Amrita Pritam at 100: Political, progressive and a true pioneer – Prism

Full of spring, the writer adorned and refined our lives with her prose and poetry throughout the twentieth century.

‘There was a pain

I consume in silence

Like a cigarette

There are some poems

I've shaken like ashes

Of the cigarette

Amrita Pritam, who was born 100 years ago in Gujranwala (now in present-day Pakistan) was one of those brightest personalities of the Progressive Writers Movement, of which we can be proud.

She was a true pioneer of our time. She suffered the cultural and political environments, springs and autumns of this unfortunate century, which means all her pleasures and pains, on herself and considers that her ashes are sindoor, dressed and smoothed the hair part.

Even after being burned in the fire of our infernal society, this woman full of spring, youth and dignity did not burn or wither; but it appeared before us, clean and pure as the best gold. As one poet said: "The eternal fragrance of our garden of beauty and love".

This poet full of spring adorned and refined our lives with her prose and poetry throughout the twentieth century: she leveled our rocky paths and gave us a lesson and a gift to live life, gave us love.

Amrita Pritam, of course, found fame as a poet of the Punjabi language. And the circle of fame of his poetry is as broad as that of the Punjabi language itself.

It is a reality that until the independence of India and the formation of Pakistan, she did not have the popularity and fame she achieved after moving to India. In Pakistan, his self and his poetry became famous after the appearance of his legendary poem. Aj Aaakhan Waris Shah Nu ("I tell Waris Shah today").

This poem, correctly acclaimed as the song of the Punjab, was written as a natural reaction to the division of Punjab and the riots and bloodshed that occurred here. This poem greatly affected people and became the identity of Pritam in the twentieth century:

‘I tell Waris Shah today, speak from your grave

And let a new page unfold from the womb of the Book of Love.

Only one daughter of Punjab's problems made your regrets flow

A million daughters cry today, and they implore you

Get up chronicler of pain and presence your Punjab

Where corpses sprout in the fields and blood flows through the Chenab. "

However, almost 14 years after Pritam's death, it can be said that the circle of fame of his poetry would have been even greater on the condition that mutual relations between Punjabi and Urdu be more cordial.

Until the moment in which the relations between these two languages ​​are not cordial, a poet of one language cannot reach popularity in the circle of another language to which he is entitled.

One should expect that as the veils rise gradually, it becomes easier to familiarize each other.

It is true that while Amrita Pritam was alive, on some occasions, a reflection of her poetry would appear on the screen of Urdu journalism; but poetry is, however, poetry.

Transferring it to the words of another language, as some people like the great Urdu poet Fahmida Riaz had also tried with Pritam's poetry, is above all very difficult; but even if it were possible to do so, the most we would say would be that the words of one language were transferred to the words of another language: the real is the meaning; transfer the meaning of one language to another in a way that makes all the sensory perceptions of the poet really impossible.

In fact, in the presence of this matter, even if Urdu and Punjabi's mutual relations became cordial, in fact it is difficult for all the qualities of Pritam's poetry to be revealed to Urdu's readers.

The issue is even more suspicious in English, I am raising the question of the translation of Amrita Pritam's works into Urdu (and, by extension, English) because I am not only a translator, but I depend openly on the existing translations of her work to other languages. The Hindi and non-Punjabi languages ​​as the Urdu for writing this humble centennial tribute, not being a native Hindu or Punjabi reader of Gurmukhi despite living in Punjab for most of four decades.

Paper and canvas by Amrita Pritam.

In addition, there is a need to translate your selected work into English for this tribute, for the humblest attempt to present your work to a global audience that is not familiar with this great writer of the twentieth century, however unfortunate it may be.

But the dilemma I discussed earlier is only limited to poetry. Prose is largely, if not totally, free from this understanding.

A writer of one language may present his prose perfections in fact in another language. It only takes hard work and method or those ordinary resources, to achieve what is not difficult.

Very few Urdu fans know that Pritam was not just a poet, but an accepted author and a short story writer of the Punjabi language.

In the background of the previous facts, if his poetry cannot be transferred to Urdu and English, much better, since the translations of his stories have struggled to compensate for this necessary compulsion.

Literature of all ages is affected by the intellectual, moral, economic and political tendencies of its time. Time is an ocean, and moral and social values ​​are the waves of this ocean. There are very few writers who can determine an independent address for their ship. They give themselves to these waves; Actually this should not happen. Writers are not humble straws that flow with the support of the waves; They are brave sailors who run their caravan breaking the waves.

Unfortunately, very few writers have estimated their power and responsibility; Countless writers lose their trail. They do not guide people, but follow them. A true writer cannot become a follower of popular passions, in fact he will be a leader.

The news is delicate for authors and story writers. The demands of the people are very low; Moral values ​​have fallen a lot.

"Progressive literature," which is now more appropriately called "regressive literature," has spoiled its taste. Third level movies, stories and novels have created extremely cheap tastes among them.

A class of so-called writers and short story authors, taking advantage of this mentality among people, is creating a lower quality literature. They have adopted a criminal oversight towards their responsibilities.

The revenue stamp of Amrita Pritam.

Joan Porter has said: "The splendor and grandeur of a country according to Johnson is due to its writers. But only when the writers are the prophets of reason. If they do not receive lessons in exemplary behavior, then there should be a necklace of curses around his neck instead of a wreath. ”

How painful is the confession of this fact that the new crop of our "progressive" writers will really deserve the "curse necklace" according to future generations.

