Meet one of the most famous writers of Dogri, Inderjeet Kesar, whose work of past 50 years have the readers glued to his books, 19 in total!
As we sat across in his lush green lawn, the conversation that ensued with Inderjeet Kesar reflected the trait always visible in his writing- simplicity that makes his ordinary word so special. Not for no reason is he considered as one of the most prolific writers in the Dogri literature of the state. That writing is more than a hobby, qualifying as intense passion for most parts, only helps in understanding how he has been so consistent in pushing out book after book, for past 19 years, without missing a beat.
Inderjeet Kesar, was born in the beautiful town of Katra but soon had to move out as his father got transferred to Jammu. The less-than-ideal financial condition of the family saw Kesar shifting to evening classes from regular ones in 11th standard only and join a government service. The things, however, didn’t stop him from following his passion for writing which was in his words, ‘an expression what I saw, what my society faced at different times.’ From writing his first poem in 1967, he is not out at 50, not having stopped ever since.
Things changed for better for Kesar, as he got a job in larger circles of administration an year later only. He shares, “At a rather young age of 22, I joined Home department in administrative capacity. While the job was hectic, whatever time I found for myself was utilised in writing. I would keep writing on almost every subject, in different forms. The only grouse I have is that I couldn’t get my work published as that involved a lot of things like editing, proof-reading, finding a publisher, get it printed and later market it. A government job of that level didn’t give me time enough to do all those things. So I decided to continue writing and publishing as and when I could.” The time came only after 30 years, when in 1998, this civil servant, who served state in various capacities including Advisor to Governor from 1990-95, before retiring in 2004 as Deputy Secretary, published his first book, a poetry collection, ‘Full Khid’de Reh’.
What only a few know of Kesar, was soon out for everyone to read, helping Kesar to get established as one of the fresher and effective voice of literature fraternity of state. What followed soon after was something only a few authors can boast of- having a book released every year, without any miss. Yes! That is 19 books in last 19 years. I asked him if it was intentional or things just happen on the way to which he smiles before replying that writing is his game, something which is second nature. Publishing is something that just helps his writing reach out to more than just few. “I have been writing since past 50 years. Not a single day has gone by when I have not written something or the other. Writing has become an addiction to me. It just doesn’t feel right without getting my thoughts imprinted on the paper. I write more than the number of books will tell you. That I have a book released every year, is something that has just happened once I started publishing my work. “
Of 19 books that have come out from Kesar include 5 novels, 11 poetry collections and a book of songs, short stories and Essay each. The most notable of these 19 books include Kungli Aas, Sarbandh, Sukham Kyaari, Maatreya, Murto, Manne Da Chinaah, Nimma Nimma Hassa, Cheten Da Chanan, Onkaar Pyaar Di, Bakhre Bakhre Rang, Likhat, Bhagirath, Do Rutta, Soch Taranga and his latest in Phirdiya Kirdiyaa Shhamma. Upon asking which one of these is closest to his heart, he has to say, “These are all my issues, the issues of the society I live. And none of the issues that concern me are lesser or more important than the other so there is no way I can treat any of them with bias. All of them hold the same spot in my heart.”
Kesar’s writing touches almost all the social issues that we face in everyday life at large. However, where he excels is the unique and fresh take on them, which often hit the right patch in reader’s heart. The years he spent amidst the chaos that troubled valley in the decade of 90’s also reflect in his writings prominently. That all these things have been expressed in Dogri, connect with reader instantly. However, the books are not the sole medium of his expression. He has been writing regularly for many reputed publications including prominent newspapers, Jammu and Kashmir Academy for Art, Culture and Languages, and many others. He is also the executive member of a prominent organization working for Dogri’s cause and has remained on the advisory board of Sahitya Akademi New Delhi for 5 years. He has also been associated with Radio and Doordarshan, with his written 12 songs and 9 Bhajans playing on the former since ages.
The list of achievements doesn’t stop here though as his writings have been instrumental in shaping up the future of students of the language. His novel Maatreya has been taught to students of Bachelor of Art for last 12 years while another novel Jaul is included in the syllabus for the students of Masters of Art in Jammu University. That more often than not, the lead character in his writings is a woman, has also helped fight the old perception of gender-discrimination in its own way.
So what is the greatest compliment this author has received for his writings so far? “Many a times, people ask me what is the reason I have not received an award yet after writing so much for so long when people younger than me have bagged one. I tell them that writing for award has never been my priority so it doesn’t matter much to me. Then when I ask myself, I am told by my soul that the writer in me is satiated not by any award or honour, but by those phone calls I receive, majorly from people unknown to me, who tell me how my writing has connected so well with them; by the letters I receive which tell me that what I wrote was so similar to their stories; by those mentions which I receive at almost every gathering of intellectuals of the genre; and by those students who come to me telling me how they like my book the most of all they study at college,” he answers.
Kesar doesn’t forget to thank his family, especially his wife, who has been a pillar of strength to him all way along. “It is not easy to deal with an artist and I am usually lost in a world of my own when I am writing. Many times, I am amazed at the cooperation and support she provides me with. A man is nothing- incomplete- without the support of a woman. I am glad that I found such woman in her,” he says.
Keeping his record intact, Kesar is already working on his next book, a novel that goes by the name ‘Muns’. “This is a story of a brave woman who fights against all the odds and look after her family when the need arises for it. It is already in work and very soon, will be out for all of you to read,” he informs as we end our chat.