for his cultural heritage. It celebrates the exquisite creation that warms our bodies during harsh winters, while simultaneously acknowledging the indebtedness felt towards its ingenious craftsmen. On page 37, “Lialatul Qadar” transports readers into the realm of Islamic belief, where this sacred night represents the momentous occasion when the Quran descended from Heaven to Earth and the first verses were revealed to the Islamic prophet Muhammad. The poem eloquently illustrates the greatness and significance of this sacred night. Moving forward, the poet delves into the realm of personification in the poem “Tiger” on page 39. Through the voice of the tiger, Kumar weaves a captivating tale, recounting the struggles faced by the feline family in their fight for survival amidst nature’s grand tapestry.
With pages 43-44 dedicated to “Kashmir the Paradise,” often hailed as “The heaven on Earth” for its breathtaking beauty, Kumar paints a vivid portrait of his beloved motherland, passionately capturing the bountiful offerings of nature. “Spring,” found on page 46 and referred to as “Sonth” in the Kashmiri language, emerges as a season that breathes life into flora and fauna, dispelling the remnants of winter’s somber reign. It is hailed as the king of all seasons. On page 47, the poet presents “Woman,” a heartfelt ode that encapsulates the essence of women in the world. It depicts their unwavering strength during times of adversity, as they stand like monoliths, providing solace and fortitude to their families. “Teacher,” appearing on page 48, pays tribute to the educators who nourish the souls of their students, shaping their futures while imparting invaluable moral values. Teachers, the role models of society, leave an indelible impact on their students’ lives. The penultimate poem, “Solacer,” gracing page 49, beckons the birds of nature to serenade the troubled souls, alleviating the burdens of the mind and heart through their soothing melodies. Lastly, the final poem of the anthology, “Childhood,” on page 50, beautifully encapsulates the essence of this transformative phase, evoking the innocent experiences of childhood in a truly captivating manner.
Rayees Kumar showcases exceptional artistry in “Silent Voices.” Each poem possesses an enchanting quality that captivates and mesmerizes poetry lovers. With his masterful employment of imagery throughout the anthology, Kumar paints vivid snapshots in readers’ minds, forging emotional connections to this profound literary work. His command over poetic diction is striking, and his work resonates with the essence of literary realism. I extend my heartfelt wishes to Rayees Ahmad Kumar for the successful publication of this anthology and eagerly await his future creations. As an excellent book reviewer himself, Kumar has crafted a literary treasure worthy of commendation. May Allah SWT bless him and may his dreams reach towering heights of success.