In this desperate atmosphere, if a writer or poet maintains a perception of one's responsibilities and, instead of walking behind people, considers the latter's leadership to be their right, then he or she undoubtedly deserves respect and honor. extraordinary

So, when we reviewed Amrita Pritam's poetry and her stories from this point of view, we necessarily concluded that she had a deep perception of her poetic and literary responsibilities.

She had been less affected by the "progressive" course of her contemporary poets and writers. For this write, for example, the earthly image he has portrayed of the leader of the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia in his poem. Lenin Ke Naam (For Lenin) it is much more progressive, therefore preferable that the most discouraged representations of the same by his more doctrinal contemporaries:

‘You, what a beautiful character you are from my story

Who leaves the calendar on my wall, always changes its date

And it comes to meet me in the form of a new morning

After leaving the calendar, you go outside.

And a sun appears

Wherever there is a soft corner, start laughing like a green leaf.

Wherever there is a dirty corner, he is really ashamed

But what is natural for you is an unnatural history process

The story takes a breath of comfort

When it becomes really disturbed to dwell in the past

Then it's about the present

So, for the sake of this story

Many times I have jailed you on the calendar

And similarly I placed the seal of the pact of my land

And I've nailed the nails of so many "isms" on him

But you leave the calendar on my wall, change the date every day

And with new anxiety, new salvation in the hand.

You – know me as a new day

Yours – the greatness of a new day

As if a shady corner of my being had heard a couple of your sun

And that is an unnatural process of history

But what is natural to you has become unnatural to me. "

The short stories of Amrita Pritam as her poems are rich in the best moral values. There is not a single short story that can be censored from the point of view of modesty and morals.

They contain all the elements. His characters are ordinary human characters. Although she was not the owner of fame because of her stories, even a bird's eye view of these stories will lead us to conclude that Pritam had benefited from all the qualities of story writing.

He could examine, think and narrate its meaning in an excellent style with skill and art. Not only did he manage with the direct observation of events, but he also performed a psychological analysis of each character in his story. An "emotional analysis" of human life was also prominent in each of his short stories.

Amrita Pritam kept looking for new themes for short stories and was very successful. His ideas were unusual; Your modern roads. His "ideal" was constructive, not destructive.

Like his poems, in his stories it was also seen that he was giving a "message" to his readers. His message was of life and love.

His short stories were short in the real sense. Some short stories, like couplets, seemed shorter than necessary. The reader wants them to be more detailed.

In this regard, her example Choti Kahani ("Brief history") of his collection Chabees Saal Baad ("26 years later"), definitely published before 1947 from Lahore by Lahore Book Shop, can be cited here.

In just four pages, Pritam summed up the whole philosophy of "art for life" and the idea of ​​selfless love with a surprising economy of words and a minimal dialogue between the two central characters.

Google Doodle on the occasion of the centenary of Amrita Pritam.

Without a doubt, if his stories were not so short, Pritam's pen had the power to increase his attraction by giving the abbreviation a detail color.

But this is simply the aesthetic demand of this tribute writer, it is not necessary that each reader fully agree with his opinion. I am sure that a rereading of Pritam's short stories about his birth centenary would establish it on a prominent pedestal in subcontinental literature.

Amrita Pritam was, therefore, the modern spirit of Punjab's popular, spiritual, mythological and poetic literature in the twentieth century.

His intonation and punjabi style was very close to the urdu of punjab; she dealt with Urdu words exactly in the manner of the people of my native Lahore, and in fact this assignment made her the touch of an undivided voice. With her. The description of the truths of life was extremely current. He painted the internal struggle of man with such witchcraft that the reader could not help but be fascinated.

Any tribute to Amrita Pritam will not be complete without an anecdote from Lahore, the city that made her home as a teenager after her hometown of Gujranwala, and was forced to leave after the horrors of the Partition. It involves Rauf Malik, 92, one of the last living witnesses of the generation who produced characters such as Pritam and his contemporaries.

He is the younger brother of the legendary leader and communist writer of Pakistan, Abdullah Malik (whose centenary of birth will be celebrated next year); and he was the owner of the Peoples Publishing House, which played a fundamental role in the propagation of the progressive and socialist idea in Pakistan, often at some extremely difficult times in the country's history.

The autobiography of Malik Junior Surkh Siyasat (& # 39; Red Politics & # 39;), which is no less a historical document of its time, was launched in Lahore with much fanfare in 2018 and contains a tribute, among others, to Amrita Pritam.

In that chapter, Malik informs us that he was the first appropriate editor of the Pritam poetry collection in Pakistan, which was titled Ship Ruth ("New season"), compiled at the request of the poet. This is the only volume of his poetry published in Pakistan with his express permission and consent.

Given the tensions between India and Pakistan over the recent revocation of the special status of Kashmir by the Indian government, it will be able to conclude this tribute with Tamghe ("Medals"), one of his scathing controversies about the futility of pseudo-nationalist patriotism, waving the flag, which I suspect Amrita Pritam always suspected:

‘Brave are the people of my nation

The brave are the people of your nation

They simply know death and murder.

Offering heads as a libation of sacrifice

That the head is never own

It is a separate conversation

This man is a corpse

Rare as the body of God

So when in the middle of man

This piece of God's land

go dead

Then its unpleasant smell

Never gets up

There is no lover

And neither is proximity a fear

No danger of pain

Just an edge that is a bigger domain

He makes fun of them

Remove those edges that do not fit the rule.

Then all victory is free from interruptions

And the whole party is free of obstructions.

In the lip of time a smile

And looking at his bosom

Many valuable, impotent, insane medals

All translations of Urdu are the writer's own.

This article originally appeared on The Wire and has been reproduced with permission.



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