Padma Sachdev, the poet who took Dogri language to great heights
A sense of great loss was felt nationwide with the passing away of Padma Sachdev, the first modern poet of the Dogri language
The sparkling small-town Jammu girl won accolades for her poetry and prose as she navigated with typical rustic trademark, beauty, talent and an irresistible lust for life as she navigated the literary circles of Mumbai and Delhi.
She was to the Dogri language what Mahadevi Verma was to Hindi and Amrita Pritam to Punjabi. She started dabbling in poetry in the sweet dialect of the Jammu hills and went onto win the Sahitya Akademi in 1971 for her book of poetry ‘Meri Kavita, Mere Geet’. She went onto win many awards including the Padma Shri and the Saraswati Samman for her autobiography ‘Boond Bawari’ in 2015 and in 2019, she received the prestigious Sahitya Akademi Fellowship for lifetime achievement. Her autobiography was translated into English by Uma Vasudev as ‘A Drop in the Ocean’.
Padma, along with other writers and activists, pressed hard for the recognition of the Dogri language. “When Atal Bihari Vajpayee became PM, I would nag him about it as I knew him as a fellow poet. So he would avoid me knowing what I was going to ask for!” she would recount. When official recognition came to Dogri in December 2003, Padma says it was the happiest day for her as the language had its own identity and was not just taken for a dialect.”
Behind her tinkling laughter was a life of struggle and resilience as she fought many setbacks and persistent health problems. She found a caring partner in classical singer Surinder Singh and she is survived by him and their daughter Meeta Sachdev. Adieu to Padma who will live forever in her poems.