Saraf Ali brought laurels to JK by winning Reader’s Choice award

Saraf Ali brought laurels to JK by winning Reader’s Choice award

‘Saraf Ali, the first Kashmiri to get hold on Reader’s Choice award, also runs a publishing house to support writers’

Saraf Ali, the first Kashmiri to win a reader’s choice award, who runs Helping Hands Publishing House to support writers.
“There exists a beautiful bridge between the reader & the author whose book he/she has chosen to read or has already read.” Or so do I strongly believe.
I won’t say I’m a very good reader or reviewer for that matter but whenever I pick up a book, I feel like connecting with the author to hear how his writing journey was like. How he struggled, how he fought the internal & external battles & what kept him going. This works like a magical dose of motivation for me. And, it completes my reading purpose fully.
Today, the author I want to proudly talk about is Saraf Ali Bhat hailing from Kaldabal, Pampore. A 20- year old youngster yet what he aims for, what his perceptions are, what he has been doing selflessly, what more he has in store for all of the people out there – all of this indicates that age is indeed a number & one can do wonders beyond this number, by going way beyond himself, by dedicating oneself to a higher & nobler cause.
Let’s start with his professional journey – He has successfully written 2 good books – “A smile worth a billion poems” & the second one “Triggered Sorrows.”
Well, I read Triggered Sorrows & was totally intrigued to know how a youngster can manage to write with such honesty & sincerity. And, this led to a series of questions with Saraf himself who was humble enough to pour his heart out for people to hear him out. His people I’d say. People of his motherland – Kashmir.
What amazes me is that as a Kashmiri, I didn’t come across his name before that means, the literature culture is somehow slowly shifting outwards while there exists pious beauty in our roots which we sometimes fail to acknowledge.
You would be glad to know that while pursuing his writing career, he did give a thought to many others like him who were not fortunate enough to publish what they feel. And, for this noble cause, he came up with a publishing house named “Helping Hands”. As selfless is this name, as has been his work to promote those who have been facing one hurdle after another in their path to write & publish.
My first question to him was why he didn’t turn out this publishing house into his source of income – I mean have you ever heard of publishing houses helping the writers publish their work without charging a single penny?
“Kashmir is a place where people especially youngsters can create history but due to violence & unrest they are not able to do so. I’m not running a business nor do I want to run it as my business. I don’t want people to give up on their dreams if only they are not able to pay. Also, Kashmir is not in that era where writing is a full time profession so taking it as an advice, I need their artistic sense to take it as passion not profession,” said Saraf with a selfless smile on his face.
Being curious, I asked him how his writing journey has been like all along.
To this he began by saying: “In my writing journey I faced a lot of struggles about the particular genre I wrote about.’’ And, to not let other people suffer the same fate he decided to publish the works of those unheard voices that were truly worth listening. Taking readers into consideration he said, “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.”
I won’t hesitate in saying that he is becoming the voice of those who are afraid to speak up. As he himself says “I always like to be truthful as I can but most of the readers hinder in believing that because we live in an era where fiction is mostly liked of all genres.”
Mentioning his family, he further added, “Initially my family had no idea about my publishing venture but they came to know me through print & electronic media. My father had an extra supportive arm and helped me over, while as my mother proved to be a good part adding much of the support to all of this going on. Moreover, both of my maternal uncles supported me morally which proved to be a great change in my writing journey.’ Also, nostalgia had the best of him while he mentioned how he started off with his publishing house. ‘I came all alone with no one as a part of it but lately had a good helping team among whom Cealice, an Alaskan reviewer is a part.’
Also, being a Kashmiri & a practicing Muslim, he gracefully added “Luck didn’t favour me going to the place where a Muslim wants to die, where Moses & great Prophets desired to be born. Still I’ve been to places of values & norms. I’ve visited almost all the Sufi shrines & kept spreading love by their religious approach. I’ve always been inspired by what they did & what they wrote.”
And, now something I’d gladly like to mention is that Saraf is the very first Kashmiri to win a reader’s choice award. Isn’t it something we all ought to be proud of? Yet when I asked him how he felt about the same, without exaggerating in any way he said he was grateful for everything.
Even I couldn’t fathom the slightest trace of pride in him, instead I felt humbleness embedded in his strong character, working without seeking benefits of the same.
This is what we all ought to do. “Never letting our success make us arrogant”. We have to emerge stronger out of pain as this brave youngster has. We can’t help but we can try to help one person at a time, like he has. We can’t please all, but we can help others achieve their dreams as he has been doing. It easy to get self-absorbed but it’s a beautiful journey to help others smile with peace written all over their face.
As portrayed in his second book, Triggered Sorrows, as someone sincere to his emotions, to the people around him & to the words, He has unfailingly been like that in his real life as well where he is not only a brother, son & a writer but also someone who is sharing & spreading the love of words with others son that like him they could also embrace a part of their dreams.
In a conflict zone like Kashmir where our past, present, & future contains pain in different forms, he has chosen a path of growth, a path of learning for himself which is inspiration enough for all those Kashmiris who want to stand up for something in their lives, who want to look beyond the cloud of pain, who want to live not only pain but the bliss dreams are about.
With being on the giving end, he is receiving the ajar (reward) of an eternal peace & truckload of blessings which will always clad him in warmth & joy. Let his journey inspire you to love what you do. And trust me, when you do what you love to do, smile will find a way on your face.

-Aiman Khan
(Reader & reviewer)

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