A Motivational account of a Punjabi-rebel and a feminist named Amrita Pritam was not just a name but a mirror that has always reflected the accurate picture of the society and especially the women society of her era. She was a poet by heart and courageous enough to portray the agony and pain of Indian women in her work in a dominant male society.

Thousands of lightning, millions of storms will come; those flowers will bloom, which are meant to flourish.

Striking, fascinating, and passionate to the heart, the account of Amrita’s existence is one of astonishing bravery, resilience, and triumph. Searching for freedom and living life on her terms sets her apart from the rest of her period’s personalities. Moreover, she has also depicted an accurate picture of truth in her work that most other poets are afraid to convey. Her famous poem Aj Aaakhan Waris Shah Nu (I say to Waris Shah today) is an elegy for Punjab and was composed as an actual reaction to Punjab and bloodshed. The poem was celebrated in Pakistan as well as in India and later became an identity of hers.

Amrita Pritam broke new ground of her age and also suffered the traditional and political impact. The woman was full of spring, and her pride didn’t wither away or scorch even after burning in the hellish fire of patriarch society; instead, she came forward chaste and vivid like gold. She ornamented the life of readers from her poetry all through the twentieth century. She cultivated a rocky pathway of the reader’s life with her empowering poetic works and gave us a message and a style for living life.

Pritam encountered difficulties at her early age-

Her parents were always devoted to God, especially her father. He remained to submerge in the supremacy of God and religion during their complete life. They also wanted her to think and behave in the same religious rituals. Hence, she also tried to pack her thoughts from their thoughts.

When Amrita Pritam was just eleven years old, her mother was stricken with poor health, and her state turned severe. The relatives and acquaintances of her family told Pritam to stand beside her mother and pray to God for her health. She did the same. She stood there, folded her hands, shut her eyes, and kept on requesting God not to take away her mother.

Amrita Pritam - 1948
Amrita Pritam – 1948

Her relatives advised her that God never denies and ignores a child’s prayers, and she also strongly have faith in this. Then she realized her mother’s murmur altered into silence, so she thinks her prayers were fulfilled, and her mother was now fine. Although she came to know later that her mother had gone, she left no belief in God. Later after this incident, she never asked God anything also never prayed, even after a lot of her father’s demands.

Pritam was mentally fierce and poet by heart

Hundreds of years back in Gujranwala, a well-known personality, Amrita Pritam, was born. She was a leading face of a progressive writer’s movement. For her, literature was life, and life was literature; hence both are the same path.  Each of her poems gives some social and moral message to the reader.

Amrita Pritam managed to create space for her poetic works among male poets like Mohan Singh and Shiv Kumar. Her approach to break-down social customs and stereotypes was so open that she also received the fury of several dominating forces of her time. But she was strong by her will and never weakened from the path she has chosen. She was a woman, a litterateur who proves our patriarchal society’s literary world of being passionate and severe.

Pritam was Rebellion by birth

Pritam was very perspicacious in her childhood and observed the unusual tendency of her grandmother. Her grandma used to hold three glasses distinctly on one shelf of her kitchen.

Grandma used those glasses to serve drinks, tea, and water to a class of guests, Muslims. She opposed her custom of treating Muslims aloof from other guests and firmly asked her to serve tea and water only in those glasses. Later on, the tradition of having a separate drink was rejected in her house. By this, Amrita, a resistance, could manage to win her initial revolt.

Perhaps because of her revolting nature, she could be able to compose some of her compositions ahead of her age. Amrita Pritam was recognised for her daring, fearless, and radical works throughout her life. There are many of her writings that were opposed by a group of people, newspapers, and writers of her period. Due to this, she even has to face the legal system once. She accepts all her criticism with a big heart. Also, never let her ‘pen’ and her writings scared and faltered from the many challenges that continued knocking her.

Pritam always take critique on the chin

A well-known Indian author Mr. Khushwant Singh, earlier ludicrous, said to Pritam what will be there in her biography. He noted how many events would be there, two or one! Then the memoir could be well suited to print on the end of a revenue stamp and inadequately has an area of 2X2.5 cm. When she ultimately wrote down her journal, she presented her number of ideas and encounters in it and called her book “Revenue Stamp.”

Pritam had a Strong and Courageous Voice

Literary Giant - Amrita Pritam
Literary Giant – Amrita Pritam

In March 1986, there was a conference happened, and Chief Ministers of all the States were invited. In that conference, four non-government fellows, counting Amrita Pritam, were also requested. Through the meeting, Amrita Pritam stated that-

“A time was there when noticing the scary casteism bent in Kerala and Swami Vivekanand referred that state ‘Mental Asylum.’ At present, I need to mention that we are converting all states into Asylum for maniacs. This is a big-time to look into our inner self and try discovering a jewel of interaction.” 

