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Monday, Oct 14, 2019

Spice of Life | Amrita Pritam in the role of an ordinary woman

On her death anniversary today, I am reminded of instances of her as an anxious mother, a protective grandma and a concerned live-in partner

punjab Updated: Oct 31, 2017 17:19 IST
Manoj Kumar
Manoj Kumar
Hindustan Times
Pioneering Punjabi poet Amrita Pritam
Pioneering Punjabi poet Amrita Pritam(HT File Photo)

When she wielded the pen, she wrote like an empress of the literary world. Words were at her beck and call as she delved into poetry and prose. She used tender feelings and profound thoughts as she broached romance, love, philosophy and even spiritualism in her works. That was Amrita Pritam who strode like a colossus, as they say, in the world of Punjabi literature.

But when she donned the role of an ordinary woman at home, she had her own share of cares, worries and concern for her kith and kin, showing all the vulnerability of a woman burdened with family responsibilities.

As her death anniversary falls on Tuesday, I am reminded of instances of her as an anxious mother, a protective grandma and a concerned live-in partner.

One day, as I entered her bedroom, where she spent most of her time in the last phase of her life, her grand-daughter Shilpi was coming out. After Shilpi’s exit, she told me that her darling grand-daughter had turned 18 that day. “Now she says she has come of age and can elope with someone,” Amrita told me with a smile.

She added, “You see, she is very pretty. I am worried about her. I hope she gets some good match, someone very understanding.”

On another occasion, when I had gone to my hometown Sangrur on Diwali on a week’s leave from my news agency (UNI) office in Delhi, I called her up. There was anxiety in her voice so when I asked the reason, she said, “Shilpi is bent upon going to Bombay to pursue a course in fashion and design. She is so young. Who will look after her there? I am trying to convince her to do the course in Delhi itself. But she is not listening. What can I do now?” she said.

When I returned to Delhi and visited Amrita, she said with a sense of relief and pride, “Shilpi has agreed to pursue the course in Delhi.”

After specialising in jewellery design, Shilpi started her business in Mumbai and found a good match in her own field, though Amrita had passed away by then.

Another such instance was when Amrita’s son Shalley Kwatra had to get his first book released. She asked me to attend the event and write about it. Titled ‘Shekhu Ram Ki Ram Kahani’, the book that was in the genre of humour was released at the Constitution Club near my office. I filed a report titled, ‘Amrita’s son takes to writing’. She asked me which newspaper had published it. On the next day, I gave her a copy of a paper that carried it. “No one else published it?” she asked with concern.

When she was on her death bed, she would often tell me, “Manoj, hun main nahin rehna. Mere pichhon tusin Imroz da khyaal rakhyo (I won’t survive now. Take care of Imroz after me).” She was anxious about the future of her life partner after her.

I would listen to her, knowing well that Imroz, who took great care of Amrita throughout their long relationship, was capable of not only looking after himself but also of others around him. Now, when he has crossed 90, Amrita’s daughter-in-law, Alka, is taking care of him quite well.

(The writer is an assistant news editor with Hindustan Times, Chandigarh. He can be contacted at

First Published: Oct 31, 2017 17:19 IST

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