Amrita Pritam

Surjit Pattar, perhaps the finest Punjabi poet and writer today on the east of the border, remembers Amrita Pritam:

Amrita Pritam is no more. It’s as if the five rivers of Punjab are dead – Ravi is no more, nor is Chenab. Amrita Pritam was like the five rivers which make Punjab. She made Punjabi literature.

Her name, those two words – Amrita Pritam – will always be music to the ears of Punjabi literature lovers. When it comes to 20th century Punjabi poetry, we can debate who should be the sun but when it comes to the moon, there is no discord. Amrita Pritam, who passed away quietly in her home at Hauz Khas, New Delhi, is undoubtedly the moon of the 20th century Punjabi poetry, and this moon never needed to borrow someone else’s light. She had so much light of her own that many like us glowed in it.

Amrita Pritam represented both the Charhda (Indian) and the Lehnda (Pakistan) Punjab. Her poems gave voice to the pain of women who had hitherto woven their sufferings into folk songs sung softly behind voluminous veils. She was also the pathos of Partition. No poet could parallel her when it came to pouring ts agony into words . Her lines Aj akhan Waris Shah nuun, kitho uth kabran cho bol… have been immortalised in both the Punjabs.

Nirupama Dutt sums up the life and art of Amrita Pritam:

In her lifetime, Amrita authored over 100 books of poetry, fiction, biography and essays. In one of her last poems written from the sick bed, she consoled her love Imroz by saying, ‘Main tainu phir milagi…’ (I will meet you yet again). This is the promise she made to her soul mate but she will yet meet us all again through her writings. For today on Divali eve she has passed out of history into legend to stand in the row of poets like Meera Bai, Rabia and Lal Ded.

A very comprehensive compilation at indianwriting.

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