Now Reading
In Conversation with Shafi Ahmad, ‘The Half Widow’ Author

In Conversation with Shafi Ahmad, ‘The Half Widow’ Author

In Kashmir’s literary landscape, Shafi Ahmad comes across as an unassuming wordsmith driven by an old school author’s belief. He lets his pen speak for himself.

But the absence of the public eye doesn’t make him any minnow, especially when it comes to capturing the strife-torn stories of his homeland.

With his debut novel spark-plugged by his fleeting renegade encounter back in the day, he demonstrated his storytelling prowess at a time when Kashmir was yet to witness a literary creative boom.

In conversation with Mountain Ink, the author talks about his literary journey and why he writes.

INTERVIEWER

How did the journey from an engineer to a novelist take place?

Support Our Journalism

You are reading this because you value quality and serious journalism.

But, serious journalism needs serious support. We need readers like you to support us and pay for making quality and independent journalism more vibrant.

SHAFI AHMAD

I started writing for newspapers during my school and college days. Those days getting published in daily “Aftab” was a craze and I passed that test. I usually wrote humor in Urdu.

INTERVIEWER

You’ve also worked in TV and Radio. Tell us something about the experience of that phase of your life.

SHAFI AHMAD

I did write one 13-episode serial and half a dozen plays for Radio and TV. It was a fleeting affair.

INTERVIEWER

And then you ended up doing Masters in Journalism.

SHAFI AHMAD

The penchant for writing cultivated a passion for full-time journalism profession but that did not work.

Advertisement

Advertisement

INTERVIEWER

Tell us about the journey you undertook to write your first novel, The Half Widow.

Cover Image of Half Widow

SHAFI AHMAD

This novel was born in Kokernag area when I and my colleagues were attacked by renegades. Our escape from death was a miracle.

Next afternoon when I reached my home, my son was waiting to show me his school report card.

I hugged him tightly, then went to the washroom and wept bitterly thinking ‘had it happened the previous evening whom would this little boy show the report card?’

INTERVIEWER

How long did it take you to write your first novel?

SHAFI AHMAD

It was a work in progress for about four years. The book was later translated into Punjabi and has been adopted by two students for their doctoral studies.

INTERVIEWER

There was a controversy surrounding The Half Widow that some elements of it were used in a movie without your consent. Would you like to talk about that?

SHAFI AHMAD

No, consent was there followed by controversy. The issue was later settled through a mutually agreed out of court settlement.

INTERVIEWER

How was the process of writing The Shadows beyond the Ghost Town like? How did the idea of such a painful and powerful story come to you?

SHAFI AHMAD

Well, Palestinian poet Mahmoud Dervish says, “He who writes his story inherits the land of that story”.

INTERVIEWER

You self-published both your novels. Was there any specific reason behind that?

SHAFI AHMAD

One publisher rejected the script. Two more were ready to publish but they demanded time-lapse of six months and one year respectively. In the present environment, self-publishing is not a taboo but a thing. 

INTERVIEWER

With the inception of Self- Publishing Houses here, lots of young Kashmiri writers and poets self-publish their books which most of the times read like an amateur piece of writing written in haste as if there is a race going on. Do you feel the same?

SHAFI AHMAD

The young generation is in haste in all spheres of life. I’ve read a couple of published books by young authors and it was evident that speed has damaged the books.

One can’t run through while writing a book. Friends, experts and well-wishers do help provided one asks for it. I personally admit people did provide the required guidance.

INTERVIEWER

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

SHAFI AHMAD

During my school days.

INTERVIEWER

Do you have any childhood memories related to the earliest writing attempts?

SHAFI AHMAD

I was a voracious reader of non-academic books in my school days. My Pandit friend Ramesh Kumar and I shared Urdu magazines and even novels.

We would read each other’s written scripts and corrected the same to the best of our ability.

INTERVIEWER

What is your work schedule like when you are working on a novel?

SHAFI AHMAD

Time schedules don’t work in writing fiction. I write a few pages, give a pause then the computer in the brain works till the first draft is ready.

For the second draft, concentration is required. After that friends and well-wishers play their role. 

INTERVIEWER

Could you recommend some of your favourite novels to our readers?

SHAFI AHMAD

Khaled Hosseini’s “The Kite Runner”, George Orwell’s “1984”, Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s “One hundred years of solitude” and Redwa Ashour’s “The Woman from Tantoura”.

INTERVIEWER

What are you working on next?

SHAFI AHMAD

An English novel, an anthology of Kashmiri short stories and a collection of Urdu humour and satire.

INTERVIEWER

If you could tell your younger self anything, what would it be?

SHAFI AHMAD

Should have concentrated on reading and writing more seriously.


To help us strengthen the tradition of quality reading and writing, we need allies like YOU. Subscribe to us.

Mountain Ink is now on Telegram. Subscribe here.

Become Our Ally

To help us strengthen the tradition of quality reading and writing, we need allies like YOU. Subscribe to us.

View Comments (0)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

© 2019-2022 Mountain Ink. All Rights Reserved.

Scroll To Top