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Remembering Amrita Pritam, lines from her best poems on her 99th birth anniversary

Amrita Pritam is most remembered for her poem, Aj Aakhaan Waris Shah Nu (Today I invoke Waris Shah), an elegy to the 18th century Punjabi poet, which also expresses her anguish over massacres during the partition of India.

books Updated: Aug 31, 2018 08:53 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Amrita Pritam,Amrita Pritam Birth Anniversary,Amrita Pritam Birthday
Poet Amrita Pritam was born on August 31, 1919.(Wikimedia Commons)

Amrita Pritam (born as Amrita Kaur) was a Punjabi writer and poet, who was considered a prominent female voice in the Punjabi literary world. She is remembered for her poem, Aj Aakhaan Waris Shah Nu (Today I invoke Waris Shah), an elegy to the 18th century Punjabi poet, which also expresses her anguish over massacres during the partition of India.

One of her most famous works — Pinjar (The Skeleton) also spoke about the Partition in-depth through the protagonist Puro, who stood as an epitome of violence against women. Amrita has written over 100 books, poetry, fiction, biographies and essays, which have been translated in several Indian and foreign languages.

Below are some of the best lines from her poems (translated in English).

From ‘Me’

... Gunshot—

if it strikes me in Hanoi

it strikes again in Prague.

A little smoke floats up,

and my ‘me’ dies like an eighth-month child.

Will my ‘me’ one day be my contemporary?

From ‘Today I invoke Waris Shah’

Once one daughter of Punjab wept, and you wrote your long saga; Today thousands weep, calling to you Waris Shah

Arise, o friend of the afflicted; arise and see the state of Punjab, Corpses strewn on fields, and the Chenaab flowing with much blood.

From ‘Empty space’

There were two kingdoms only:

the first of them threw out both him and me.

The second we abandoned.

Under a bare sky

I for a long time soaked in the rain of my body,

he for a long time rotted in the rain of his.

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First Published: Aug 31, 2018 08:53 IST