The Season of Transience and Fugitive Emotions: A Tribute to the Kashmiri Autumn — by Mir Yasir Mukhtar
December 16, 2022
Mir Yasir Mukhtar presents a tribute to autumn, the season that symbolizes transience and presages the renewal of life. Perhaps inadvertently, the young photographer captures the relationship and connection that the indigenous people of Kashmir have with their sites of heritage, which include famous Mughal gardens such as Nishat Bagh. Widely advertised and promoted to tourists and visitors from outside of Kashmir, this photo story quite contrarily and perhaps unintentionally depicts the ritualized bond that Kashmiris have developed with their sites of heritage, captured in this case through visuals showing the Kashmiri experience of the Nishat Gardens. Following the tradition of celebrating and rendering tribute to the fall season, Mir Yasir Mukhtar produces a concise but vastly creative text supported further by his photography to reflect on autumn in his native Kashmir.

Koh tae baal che chaange pathe pairaan,
kar nyarei hard’ue bae pae sheen,
Wostouer wann wath manz toofanas, mae jahanas annigot gov

(The hills and mountains are awaiting
since twilight for the autumn to pass, and for the snow to fall.
Slipped into a catastrophe, darkness has consumed my absolute world)

Translated by Mir Yasir Mukhtar

The above stanza from “Khuaftan Baange” (translated “By the Call to Night’s Prayer”) has been mesmerizing me towards an unusual state of mind. I sit in the zoondaeb, a cantilevered balcony designed to view the moon, cozily warming my hands with my kangri (an earthen firepot we Kashmiris use to keep warm in winters). Outside the window, I catch a sight of the chinar trees morphed by autumn, and I can feel nothing more than the truth of my entire life unfold itself before me.

Autumn, a season of fall, is not only a season but the embodiment of memories, agony, melancholy, ripeness and ushering of a closure. Cold breeze, hazy weather and gloomy skies converge to make autumn Kashmir’s best season of all four—the chinar leaves seem to be set on fire, with each leaf resembling a flame. The colour autumn presages the cold and dead winter that fast approaches in the Himalayas, many times in ways that are unparalleled. Blossoms adorned and grown in a row start to shed their texture. However, some remain like brave hearts and some die like dreams. But the crimson texture of autumn still chants the songs of hope.

In the middle of this silent change that crawls at a snail’s pace, I find myself astonished by how it manifests in nature as I perceive that our life is not so diverse from it. Working for years in photography since my teenage years, I have developed an eye for visual elements, space, objects but also a deep connection with a silence that acts as a conduit for meditation and observation of the aforementioned by more importantly of the impact of time on all things.

My mind wanders towards fluctuations, transformations, dislocations, lapses, and other folds and leaps. I find myself thinking deeply about how to observe time and its effect on our natural world, an anachronistic view or frame needs to occupy the eye of the beholder. One must exit time or in the least take a step back from existing in its bubble to be perceptually suspended for a moment to be able to observe the morphing of the natural world from when things leave the form and material substance they occupied into a becoming something else. Here, in observing time play its role, I look at the natural forces and see gravity announcing to the wind the arrival of autumn, and thus, fall commences.

Coming out of my chain of thoughts and surfing through the internet, I see that poets have portrayed this season through ethereal words, musicians have framed it in their surreal notes, painters have stroked it on their canvas, photographers have created history by freezing moments  and lovers and loners have played their parts as well.

Standing still for a while, I step forth barefoot, crushing leaves as I feel them beneath my feet—one tends to ‘fall’ into the awareness of the other side of autumn as a season of fragility. The unrealistic facet of autumn remains in the view on this walk, as do the scenes, and as do the splendorous miracles of nature’s unfolding and crumbling into another season.

Chinar trees are reflected on the stream in the middle of Nishat Garden in Srinagar. (Photo by Mir Yasir Mukhtar/Inverse Journal)

Kashmiris walk under the chinar trees in Nishat Garden in Srinagar. (Photo by Mir Yasir Mukhtar/Inverse Journal)

Kashmiri boys play cricket under the chinar trees in Nishat Garden in Srinagar. (Photo by Mir Yasir Mukhtar/ Inverse Journal)

An elderly Kashmiri man sweeps the fallen chinar leaves in Nishat Garden in Srinagar. Later the leaves are used to make fire. (Photo by Mir Yasir Mukhtar/ Inverse Journal)

School girls enjoy the autumn with one another as it has been a good season for picnics. Schools that are mostly far from the Srinagar bring their students and staff to enjoy the scenic beauty of the Mughal gardens. (Photo by Mir Yasir Mukhtar/ Inverse Journal)

A family of four walks under the shades of chinar trees as the tunnel has become a spot for people to make memories in Nishat Bagh.
(Photo by Mir Yasir Mukhtar/ Inverse Journal)

Kashmiri boys warm themselves by burning the dried chinar leaves while sitting on a large branch in Nishat Garden. (Photo by Mir Yasir Mukhtar / Inverse Journal)

School girls pose for a picture as they rejoice over each other’s company and capture the moment. (Photo by Mir Yasir Mukhtar/ Inverse Journal)

A view of the garden at sunset. (Photo by Mir Yasir Mukhtar/ Inverse Journal)

Sunsets in autumn season are very gloomy, and make for a moment when loners and lovers sit and watch the setting sun looking into the horizon for new hope as the day begins its end. (Photo by Mir Yasir Mukhtar/Inverse Journal)

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About the Contributor

<a href="" target="_self">Mir Yasir Mukhtar</a>

Mir Yasir Mukhtar

Mir Yasir Mukhtar is a freelance photojournalist based in Kashmir. He is developing his craft and skillset while looking to learn and further a career in the photographic industry. Yasir has captured day-to-day events in Kashmir, specializing in people’s movement, human portraits, nature landscapes and documentary features. Yasir has recently been published by Free Press Kashmir, VICE Magazine, Inverse Journal, Kashmir Observer, Mountain Ink Magazine, PARI Education and other publications from Kashmir.