Sunday, November 08, 2009

Ik si Amrita, Ik hai Imroz - A Love Story Revisited

The following Article is taken from The Tribune. To read the original article please click here.


It was the ideal woman-man relationship of our times. Punjabi writers share fond reflections with Nirupama Dutt
of the bond of love that held poet Amrita Pritam and painter Imroz together for a lifetime


People are trying to explore live-in relationships and society is trying to learn to accept such unconventional ties. But more than forty years ago there was this gutsy girl from Gujranwala and a dreamy boy born in Chak No: 36, near Lyallpur, who defied all convention and chose to live together in a brick-and-stone house lined with dreams just because they loved each other. What is more, this bond of love stood firm in the face of storms and it retained its intensity and beauty until the dying day.

No, I am wrong here for even death has not the power to do them part. One is talking, of course, of Punjab’s celebrated poet Amrita Pritam and her lifetime companion painter Imroz.

Pal Kaur, Ambala-based Punjabi poet, says: “It was the ideal relationship of our times. It was a coming together of two souls who complemented each other and it was a spiritual bond if there even could be one.”

For Amrita it was the realisation of the dream of finding true love. The lady of letters had recorded the experience of finding Imroz in the second volume of her autobiography called “Shadows of Words”, which is a sequel to her famed life story title “The Revenue Stamp”. She wrote that there was once a shadow in her dreams of a man standing by a window and painting a canvas. This dream would return night after night for long years. In her own words: “Then something happened. Someone suggested that an artist called Imroz design the cover of a book of mine. The shadow turned into a man. Love may be a cup of poison but I had chosen to sip it again.”

Those, who have seen the two live together in bliss day after day in their Delhi home, K-25 Hauz Khas, know that it was not poison but nectar divine that the two had tasted together. In that house with gray stonewalls on which bougainvillea trailed, they lived out their dreams. Patiala’s Punjabi poet Manjit Tiwana says: “Their relationship surpassed even that of Sartre and Simone. For one Amrita and Imroz shared the same home and unlike Sartre Imroz showed greater devotion till the very end. Every Punjabi woman writer longed to be loved by an Imroz but perhaps you have to be an Amrita to get an Imroz.”

True! The “Haar-Singhar” tree in their patch of green was witness to the blossoming and ripening of their love. Poetry had met painting, woman had met man and two souls had come together to belie the oft-repeated cliché that there is no true love in this world. Amrita and Imroz were born to the land of doomed love a la Heer-Ranjha, Sohni-Mahiwal and Mirza-Sahiban but they defied the shackles of society and realised their love. I recall what Punjabi fiction writer Ajeet Cour said when she visited her older sister of letters perishing on the sick-bed: “There was Imroz pressing her legs to relieve her of pain and attending to every little need of hers. It is so rare! I have yet to see such devotion from a man for a woman. She must have done many good deeds in her past lives.”

No Imroz came to her not as a result of past deeds but the deeds of this very life of this gutsy Gujranwala girl who was Lahore’s celebrated poet when she was just sixteen and later she won fame home and abroad with her gifted pen. The two gave each other complete space and freedom in their home together. Amrita cooked the meals and Imroz made those endless cups of tea for the stream of writers visiting them. Theirs’ was an open house and I had the privilege of staying there ever so often and eating the saag and chapatti cooked with love by one of the greatest poets of our times and drinking tumbler after tumbler of tea that Imroz made with the same involvement as he made his sketches.

How does the male world react to this relationship all against the established macho order? Fiction writer and editor of Sankh literary weekly Sidhu Damdami says: “The relationship was path-breaking. They became a role model and many tried to experiment thus to be together but few reached the heights that these two amazing octogenarians did. It was love that held them together.” Well-known satirist Bhushan, who was close to the two, says sans satire for once: “It was an example of complete surrender by Imroz who was an admirer of her writings. What is remarkable is that he was by her side till the very end. It can only be described as spiritual.”

And how does 80-year-old Imroz, for he was six years younger to Amrita, feel now that Amrita passed away on the Diwali eve? Is he shattered and lonely that she is now gone? However, he surprises their admirers by saying, “I am not sorrowful at all and not lonely either. Only her ailing body is gone, she is till with me. Even death cannot do us part.”

SOUL MATES: Amrita Pritam and Imroz when they fell in love in 1958 snapped with an automatic camera while holidaying at Andretta in Himachal Pradesh and together in their Hauz Khas home at Delhi in 1998 (below)

I will meet you yet again by Amrita Pritam (1919-2005)

will meet you yet again

How and Where?

I know not

Perhaps I will become a

figment of your imagination

and maybe spreading myself

in a mysterious line

on your canvas

I will keep gazing at you

Perhaps I will become a ray

of sunshine to be

embraced by your colours

I will paint myself on your canvas

I know not how and where_

but I will meet you for sure

Maybe I will turn into a spring

and rub the foaming

drops of water on your body

and rest my coolness on

your burning chest

I know nothing else

but that this life

will walk along with me

When the body perishes

all perishes

but the threads of memory

are woven with enduring specs

I will pick these particles

weave the threads

and I will meet you yet again


This poem by the pioneering poet of Punjabi, Amrita Pritam, was written from the sick bed to her painter partner Imroz. Translated from Punjabi by Nirupama Dutt.

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5 comments:

Dikshu Osho Shiva said...

beautiful ... <3

Dikshu Osho Shiva said...

beautiful .... <3

Dikshu Osho Shiva said...

thatz really true death cannot keep them apart .... they were m still r soulmates n are residing in this existence

moongazer said...

thanks for posting this. it really needs a whole lot of faith to be with the one you love.

moongazer said...

hanks for posting this. it really needs a whole lot of faith to be with the one you love.