Meet Haleema Qadri, the ‘illiterate’ poet from Budgam

  • Mukhtar Dar
  • Publish Date: Aug 19 2018 10:09PM
  • |
  • Updated Date: Aug 19 2018 10:09PM
Meet Haleema Qadri, the ‘illiterate’ poet from Budgam

She never held a pen nor can she read a word. But, breaking these barriers, Haleema has come up with her splendid collection of Kashmiri poetry


Kashmir has a history of producing poets from different backgrounds whose poetry is resonating in every corner of the valley. Well, a humble attempt in contemporary era has been made by Heleema Qadri.

She was born in a poor family of Sugin village in Khag tehsil of Budgam district and married at early age to artisan namely Ghulam Ahmad Teli in Churamujra village.

Haleema Teli, 43, is her actual name but she assumes ‘Qadri’ to depict her commitment towards Sufism.

Though her book has been named after the Prophet but the poems in the book are about diverse subjects, though mostly mystic in nature.

The process of preparing the poems is interesting but cumbersome. She compiles poems in her heart and later approaches the people who write Kashmiri to put her creation in ink and paper.

Being literally illiterate and having no contacts make her helpless. She visited different offices but found no help to publish her poetry collection.

Ultimately, she sold her domestic animals and some trees for Rs 80000 to publish her work in 2014, which pushes her family into economic crises, she recalls.

Poetry is in the veins of Kashmiri women which they get in inheritance, says Haleema. From Lal Ded to present day women poets’ desires, feelings and questions to patriarchy setup is boldly resonating in their poems and she is carrying this legacy forward. 

Heleema was born in poverty, grew up illiterate and is living a married life without a child; the pain is conspicuous in her poetry. 

As she said, “Poetry is spontaneous expression of yearnings and emotions coming out in the shape of couplets." 

Like other poets her art is echoing her struggle, feelings and emotions. 

Her poems give the glimpse of ordinary Kashmiri women's beliefs and occupations by using innovative expressions and common Kashmiri  words such as einder, wariv, maluin, etc.

Besides, the Bagwan and Rahman in her poetry is a secular message. Her special reverence for saints depicts the tradition of Kashmiri women which she is carrying forward. 

Though her gazals are simple in language and charged with mystic thoughts but commonplace phrases gul-o-bulbul, shama parwana, laila majnoon etc. are present in her poetry. 

Haleema believes that she is not the only one who has done it without knowing how to read and write. “Kashmir has produced a number of such poets but their poetry vanished in thin air after their death. This motivated me to publish my work,” she explains.

“Their is major contribution of such poets in keeping alive Kashmiri language and poetry. Government should initiate policies to preserve their creative work which could help them reach a wider audience,” Haleema suggests.