Amrita Pritam - The Queen Of Punjabi Literature

Qasim Khan Lahore

Amrita Pritam born as Amrita Kaur in a traditional Sikh family of undivided Punjab in 1919, in Gujranwala and brought up in Lahore,

She was a Punjabi writer and poet, considered the first prominent woman Punjabi poet, novelist, and essayist, and the leading 20th-century poet of the Punjabi language, who is equally loved on both the sides of the India-Pakistan border.

Amrita was the product of the other side of Punjab and she religiously remained so till her end. It was from there that she had been drawing her strength and symbols with all the sublimity embodied in the works of great Sufi poets and saints.

With a career spanning over six decades, she produced over 100 books, of poetry, fiction, biographies, essays, a collection of Punjabi folk songs and an autobiography that were translated into several Indian and foreign languages.

She is most remembered for her poignant poem, Aj Aakhaan Waris Shah Nu (Today I invoke Waris Shah – "Ode to Waris Shah"), an elegy to the 18th-century Punjabi poet, an expression of her anguish over massacres during the partition of India.

As a novelist her most noted work was Pinjar (The Skeleton) (1950), in which she created her memorable character, Puro, an epitome of violence against women, loss of humanity and ultimate surrender to existential fate; the novel was made into an award-winning film, Pinjar in 2003.

When the former British India was partitioned into the independent states of India and Pakistan in 1947, she migrated from Lahore, to India, though she remained equally popular in Pakistan throughout her life, as compared to her contemporaries like Mohan Singh and Shiv Kumar Batalvi.

In 1935, Amrita married Pritam Singh, son of a leading hosiery merchant of Lahore's Anarkali bazaar.

In 1960, Amrita Pritam left her husband. She is had an unrequited affection for poet Sahir Ludhianvi then she found solace in the companionship of the renowned artist and writer Imroz and lived with him till her death.

She died in her sleep on 31 October 2005 at the age of 86 in New Delhi, after a prolonged illness.

[Photo] Amrita Pritam at All India Radio Lahore (Pre-Partition)