It was a veritable treat of poetry and poetic prose when the love story of celebrated poet Amrita Pritam and artist Imroz was narrated through the letters written by them to each other and their poems in the presence of none other than Imroz.
The reminiscences of 90-year-old Imroz and his matchless thoughts on love, life and his beloved Amrita, who died way back in 2005, lent an air of timeless romance to the two-day Sangrur Heritage and Literary Festival that concluded on Sunday.
It began with a poem by Amrita ‘Shaam ka Phool’ (The evening flower), written after her first meeting with Imroz. It was read out by Chandigarh-based socialite Bittu ‘Safeena’ Sandhu, who moderated the session. The poet felt that Imroz, who was 10 years younger to her, met her a bit too late in life. She was married to a cloth merchant of Lahore and the family had shifted to Delhi after Partition. Amrita presented a Punjabi programme at All India Radio (AIR) in the evening and Imroz used to look at her from his terrace. She had to commute in a bus which he didn’t like.
“I had a bicycle then and started saving money, and bought a scooter soon. I met her and said now on we will go on a scooter to the AIR building. She looked at me and asked, ‘Why have you met me so late?’ I said may be, I came of age late and the money too came late,” he said, evoking laughter and applause.
He would drop her at the AIR building, pick her up after the programme and then drop her home.
“I also visited Amrit a’s residence often and met her husband one evening. He said I am grateful to you because my wife has started cooking herself after you came here. Earlier, it was the maid that always prepared food at their home.”
Sandhu read out their love letters from a book and selected poems too and Imroz painted the saga of their love through memories.
Imroz said he later started dropping Amrita’s son and daughter to Modern School. “One day my scooter was challaned (for triple riding) and we bought a car together.”
He said, “We made no promises, no commitments. There were no questions, no answers. But love flourished without any formal expressions.”
Conscious of their age difference, Amrita once told him that he should first go and “see the world out there” and then come back to her if he feels like. “I took seven rounds around her and said I have seen and traversed the entire world and here I am all for you.”
In a letter, he told her, “Don’t measure age by years. Measure it with our longings.”
Appreciating Amrita’s poetry and beauty, he said, “Beautiful words take form of a beautiful body once in a while and Amrita was an example of such a blend.”
In due course of time, they built their Hauz Khas house together and entered into what is now called a live-in relationship.
Egged on by Sandhu, he narrated another interesting episode of their life. Imroz and Amrita were travelling together from Delhi to Mumbai in a car and cops stopped them on the way to check if there were some intoxicating substances in the vehicle. After a thorough search, when the cops let them go, he said, “Amrita, the poor cops failed to detect such an intoxicating substance (nasha) like you in the car!”
Asked how will he describe the experience of love that is usually accompanied by great pain and difficulty, he said, “Love for me is all spontaneity. And there is no difficulty when there is spontaneity.”
The festival was organised by the Sangrur Heritage Preservation Society, headed by Karanvir Singh Sibia at the GGS Public School