On 31 July 1986, in the Towheed Gunj Mohalla of Baramulla was born a child who studied engineering only to end up becoming a poet. Elder amongst two brothers, the journey of Ashfaq Saraf as a poet starts when he was in school. But with time, owing to work and family issues, his writing took a backseat. As life progressed, he realized that writing was his first love, and began to pursue it seriously. The hard work bore fruits and he published his first poetry collection, ‘The Harkening’.
As his teacher read Shakespeare and Keats, Ashfaq got engrossed in the poetic melody. But what got him into poetry was Mirza Ghalib.
“I had taken my teacher’s Deewan-e-Ghalib to read. The more I read and tried to comprehend, it gave me goose bumps. The precision of language and depth of understanding influenced me to the extent that I felt like breaking from the monotonous normal,” says nostalgic Ashfaq.
Realizing that Ghalib’s poetry was really “something to ponder upon”, Ashfaq took to writing in school.
“I felt like a poet and started writing in Urdu. I also participated in school Mushairey (poetry recitation).”
As people in school started encouraging him, he began to like it.
“I was emotionally into poetry. I was very serious about what I was writing primarily because of the experiences in school.” Besides Ghalib, old songs also inspired him to write.
But things were never easy for him. The economic condition back home was building pressure on him. His father was a government employee and earned enough to keep the family going. But supporting Ashfaq till he became a writer was not easy for them. So once he was done with his high school, he decided to go for engineering, because he could get a job easily after his degree to support the family. Torn between the career of his choice and family, Ashfaq chose his family and quit poetry.
He appeared in AIEEE exam and got admitted in National Institute of Technology, Srinagar. He faired well in the college and by the end of the final year, Wipro, a leading manufacturer of computer hardware, recruited him. He worked there for one and a half year and left the job. From there, he joined Free Scale Semi Conductors, Gurgaon, a manufacturer of micro-controllers and microprocessors.
In 2006, Ashfaq lost his father. Amidst the perplexity of love for words and loss of his support, he found his muse and started writing again after a gap of seven years. But this time, the passion was so intense that he ended up publishing his 136-poem collection as a book, ‘The Harkening’ in January 2012. The book talks about love, conflict, and spirituality.
“I started writing in October 2010 till December 2011. I used to write a poem almost everyday. The words just used to come to me, whether I was at work, or in public place or at home.”
The book has been well taken by the readers in Kashmir and outside. Ashfaq plans to go back to Kashmir and become a full time writer. He is currently working on his another book.