Whenever the name of tallest Kashmiri in history is talked, we spontaneously understand that the name of Sheikh Abdullah is being said but here the phrase of ‘tallest Kashmiri’ is really about tallest Kashmiri in true sense. An American, Professor James Ricalton was friends with two Giants (twin brothers) of Kashmir with whom he clicked photos in Srinagar as well as in Delhi in 1903 during the Delhi Durbar. The two giants are known by Cashmere Giants or Kashmir Giants and were elite riflemen of Maharaja of Kashmir. One of them was 7ft 9in & other was 7ft 4in. The taller one was considered the the tallest of men in India at that time. At Delhi Darbar the photos were taken by George Rose in 1903. According to the notes available, we get to know that the Giants belonged to Balmokand, Kashmir. After searching, i can’t find where Balmokand is. It seems Balmokand’s name has been changed to something else now.
Language we Speak, Language we cannot write – That is how Kashmiri Language can be best described right now. Indeed, it is undergoing a dark period for which it would not be wrong to say that our earlier generations are responsible. I am not taking any pleasures by blaming them for the current mess in which the Kashmiri Zabaan is right now but where the political tumult has taken continuously for decades, language seems too small a problem to be taken care of. Language is an identity which stands distinct. As India got independence from British, new states were carved out keeping language in mind. East Bengal began to get isolated from erstwhile Pakistan as Bengalis didn’t like the idea of Urdu being imposed on them & Bengali language be given inferior status to it. The situation degraded so much that with other political factors, East Bengal became a new nation, Bangladesh afterwards & United Nations began to observe the International Mother Language Day in memory of the students killed demonstrating for recognition of their language, Bangla at Dhaka in 1952. Such is the power of the language that it has created a nation! But we still have not taken any cue from it. I am not bragging that i know Kashmiri that much or i can write Kashmiri as i also am in the league which can be called as the one who speaks the language with average vocabulary & can’t write because we were never taught that how to write it & never have been told about any Kashmiri grammar rules in writing. Whatever we speak Kashmiri language in good eloquence is because we have been speaking it since our childhood and have developed the sense what is correct or wrong unconsciously. Well that occurs to all races of mankind for their mother tongues so it is not a big deal. My point here is not about spoken Kashmiri as it has been discussed in past that the parents don’t communicate through Kashmiri as the first language but only second or third after Urdu & English and that has contributed a lot to the mess in which the Kashmiri language is now found. My point here is about written Kashmiri language. It’s a shame that we never were made to read Kashmiri books or write even the basic words of the language, leave Kashmiri novels. Although we like to hear or see the Kashmiri quotes of our Sufi poets like Nund Reshi, Lalded, etc and they are now on tip of the tongue but the sad thing is that we somehow develop repulsion in writing it in Kashmiri language, either we write it in Kashmiri-Roman script or translate it into English. How many of us literates do know the names of Kashmiri novels, we may name one or two to maximum but aren’t there more? Our national poet is Mahjoor and we often love to say that he is our pride but have we fulfilled the duty of reading his books and poetry. Have we done Justice to Kashmiri which is our native language? We may have a couple of Kashmiri newspapers or magazines published from the valley but are they popular? The answer is negative. We all fall flat on this question apart from few people who are trying very hard to revive the spirit of Kashmiri language. Only a renaissance will help our culture but when, that is the question, the clock is ticking…. May we all step in to save the language from being extinct on paper. Let us not be entangled in the web of communal overtones along the lines of Urdu-Hindi feud that whether Perso-Arabic script is better or Devanagari script as it all depends which script is convenient to you and not on your religion. Amen !
Writing is not language, but merely a way of recording language by visible marks.– Leonard Bloomfield