Dr. Brij Premi
It was a cold Wintery evening, Srinagar was under a thick carpet of snow. The news about the demise of Kuldeep Rana carried by the evening bulletin of Radio Kashmir benumbed me. For a moment I could not reconcile that Kuldeep Rana, a handsome man with fine intellect was no more in this world.
My nostalgic memories went back to the day when I had first met Rana twenty five years back. It was a chance meeting. Prof. AQ Sarwari had introduced Kuldeep Rana to me by his real name-Janki Nath. The Professor always called him by this name, Kuldeep would feel inconvenient.
After this meeting, we began meeting quite frequently. Kuldeep Rana had rented a room in the Habbakdal quarter of Srinagar. This room became a meeting point for his like-minded friends to socialize and indulge in animated discussions. It was this small room, where Kuldeep Rana penned down many of his short stories. I had the privilege to listen to these stories from him. At times he invited criticism from me and his other adversaries, but this never impinged upon our friendship.
Both he and myself virtually chased eminent poets and writers, whenever they visited Kashmir and benefited from our interactions with them. In 1968 Krishan Chander and Salma Sidiquee visited Kashmir and stayed in the Srinagar Circuit House. We met Krishan Chander and had discussions with him which spread over three days. There was a photographic session also with him. I get emotional on seeing these photographs.
Kuldeep Rana had finished his Masters Degree and was working for Doctorate on ‘Urdu Literature after Prem Chand’. It was at the time that he received the appointment orders as Newsreader in Radio Kashmir. He could no longer pursue his Doctorate. Meanwhile, he was transferred to Delhi and stayed there for sixteen long years. Our meetings became less frequent, but whenever Kuldeep visited Srinagar he would never miss a chance to meet his friends with the same enthusiasm and warmth as before. His smile never vanished from his face. In his Coffee House interactions, he would not mind speaking a little louder to drive home his argument. People could make out his presence from a distance.
Kuldeep Rana was no stranger to me, even before Prof. Sarwari introduced me to him. I used to read his columns in ‘The Daily Khidmat’ and Sunday edition of ‘The Daily Aftab’. His writings reflected intellectual depth and brought forth new trends in literary journalism. He became a familiar name in the writers’ fraternity. It was around this time that he published his Urdu novel, which was received well. He was at the Zenith of his literaty career, his new name as Kuldeep Rana was conferred the recognition.
It remains enigmatic to me how he developed taste to write short stories. His first collection titled “Tanhaiyan”, was published in 1967-68. The collection carried introductory comments by eminent literateurs-Professor Sarwari, Prof. Shakeel-ur-Rehman, Kamal Siddiqui and Dr. Shamir Nikhat.
He was ecstatic when a literary journal ‘Shabi-Khoon’, brought out from Allahabad, published his short story. Kuldeep Rana was a perfectionist in the choice of subject matter for his stories and selected titles with great care. He displayed keen insight into emotional and psychological dimensions of society. Human agonies and tragedies found place as a prominent theme in his stories. His other interests included depiction of nature and spiritualism. Kuldeep Rana always looked impatient, a man in hurry. He had mastered well the language he chose as the medium to write his creative stories. Like Prem Nath Pardesi and Prem Nath Dhar his literary talents suffered due to full-time work in the Radio. Had he continued to live Rana would have attained greater heights in the field of literature. I salute this great craftsman of words.
*(Translated from original Urdu by Sh. SK Handoo).