Imroz, the abiding love in Amrita Pritam’s life
Amrita wrote a poem ‘Shaam ka Phool’ (The evening flower) after her first meeting with Imroz. The poet felt that Imroz, who was 10 years younger, met her a bit too late in life.
Trapped in a loveless marriage at a young age, Amrita Pritam dared to love – lyricist Sahir Ludhianvi at first, and artist Imroz later. While her first love remained unfulfilled, she spent the rest of her life living-in with a rather loving and caring Imroz.
Amrita wrote a poem ‘Shaam ka Phool’ (The evening flower) after her first meeting with Imroz. The poet felt that Imroz, who was 10 years younger, 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,” says Imroz, who is now 93. He would drop her at the AIR building, pick her up after the programme and then drop her home.
“I also visited Amrita’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 who prepared food at their home,” he says.
Imroz says 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 says, “We made no promises, no commitments. There were no questions, no answers. But love flourished without any formal expressions.”
7 rounds around her
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 due course, they built their Hauz Khas house together and entered into what is now called a live-in relationship.
Imroz narrates an interesting episode of their life. Amrita and he were travelling together from Delhi to Mumbai in a car and cops stopped them on the way to check if there were some intoxicants 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!”
Appreciating Amrita’s poetry and beauty, he says, “Beautiful words take form of a beautiful body once in a while and Amrita was an example of such a blend.”
Ask him to define love and he simply says, “Love for me is all spontaneity. And there is no difficulty when there is spontaneity.”
As death stared at Amrita, she wrote her touching swan song, Main tainu pher milaangi (I will meet you again)’, addressed to Imroz, taking their love onto a cosmic plane for an eternal reunion.
Ironically, poetry started flowing through Imroz only after Amrita’s death in 2005.
He wrote beautiful poems about her, which he could no longer read out to her. During a visit to their home in those days, I asked him, “Doesn’t it hurt you? Don’t you feel she should have been around to appreciate your poetry?”
He said, “I think it reaches her wherever she is now.” Perhaps they are meeting at the same cosmic plane she referred to in her last poem. No wonder, he still uses present tense while talking of Amrita.