A famous name in the Dogri writers’ fraternity of present age, Vijaya Thakur is someone people only had good things to say about. One of the most active members of the fraternity, she graced almost each and everything related to literature. This little conversation that followed introduced to many new aspects of the personality of a person, who despite sitting at the zenith of the popularity, is as humble as they come. Vijaya Thakur’s journey certainly makes for an interesting read.
The story began in Rajouri, a place adorning the best of the natural beauty, where Vijaya was born to a landlord father who, unlike majority of landlords, had a great interest in literature. Every now and then, usually monthly and sometimes after every two months, came in house the choicest of literature from all across the country, and from Russia as well, in the form of magazines, something Vijaya considers the reason for her inclination towards literature.
“My eldest brother, who recently retired as Senior Superintendent of Jammu and Kashmir Police, used to study in Jammu those days. I was the youngest in the family and I totally enjoyed the privileges that come with it. Whenever he used to come home, he always brought dozens of books and magazines for me. I still remember when I gave my Metric examinations; he brought me collection of Rabindranath Tagore’s poems in ‘Gitanjali’. Today when I look back at things, I feel it was these things which laid down the foundation of my interest in literature,” Vijaya recalls.
The exposure to good literature at a rather early age helped Vijaya in broadening the horizon of her vision. She was already lifted above various confinements that gripped society in that time and it reflected in her poems which she penned down in her school and college time and were even published in many prestigious publications within and out of the state. The shifting of base to Jammu for higher studies only proved a boon as Vijaya instilled a new sense of confidence in herself, not that she lacked any, before.
That the relationship with pen and paper was going to be a long term affair, was always known to Vijaya and she continued penning down many famous creations even after she joined Eduaction Department as a Lecturer which saw her moving to a whole new place- Kathua as she got married there, too. Serving there, Vijaya’s poems were regularly getting published in a score of publications and it was then that she started reciting her poems on All India Radio, for which she was widely appreciated by one and all. Little did she know that during her stint at Radio, the life was going to take a significant turn-around.
“It was around this time that Lakshmi Shankar Vajpayee came from Delhi to join us as Station Director. He listening to my poems, asked me to start writing and singing Ghazals. A novice at that time in this particular field, I insisted that I already do the same. But Vajpayee Ji suggested me undergo a formal training and referred me to Rajinder Nath ‘Rehbar’, a noted maestro in Pathankot, Punjab famous for his composition- ‘Teri Khushboo se Bhare Khat Main Jalata Kaise’. The training proved very fruitful as the first ever set of some twenty odd Ghazals that I wrote, all of them were published in ‘Ghazal Dushyant Ke Baad’ and one of them went on to win me the Best Ghazal of the Year Award in Rajasthan,” tells Vijaya.
She further recalls how meeting a poetess in Jodhpur who had sold all her property only to build a library for other to gain literary knowledge brought a major change in her. “Rehbar Sahab, despite being known world over, lived like a saint. There was no pomp and show. This lady, Savitri Ji, I met at Jodhpur was so humble and so down to earth that it questioned many a thing I used to see around me, before meeting these two people,” she gathers.
With a new perspective, Vijaya started working even harder towards her writing and attended many conferences and Mushaira’s across the country including the prestigious All India Urdu Mushaira. Vijaya was a name well-known among the Urdu poetry of the state when another change of events brought her closer to her mother tongue, Dogri. “In what was a gathering of all the major Urdu poets of the region, I came across (Late) Yash Sharma Ji who advised me to start writing in Dogri. At first I was a bit apprehensive about it but then I gave it a try. The 20 odd couplets I wrote in Dogri, surprisingly, were appreciated by many, going on to get published in a couple of reputed publications as well,” she explains.
And this started Vijaya’s tryst with Dogri. She did ‘better than she expected’ and with the constant support and appreciation that followed, Vijaya came out with her first collection of Dogri poems in ‘Ki Je’. The book that came in the year 2009, contained 101 Dogri, each one a masterpiece in itself and went on to become one of the raging hits of the year, winning her accolades from the writers’ fraternity all around the state.
