LAHORE: The leading 20th century Punjabi poetess, novelist and essayist, Amrita Pritam will be remembered on her 12th death anniversary. To pay tribute to the famous writer, the World Punjabi Congress (WPC) will organise an international conference in Lahore on Tuesday.
Amrita was born in Gujranwala in United India on 31st August in 1919 to a Sikh school teacher who was a poet and a Sikh preacher. Being the only child of the family, she embraced the first shock in her life at the age of 11 when her mother died which added to her sensitivity and that was the start of her story about dreams and bitter realizations. She was growing into a willful woman who refused to accept differential treatment of lower castes in her home. Hailing from an Orthodox family, she was married at the age of 16 to a businessman named Pritam Singh and became Amrita Pritam and coincidently, that same year her first collection of verses was published.
Pritam not only read history but also she witnessed history in the making. She became the part of that history of 1947, witnessing the killing of thousands of inculpable people, Hindus, Muslims or Sikhs. The events that happened at the time of partition of India badly shattered the young Pritam. She depicted the sorrows and pains of that time in her famous poem;
Aj aakhaan Waris Shah nu,
kiton qabra’n wichu’n bol,
Te aj kitab-e-ishq da
Koi agla warqa phol
(Warish Shah I call out you, Rise from your grave, Speak out and turn, Another page of the book of love)
This very poem of her is considered as one of her foremost works.
She was a feminist and believed, “When the man denies the power of women, he is denying his own sub-consciousness because man’s outer side is male but the inner side is female.”
She used to say, “The concept of God is half man and half woman. That means when they combine the whole a human being is created.”
The chairman of WPC, Fakhar Zaman said that Amrita lived her life in a bold and courageous way and was not like other women. Talking to Pakistan Today, he said that she was not just a woman but a great historian, who through her work presented the true picture of society and the happenings she observed. “Pritam was the personality to be remembered forever but unfortunately now Punjabis are unfamiliar to her,” he said and blamed the rulers of government who made deprived the Punjabi people of their own mother tongue—Punjabi.
Zaman, who had various meetings with Amrita, was of the view that Amrita Pritam should also be included in Punjabi syllabus as she had produced a great work.
Amrita wrote more than 100 books including poetry and fiction. Pinjar, Doctor Dev, Sagar and Seepian, Rang Ka Patta, Dilli Ki Galiyan, Terahwan Suraj, Kahaniyan jo Kahaniyan Nahi, Kahaniyon ke Angan Mein and her autobiography Rasidi Ticket are notable. She was awarded numerous prizes for her literary service, including the Padma Vibhushan Award, Sahitya Academi Award, Bharatiya Jnanpith Award and the Padam Shri.