Stay faithful to the stories in your heads.
_Paula Hawkins (author of Into the Water).
Having my dreams touching skies, I never ever imagined that I would seek inspiration from a boy not older than me. And more than that I never imagined that people will start competing to seek that inspiration.
At least all the writers and readers should know him, love him and get inspired.
P.s This is not a promotional feature and I am just featuring him because I believe that what he has been doing would make so many people reluctant to feature him and I want to be the first.
Standing in the list of youngest authors of Kashmir, Saraf Ali Bhat has authored "A smile worth a billion poems" and "triggered sorrows", which depict the love and passion that he has internalised for writing and he takes us on the nostalgic ride of his journey.
Belonging from Kadlabal, Pampore this 20 year old "kid" is the youngest Kashmiri to start a publishing house on his own and his terrific passion and love for writing leads him to become the owner of a publishing house which is the only publishing house to publish the work and dreams of people without any cost, and thus defining the name, "helping hands".
I always wonder how secluded and lovely and contended his heart must be after publishing six dreams so far and then I wish, I could be the first. Well, being first is absolutely not possible now, but I really admire him and wish to be the next him; my heart definitely needs that seclusion and peace. Had he been making business, he would've been earning but ofcourse he isn't earning, rather spending. Spending in the way of dreams and desires of those thousands of people who are writing but are asked to stay back due to the economical brutality that's attacking their dreams. And here , I repeat the first line I wrote, I never ever imagined that I would seek inspiration from a boy not older than me.
I won't say that, "after a lot of struggle, I got a chance to talk to him". Because this line would have made sense only if people had acknowledged his existence as a so called celebrity. But, now when everybody is as dumb as me, and not conscious about this helping hand, and thus not turning him in a star yet, I felt no difficulty in reaching out to him and without even an introduction, I started with, 'Why are you doing this?' and after making sure that I was talking about his helping hand and not anything else, he replied," Kashmir is not in that era where writing is a full time profession but my artistic sense to take it as a passion and not profession could help the people and especially the youngsters of this war torn place to create histories. I am not running a business and neither I want to run such a business where I get paid for fulfilling dreams, dreams of those who are able to pay. And a business where people who can't pay are asked to give up on their dreams."
And after making myself capable enough to believe him, my heart found peace and excitement grew, not because of reason his heart has found peace but because of I realized that I know more than a dozen people who write as beautiful as I've never read but can't publish that beauty because either they don't have bucks to pay for it or even if they have, their parents want to spend them for a good cause; not knowing that there can be no better cause than spending in the way of their dreams. I bothered him again to ask about his life as an author and his experience with writing.
"In my writing journey I faced a lot of rejections about the particular genre I wrote about. Not letting other beings to go through the same I thereby decided to publish the works of those unheard voices that were truly worthwhile. I came up all alone with no one as a part of it but lately had a good helping team among whom Cealice, an Alaskan book reviewer is a part.
Being unaware of what a published author stands for I first wrote as I wanted to but then came to know that writing is not only about what we want to write it's also about what readers want to read," Saraf said.
"I don't know of others but yes publishing journey starts with receiving, reviewing and refining the manuscripts one is likely to get so their house publishes at its best. Speaking on my behalf as a writer I just am not satisfied with the costly packages most of the publishing houses come up with.
Luck didn't favour me going to the place where a Muslim wants to die, where Moses and as great Prophets desired to be born. Still but I've been to places of values and norms.. I've visited almost all the Sufi shrines who there and then kept spreading love by their religious approach. I've been always inspired by what they did and what they wrote,"he added.
I am still stuck in awe and amazement that I experienced while I came to know about him and I feel unfortunate that the people of his motherland, whom he dedicates this love and passion to, are yet to recognize him and even I came to know about this hand that helps the dreamers through the Alaskan book reviewer he talks about and not any other person living around me.
A computer science student, managing his studies, his own musings(hardly maybe), fighting and spending to see a smile on any face that looks of a dreamer who dreams his name written on the cover page of the book which he has been writing with love and emotions and memories poured in it and longing to get it published. All this because he wants to spread the love of writing and the slogan of his publishing house, "The voice of unpublished, unheard", makes on brood over how passionate and determined one can be about not only writing but anything.
We live at such a place on earth, where sufferings have been a major part of our lives, where dreams get shattered and hearts broken. Yet in such a place, people like Saraf truly turn out be inspiration and it's not only him but there must be a number of such people who would be ready to sacrifice their musings for our sake and unfortunately they also are yet to be acknowledged, to be loved.
"Working with Helping Hands Publishing House was one of the best experiences of my life. The way this team supported all of my interests and values are highly appreciable. There is nothing left to improve for them all. They didn't publish my book or that market of my poems, but it's my dreams that got published and my desires that were fulfilled. Helping hand is not just a name, its actually a hand, that's helping writers like me", said by Soliha Shabir, author of "Obsolete - the poem market.
Aasiya Nazeer Salroo , the interviewer, is an honours student from Islamic University of Science and Technology who hails from Bijbehara Southern Part of Kashmir Valley.