Turn the pages of modern history and see how many women have actually brought a revolution in thoughts, in love, and in life through writings. Very few, isn’t it? And if there had to be one woman among them all to top the list, it would definitely be Amrita Pritam.
Pic courtesy: http://www.azquotes.com
Amrita Kaur, better known as Amrita Pritam, was born on August 31, 1919, in Gujranwala, Pakistan. She lost her mother when she was only 11 years old and that is when she put into words all her grief. At the age of 16, she got her first book published, Amrit Lehran, an anthology of poems and got married to Pritam Singh, an editor, around this time.
“खुदा जाने —
उसने कैसी तलब पी थी
बिजली की लकीर की तरह
उसने मुझे देखा ,
तुम किसी से रास्ता न मांगना
और किसी भी दिवार को
हाथ न लगाना
न ही घबराना
न किसी के बहलावे में आना
बादलों की भीड़ में से
तुम पवन की तरह गुजर जाना ….”
Her poems were mostly romantic but gradually she got influenced by the feminist movements and so did her writing. She played an important role in the ‘Progressive Writer’s Movement’ and had a critical way of analyzing every event around her. She penned down her thoughts on the war-torn economy after the Bengal famine in 1943, criticising the failures of those who ruled.
“बरसों की आरी हंस रही थी
घटनाओं के दांत नुकीले थे
अकस्मात एक पाया टूट गया
आसमान की चौकी पर से
शीशे का सूरज फिसल गया
आंखों में ककड़ छितरा गये
और नजर जख्मी हो गयी
कुछ दिखायी नहीं देता
दुनिया शायद अब भी बसती है”
She migrated to Delhi after partition and settled there, got involved in various literary and social events like the Guru Radha Kishan’s initiative to put together the first Janta Library in New Delhi, worked at Punjabi service of All India Radio in New Delhi for some years. It was during partition that she witnessed blood shed and hatred like never before. She put all her disturbances on paper in a poem called Ajj akhaan waris shah nu pleading the Sufi saint Waris Shah to witness the wrath (YouTube link below) describing the plights of refugees, she herself being one during the partition.
Her novel Pinjar came out in 1950 which talked about all the atrocities and exploitations a woman had to face during partition, from molestation to rape to abduction and what not! This book was later made into an award winning movie Pinjar. Amrita went deep into feminism and such movements during the 1960s. She wrote various other novels like Kaal Chetna, Agyat Nimantran, Kaala Gulab, Rasidi Ticket, and Akshar ke sayee.
Pic courtesy: http://www.goodreads.com
She was one of the most versatile writers, Hindi literature had ever had. Her bold and edgy personality reflected quite clear in all her works. She won accolades for her novels; Sahitya Academi Award for Sunehey in 1956, Padma Vibhushan in 2004, Bharatiya Jnanipath Award for Kagaj ke Canvas in 1982.
“गर्म घूँट इक तुम भी पीना,
गर्म घूँट इक मैं भी पी लूँ
उम्र का ग्रीष्म हमने बिता दिया,
उम्र का शिशिर नहीं बीतता”
Her personal life though was as melancholic as joyful her professional life was. Her married life saw too many obstacles and she decided to get separated from her husband in 1960. She later spent last 40 years of life with Imroz who she was in a romantic relationship with but her love for Sahir Ludhianvi wasn’t hidden from many, too. She even mentioned about her feelings for Sahir Ludhianvi in her book, Rasidi Ticket.
Pic courtesy: http://www.scroll.in
“अब रात घिरने लगी तो तूं मिला है
तूं भी उदास, चुप, शान्त और अडोल
मैं भी उदास, चुप, शान्त और अडोल
सिर्फ- दूर बहते समुन्द्र में तूफान है”
Her poems reach us step by step and stays still in our hearts. There, in fact, aren’t any words to describe how soothing her words truly are. They do something to you. It gives you the feeling that falling in love does; No, no butterflies in the stomach, but a deep sense of peace and warmth. Long live Amrita Pritam.
“मैं तुझे फ़िर मिलूंगी
कहाँ किस तरह पता नही
शायद तेरी तख्यिल की चिंगारी बन
तेरे केनवास पर उतरुंगी
या तेरे केनवास पर
एक रहस्यमयी लकीर बन
खामोश तुझे देखती रहूंगी
या फ़िर सूरज कि लौ बन कर
तेरे रंगो में घुलती रहूंगी
या रंगो कि बाहों में बैठ कर
तेरे केनवास से लिपट जाउंगी
पता नहीं कहाँ किस तरह
पर तुझे जरुर मिलूंगी”
Her letters to Imroz she wrote when she was away:
७ जनवरी १९८३
हैरान हूं-छ: जनवरी को देखा सपना क्या सचमुच किसी भविष्य की पेशीनगोई था… आज फरवरी की चौबीस तारीख है, और सुन रही हूं कि नवराज की बीवी को हमल है… घर में अपना सपना सुनाया था, इसलिए आज कंदला पूछ रही है कि जो बच्चा मैंने बादलों के कंबलों में सोया हुआ देखा था, वह लड़का था या लड़की ? मैंने सिर्फ बच्चा देखा था,यह नही कि वह लड़का है या लड़की……. न इस समय सोच रही हूं कि वह जरुर लड़का हो। बच्चे की आमद मुबारक है,चाहे वह लड़का हो या लड़की……
Read more at http://www.rachanakar.org/2008/06/blog-post_12.html
Or you can visit http://amritapritamhindi.blogspot.in/2008/06/blog-post_05.html for more of her works and letters and her less known life of love and romance.
Pic courtesy: http://www.quint.com
On her birth anniversary today, I hope wherever she is, she’s happy and still creating tornadoes with her storms and words. Amrita Pritam, you’re for sure a roar of love and valor. Hopefully, you’re blessing us all poets here with your essence and knowledge through all these works. Poetry lovers out there! She’s definitely someone you have to read if you haven’t!
Credits: Sweta Mishra