Vijaya tells more about the book and the content thereof. “My poems usually revolve around Nature and its elements, something I have seen and appreciated from very closely in my childhood spent in Rajouri. The dusk, the dawn and the beauty that hovers over the sky are some of the finest sights, I have encountered in this world,” she says.
The other subjects which reflect very predominantly in Vijaya’s work are spiritualism and middle class women, the latter receiving a great share of focus from the writer. “Middle class women have always intrigued me to the core. You see, things are, much or less, clearly defined for both lower-class women and upper-class women. However, this group of society is very complex in its working. They are hanging between the two extremes, searching for the balance. Things become more difficult in case such women are working too. This intrigue got me and this is the reason they are such an important part in my work,” Vijaya explains.
Another book to her credit is the Dogri translation of Arun Kamal’s Sahitya Akademi award winning Hindi book ‘Naye Ilaake Mein’. Released under the title ‘Namme Ilaake Ch, the book also earned Vijaya the commendation for artistic usage of Dogri vocabulary.
Though an active member of the writers’ fraternity in the state, Vijaya’s talents have gone beyond the poems and prose. She has represented the state, having remained a National level player of Hockey. She has been closely related to National Cadet Corps, and has served as a programming officer in National Service Schemes, going up to the rank of Captain in Bharat Scouts & Guides. The Kohinoor in the her illustrious career as a lecturer has been the Nation honour of Best Teacher Award, conferred upon Vijaya by ministry of Human Resource Development, given by the President of India, in the year 2009.
For a person like Vijaya, her work and dedication for past over two decades speak for herself but that’s doesn’t mean it has not been recognized by authorities. With a number of awards and honours to her credit, major ones being Zeenat award of honour by Adbi Kunj, Gita Smriti Puraskar by Chetna Sahitya Parishad, Gorakhpur and various other honours by Khushdil in Jodhpur, Kalam in Dalhousie and Dogra Sadar Sabha in Jammu, Vijaya is certainly well acknowledged for her work.
We put Vijaya through a couple of questions to know more about the writer in her and we weren’t disappointed with the insightful responses that came. Easiest thing for Vijaya about writing is being a writer herself. “As a writer, once you feel something, you cannot hold it off for long. You need to let it out any way and until then, you cannot relax. That makes things very easy. What is difficult, though, is that sometimes your feelings and the words expressing them have less to do with readers in general as these concerns you more. It is then that you need to choose the appropriate words and write in correct context to make it an extension for everyone to read,” she easily explains these complex things.
An avid reader, Vijaya’s favourite works to read are not limited to one particular genre. From Leo Tolstoy and other Russian literatures to Bengali literature; from Urdu Shayari to Autobiographies of major authors, she has so much variety in her library. While her all time favourite book remains Rabindranath Tagore’s ‘Gitanjali’, Vijaya is currently inclined towards spiritualism, Osho being the latest addition to her favourites.
Vijaya doesn’t forget to acknowledge the contribution from so many people in her life- her parents, siblings, in-laws and family. She also makes a special mention of the unconditional supported extended to her by her husband. “He always motivated, telling me to ‘go ahead’ whenever a task brought itself to me,” she says. As far as her hobbies are concerned, Vijaya ‘loves music and home decoration to the core.’ “I feel connected to the nature in a way like none other. I can stay in Jungle for 10 straight days. It is such a relief from the chaotic tragedy our lives have become today,” she adds.
A reputed translator who has been working towards translating Bengali, Sindhi and Rajasthani literature, both prose and poems, into Dogri for past many years, Vijaya is coming out with yet another book on spiritualism and dualism that we human posses within. ‘Tappe’, another lost folk form of Dogra culture, is also on the list of Vijaya to revive. We wish Vijaya all the luck for her future endeavours.