The statement was very heroic to be delivered up the front of the chief ministers of each state. When ten days passed, Pritam received a call from the prime minister’s department at that time, Shri Rajiv Gandhi, calling asking her permission to be put up as a part of Parliament in Rajya Sabha, i.e., Upper House. Hence, when she became a member of parliament, she never stopped to raise questions about various social concerns.

Pritam was in a quest of Probity and Longing of Love

Amrita Pritam got married at the age of 16, but her marriage didn’t flourish and was successful. She got divorced in 1960.  She always had chased an imagined man of her dream and makes him ideal. She had a vision of loving a man whose sketch she had drawn in her heart, poems, and thoughts throughout her childhood.

Instead of having trouble with her marriage life, she ended it as her search for love and dream man always kept nudging her. After that, she fell profoundly in love with Indian poet and Film Lyricist Sahir Ludhianvi. The intensity of her Love for Sahir can be assumed from two incidents.

Once, she was at an occasion for her book launch. A photographer asked her photograph to be posted in the newspaper. He asked Prima to give a pose as if she was indulging in writing a piece of her work. She kept on scribbling on a piece of paper until the photographer was done with taking that pose to capture the moment. Later when she saw the article where only one thing was written, “Sahir, Sahir, Sahir, Sahir, Sahir……..”.

Second, Sahir Ludhianvi used to pay a visit to her home in those days where they used to talk for a long time. After his departure, Amrita would light the cigarette butts left behind by him and smoke to feel his presence for some more time.

The love story of Amrita Pritam and Sahir Ludhianvi was like an open book. They both remained in a relationship for a long time but did not get married. When Sahir Ludhianvi lived in Mumbai, he fell in love with a Singer and Actress, Sudha Malhotra. Ever since, Amrita’s loneliness, agony, and sadness turned out to be a crucial element of her writings. Pritam also came across a mental breakdown and went for sittings with the psychiatrist. During that period of time, a man named Imroz, who was a painter, came into her life.

She weaved a relationship with Imroz and remained together for the rest of their lives and being loved.

Throughout her life, a pain for not being able to search for the truth of her life in the form of the love of her soul resided over her heart. The disappointment of meeting Imroz at the very late stage of her life was also mentioned in her autobiography.

Raised the voice toward injustice against women

Story of Amrita Pritam
Story of Amrita Pritam

Gradually, she became a voice of complete women society and fans the flames of revolution in her female readers’ minds against the social standard formulated by male-chauvinistic society and were off the beam and unfair for women. ‘Night’ and ‘The Scar’ are the two of her poem that speaks the norm of Indian society, maternity, pregnancy, marriage, and the innate gendered brutality within heteronormative affairs.

Pritam is also best recognised for her great formation and an eternal poem, “Ajj Aakhan Warish Shah Nu.” It articulates the sadness of millions of women, who not just lost their land, dwelling, or people but their dreams, their love, their longings, and their spirit during the problematic phase of migration, mass abductions, rapes, and murders at the time of India’s partition.

In an interview, Pritam fearlessly stated the discrimination between male and female poets. She said literature has a prejudice against women, and men who doubt women’s work also take it lightly. She gave an instance when she won the ‘Sahitya Academy Award,’ and a magazine wrote that the popularity of Pritam is because of her beauty. Further, she said that a patriarchal society is only known for her beauty, but they hardly admire it when it comes to talent. Therefore, she considered its sexual politics.

Amrita has successfully highlighted such an idea with all the cleverness of a protagonist looking to transform social standards. She has been ahead when it came to challenging all that was obsolete and outmoded in Indian society. Often, one may not consent to her explanations, but one has to admit that her writings set the ball rolling so far as confronting wrong in society.

Amrita didn’t get the sophistication in her work in a day or two but since the age of eleven. She started writing poetry when her mother passed, and under the guidance of her father, who himself was a poet, she learned to write poetry. Later she became a pompous author of an anthology named ‘Amrita Lehran‘ in 1936.

The muse of her spirit was so much in her grip that she introduced half a dozen poems between the periods of 1936 to 1943. The pitch of her poetry was decent, moralistic, and romantic. It was misted up in spiritual overtones, with a scale of softness in form and diction.

Many people discover her significance when her soul departed from this world, but it goes to most writers. The legacy, ideology, and voice that Pritam left with us still breaks the current situation and helps us rise above the patriarchal social values. No tribute to Amrita Pritam will be complete without a story from Lahore, the place she made her home after leaving her native city of Gujranwala and compelled to run off after the terror of the Partition.

Amrita Pritam - Poems and Stories
Amrita Pritam – Poems and Stories

This post is incomplete without sharing the excerpts of the poem, which became a synonym of Amrita Pritam:

 

“Only you can speak from the grave

To Waris Shah, she was I say

Add another page to your epic of love

Today.”

Amrita Pritam

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