Her poems are a beautiful expression of feelings and thought, which we all connect with somehow but never able to put in words with equal ease; her short stories tell us tales of what we see around in everyday life albeit in such a way that even the ordinary seems extraordinary; her novel has been a strong chapter of literary flow at its best. Her expressions do not reflect her age, yet showing the maturity of a learned writer, like none other. At 74, Chand Deepika is sitting at the pinnacle of name and fame with her exquisite flow of poetry and spellbinding display of literary eminence. And her journey is nothing short of the beauty her work reflects.
The walk of this fame and glory had not been easy at all for Deepika. Born in Kotli in Mirpur (presently in Pakistan), Deepika’s childhood was spent in fear and adversities, far from the comfort and sweet memories most associate the phase with. She recalls, “I was barely four years old when parts of state were hit by tribal invaders from Pakistan in 1947. The bloodshed that followed reached our home, sooner than later. I have faint memories of that time. When invaders were to reach our village, the men of the village had planned to kill their own women-wives, mothers, daughter- so the invaders didn’t abduct them. The jerry cans filled with kerosene still haunt me sometimes.”
As the luck would have it, the invaders couldn’t reach them and the family survived the hard times. As Deepika along with her family migrated to Jammu, she was faced with other challenges. “Our neighbours in Jammu were educated and wanted their kids to be best when it came to studies. My mother, to prove that her children are not behind in any way, stressed a lot on my education. The result was me getting acquainted with academic books as well as other literature, at a rather early age. Though it was not one of the pleasant feelings back then but today I realize the blessing it had in disguise,” Deepika smiles.
Life took another turn when the family shifted to Moradabad in Uttar Pradesh in search for better opportunities. Deepika, who was in second standard that time, found solace in reading book for the next four years she would spend in Moradabad. “My inclination towards literature began there. There were a number of books and magazines at my disposal there and I didn’t let the opportunity go in waste. Magazines like Dharamyug, Manohar Kahaniyana and many other were my best friends and I found my inspiration in Premchand whose creations like ‘Nirmala’ and ‘Gaban’ gave the child in me a new perspective to look at things,” tells Deepika, sharing how she would read all day on rooftop while her parents used to be away.
A sudden turn of events would see Deepika coming back to home in Jammu as she lost her aunt- someone she was very close with. “My Maasi (Mother’s sister) was someone I was very close with. When she died, I was completely shattered. She was a teacher and taught me many things that helped me immensely in life. I tried distracting myself by getting involved in reading more books than ever. My teachers and principal of the school noticed my likening for books and I was permitted to take more than the allowed number of books from the school library, as a special case,” Deepika shares.
The life kept moving and in 1965, Deepika joined Education department as a teacher. Her first posting was in Rajouri, a place full of scenic beauty. With nothing much to do there after the school, Deepika started penning down poems which increased by tens and hundred in coming years. The following years in service saw her meeting many likeminded people who inspired Deepika to write more and get them published. This begin the era of Deepika becoming a much celebrated writer, getting her poems and short stories published in a score of reputed magazines and publications, including Jammu and Kashmir Academy for Art, Culture and Languages’s official magazines. The major ones among them were Sarita, Kesar Mahika, Vipasha Kala Sanskriti Bhasha, Shimla, Rajyabhasha Ispat Bhasha Bharti and others.
The increasing name and fame didn’t stop Deepika from experimenting new things as she moved from Hindi to Dogri and many such poems and short stories garnered appreciation from readers around the region. Her profession was also going smooth as she got promoted as a lecturer in Political Sciences, retiring from the post of Principal in the year 2001, before serving on many important posts like Research Officer in State Institute of Education and Head of Department of Political Sciences in District Institute of Education and Training.
It was post retirement when many demanded a compilation of her work that Deepika thought of getting her books published. Her first book came in the year 2012 under the title ‘Uphaar’. It was a collection of 18 Hindi poems, each one of them well received by writers’ fraternity. Her poems ‘Paashan’, ‘Deep Jale Jagar Magar’, ‘Pyar Ko Pyar’, ‘Marmm Jeevan Ka’, ‘Sehchar’, ‘Vichoh’, ‘Trikon’, ‘Unka Satya’, ‘Kaali Ladki’ were especially held as refreshing pieces of literature by many.
The coming time saw Deepika releasing a slew of books one after the other, as if she was just waiting for the first step to be taken. In the same year, Deepika released her next book of short stories in Hindi, in ‘Mera Ghar Kahan Hai’. The book had 20 short stories, among them ‘Munder Pe Ughi Bael’, ‘Shehar Hass Pada’, ‘Kaale Chuhe Safed Chuhe’, ‘Chakravyuh’, ‘Khamosh Cheekh’ going on to be hugely popular among readers. Deepika exhibited her multifaceted talent when she published her third book in a year- ‘Mera Karr Kithe Ae’, the translation of Hindi short stories in Punjabi.
Deepika has 2 more books to her credits- ‘Fuhaar’ and ‘Dhoop Chaon’. Fuhaar was yet another poetry collection with as many as 72 poems in Hindi whereas Dhoop Chaon was Deepika’s debut novel. While Fuhaar was published in the year 2013, Dhoop Chaon came out in 2014, both taking Deepika’s scale of popularity to even greater heights, within and out of the state.
We asked Deepika what is she trying to tell through her stories and poems and she answered, “Literature is a big, deep ocean. There is no limit to its depths. I don’t try to limit it by dividing into things. My work expresses everything, well almost everything, I feel, I see and I observe, around me. Though, one prominent aspect in my work has remained the social divide on the basis of caste and religion. When your feelings don’t caste themselves upon you based on your religion, why do we create a divide among ourselves depending upon our caste and religion? We are all humans and the most important religion we all have to practice is that of humanity. This is what I try telling my readers.
Deepika is a ferocious reader, right from her childhood. While she has read many legends throughout her life, Premchand and Vimal Mitra are her favourite authors while Manu Bhandari’s ‘Aapka Bunty’ holds a special place in her heart. This author finds contentment in plantation and practicing yoga, something she has been prominently doing ever since her retirement. She is also working with a number of organizations, in the direction of women emancipation.
Being a teacher, it hurts Deepika when she witnesses the deteriorating values and morals among present generation of students. “There is nothing remained of the high morals we used to be proud of, once. The quality of education is also going down, especially in government school. I visit schools on regular basis and appeal to them to put in efforts to preserve this glorious heritage of ours,” she tells.
Deepika is currently working on a couple of books which she expect to be out soon. “The work on my next novel is almost complete. It will be in Hindi and will be called ‘Paarijat’. There is another book coming which will be the collection of poems in Punjabi. Its title will be –‘Deeva Vale Saari Raat’,” she informs.