Lyrical Triumph

She rises from difficult circumstances and uses her power of poetry to gain national recognition. Mudasir Majeed reports.

Years of hard work and creativity have finally paid off for 35-year-old Shahzada. She is thrilled for being conferred with the National Sanskriti Award. The young woman grew up in the remote village of Daril-Ramhall, in the frontier district of Kupwara, and she has been writing poetry under the penname of Shahida Shabnum.

“My thanks are to Allah, the only sustainer; for rewarding and responding to hard work, patience and sincere prayers of His true believers. For a writer, there can be nothing more joyous and important than the felicitation of his or her work in his/her own lifetime. My heart is full of delight after experiencing this proud moment”.

Shahida says she has been fond of Kashmiri since she was a child, and that’s why she chose Kashmiri as her core subject. She pursued a Masters’ degree in Kashmiri at Kashmir University, and was awarded three gold medals.

“Whether I was in the university hostel or at home, my time would pass in just studying. I would stay in the library for hours, reading different literature. My friends would often complain that I would spend less time with them and more time in the library. Honestly, I would feel upset at that fact, but happy too, because I was pursuing a goal and my hard work bore fruit,” she said.

Shahida went on to pursue her M.Phil in the Department of Kashmiri at KU, and completed her research ‘Feminist Strands in Kashmiri Poetry, A Critical Study’under the supervision of Prof Rashid Majrooh. She is currently pursuing her PhD at the Institute of Kashmiri Studies, and has also worked as editor with the weekly Meeras.

The Kupwara native is married and has two children. “My husband has been a real guide, who has shouldered every obstacle that has come my way. Be it the assistance in attaining firm footing in my subject or encouraging me to focus on poetry, my husband has been the unflinching influence behind it all,” she says.

Shahida has a good hold on Urdu and English, but says that Kashmiri is a perfect medium of expression.

“It’s not possible to express one’s emotions and feelings pellucidly in any other language. I feel Kashmiri language has a vast and rich vocabulary for the formulation of one’s ideas and inklings. I am greatly stable and satisfied for making my own language as a source of my expression,” believes the award-winning poet.

Shahida credits her early appreciation and interest in poetry to her father. “My father had great zeal and curiosity towards literature. He would write under the pen name ‘Roshan’.His poetic work mostly comprised of encomium (A formal expression of high praises to Holy Prophet S.A.W), which will hopefully be in the limelight next year” she reveals.
The poet says Allah has blessed her with a unique disposition, one that encourages poetry.

“My liking to stay in pensive mood since childhood would often stimulate deep thoughts in me. In solitude, I would take pen and start writing.All the bitter experiences and hardships of life gave a jolt to my existence and it was the time when heavenly blessings turned a simple ‘Shahzada’ to poetess Shahida Shabnum,” she says. “Women often witness their emotions being strangled, and they are often not treated well in society. This bothers me and so I chose ‘woman’ as the theme for my poetry.”

Shahida has been an avid reader all her life, and attempted writing her own book in Urdu when she was pursuing her higher secondary.

“My first book Insaniyat ka Jawhar, was a brief life history of my revered teacher Mr Ghulam Hassan Lone. Later, my teacher Prof. Naseem Shafie, suggested I write in Kashmiri, and so I abstained from writing in Urdu. I published my first book in Kashmiri Nabd-e-bar(a collection of short stories),” she says. Shahida’s additional publications included Wachukwath and Zenae-pauney Mandchayas (poetry collection). “A collection of amatory verses Treshte Sehraw is under compilation and Su zolukh Zindai, a Novel under pen”, adds poetess Shabnum.

Shahida Shabnum won the coveted Sanskriti Award, which was presented to her on November 17 by the former President, A P J Abdul Kalam. She is among five Young Achievers who were awarded the 2011 Sanskriti Awards for their contributions to the world of literature, journalism, art, music and social achievement. The other awardees included Rana Ayyub of Tehelka, Bangalore-based Abhishek Hazra, musician Murad Ali, and social activist Vinayak Lohani.


  1. may peace b unto d entire muslim umah…shahida shabnaum is destined for a life beyound a+ grades and awards of this ephimerial world.her flights of fancy are realy touching the dizy heights of sky.she is bestowed with a sunny disposition that helps her to remain in a cheer ful mood even in d stresed condition.i am wel concious of personality,more than a jovial natured nymph she is a kind and benevolent creature created by the author of this world the substance,i would like to pray for her prosperity and jubilation.with regards sehrab


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