SRINAGAR: On her first death anniversary, novelist poet Tarannum Riyaz’s Urdu novel was published in English by Niyogi Books. She had died of Covid19 on May 20, 2021, almost 41 days after Riyaz Punjabi, her husband.
The novel Birds of the Snows depicts changing times in Kashmir from a rural to a more urban way of life, depicting a Kashmiri family and tracing the life of Sheba, a young woman who chooses a career over matrimony. The novel also explores the mother-daughter relationship, women’s freedom and the search for self-fulfilment. The novel was originally written in Urdu with the title Barf Aashna Parindey.
“We were deeply saddened by the loss of Tarannumji during the Covid pandemic. She was a very talented poet and writer, and her voice will be missed. Though Tarranumji passed away during the course of the production of this book and was unable to see the printed copies, its completion is our sincere tribute to her memory,” Trisha De Niyogi, Director and COO, Niyogi Books, said. “Birds of the Snows evocatively describes childhood in Kashmir, capturing beautiful images of the landscape, the changing seasons, the customs, food and birds of the region. The author has crafted a coming-of-age novel that depicts a young woman’s search for fulfilment.”
“Tarannumji was a good friend, with whom I often interacted during my days at the Sahitya Akademi. A well-known Urdu poet, she was a regular in many of the Akademi’s multi-lingual Poets’ Meets,” publishing house’s editorial director Nirmal Kanti Bhattacharji said. “With a mellifluous voice, she recited her poems with enough feeling to carry the audience with her. Her passing is a loss to the world of literature, but she will live on through her work. We are privileged to publish her translation of her Urdu novel.’
The novel traces the journey of a family in Kashmir and primarily the life of their daughter, Sheba, as she studies and discovers her own path. Sheba wishes to be free, just as the birds that she likes observing, but understands the need to live within social conventions and accept life’s responsibilities.
Exploring women’s freedom, the mother-daughter relationship and social mores, the author skilfully interweaves several poignant narratives. While studying at university, Sheba takes on the compassionate task of looking after her professor, when he is afflicted by a stroke. She engages in this humanitarian role with her college batch-mates and continues alone after they move on in pursuit of their professional and personal goals.
This deftly translated novel depicts the changing times in Kashmir, from a rural to more urban life, the impact of modern thinking, and through its portrayal of female characters explore their compassion and resolve, as well as their search for self-fulfilment.
Dr Tarannum Riyaz was a Urdu writer, critic, poet and translator. Born and educated in Srinagar, Kashmir, she had master’s degrees in Urdu and Education and a doctorate in Education. She was the author of more than 20 books of fiction, criticism and poetry. Her works have been translated into many national and international languages. Her writings are prescribed for research and studies in educational institutions of India. She had also been a visiting lecturer at many prestigious educational and research institutions in India and abroad.
She was a former Senior Fellow with the Ministry of Culture, Government of India and had received many awards for her work, including the SAARC Literature Award (2014), the Jammu and the Kashmir Academy for Art, Culture and Languages for the Best Book Award (2008) and the Delhi Urdu Academy Fiction Award (2006). Dr Riyaz has also participated in many national and international conferences and seminars.