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Left his school to save his mother tongue meet Asif.
In 2009, Asif Tariq Bhat, known as Bhat Asif, then 12-year-old, rebelled against his school authorities over their decision to prohibit use of Kashmiri language in the school. He dropped out in protest and remained committed to supporting his mother tongue.
Nine years later, Asif turned into a poet.
With hundreds of followers on his social media accounts, Asif has fetched a celebrity fan base from the valley.
A number of prominent poets including Zareef Ahmad Zareef have praised his work.
“I was in my 7th standard when I left one of the reputed institutions of the city because I wasn’t allowed to talk in my mother tongue. I felt it as an attempt to steal my identity. I have always been proud of my language and culture. With poetry, I try to preserve my legacy and identity,” said Asif.
Asif hails from central Kashmir’s Ganderbal district. Pursuing his honors’ degree in Kashmiri literature from Amar Singh College Srinagar, he came across Kashmiri poetry at an early age.
“One day I overheard my mother listening to a Kashmiri song written by Rehman Rahi. When I asked her about the song, she explained it to me. I was fascinated with the emotions those lines carried,” Asif said.
The poet started writing poems in mother tongue in his 7th standard with the pen name ‘Bhat Asif’.
“The first poem that I wrote titled ‘waqat’ (Time). I remember sharing it with my teachers and family. While my teachers ridiculed me my family encouraged me,” said Asif.
Shahzada Bano, Asif’s mother, who shares a great hand in moulding Asif’s beliefs for his language and culture, said, “Being a student of a prominent English-medium school Asif was ridiculed by his teachers for his choice of language. While Asif took a courageous decision of leaving the school, we as family supported his decision.”
Asif’s writings get frequently published in Sangarmall, the sole Kashmiri newspaper of the valley. Along with poetry Asif has written a number of short stories which he shares online on various social media platforms.
His recent Kashmiri drama ‘Tame Doh Oos Roud Paewaan’ (It was raining that day), which included 3 episodes, was highly appreciated not only by the local users but Kashmiri diaspora were also all praises for him.
Zareef Ahmad Zareef, a noted Kashmiri poet and cultural activist while praising Asif’s work, said, “It is a good sign to see the younger generation reviving our culture and taking interest in Kashmiri literature. They have realised that their mother tongue carries their identity and value system.”
“Literature is that unbreakable vessel which stores and preserves a nation’s culture and hence writers play the most significant part in doing so,” he added.
Asif is also a core member of ‘The Kashmir Tales’, an independent online story portal which publishes stories related to history and culture of Kashmir.
“We at ‘The Kashmir Tales’ encourage people to write and preserve true Kashmiri literature so that it shall be remembered for generations to come. We promote sublime art and literature of our times.”
Asif wants to serve his nation with his pen. “I want my nation to be immortal in its identity.”
“Our youth need to liberate themselves from this ‘colonial hangover’ and feel proud of their own culture. It’s the need of the hour that we realised we’ll always be treated as adopters rather than natives when we try to imitate culture other than our own,” Asif added.