Monthly Archives: March 2016

Rare are Those who Meet a Complete Woman…

The interview of Imroz- a painter and the lover of Amrita Pritam

Few days ago a friend of mine, shared the interview of Imroz on facebook. It was done by Imran Khan and published on the website called ‘Punjab in Holland’. It was also published on a blog before- Ghulam Kalam. Imroz is a painter and a poet and lover of Amrita Pritam. The interview is in Punjabi. It is very rare to find his thoughts in public domain. There is deep down desire to translate Amrita Pritam’s writings in English, thought let me just start by translating the interview of the lover of Amrita Pritam and slowly- slowly move towards her novels. I have chosen not to translate the whole introduction written by the interviewer as there is some confusion around articulation of it. Though translating some observations he made. If you read through the interview, you will observe that Imroz is talking about Amrita Pritam in present tense. For the rest Amrita is not there in this world anymore, but she is alive. If you want to meet Amrita, you have to meet Imroz. Amrita is alive in him. He says Amrita is alive, we can’t deny that. For the same reason he has used the present tense to acknowledge her presence. He also says that a complete woman comes to the life of the one whom she loves, and you cannot prohibit love.

You are a painter; why is it that you never exhibited your paintings or sold it?

I am an artist, I know that. Why should I go on telling people about my existence as a painter? The one who likes my paintings will come and take them. Neither I nor Amrita likes the idea that people should know us. When you exhibit your work, many people visit those who don’t even know you. What purpose does that serve? It is all waste of time. I should know that I am an artist, for the others their awareness of it does not matter. I and Amrita live like this. If you read, you will find that a lot of writers have a 4-5 page long introduction to their presented work, which is written by someone else. It straightaway looks like obliging the writer. There are more than 75 books written by Amrita which have been published. I have never ever seen such a thing. We lived our life for ourselves. I know Amrita and Amrita knows me. It’s more than enough to know just one person. I am Amrita’s social life and Amrita is mine. And with that we don’t have a need of anyone else.

What do you think about the parents who prohibit love?

No one can ban love. You declare ‘love is God’ and with that you talk about prohibiting love. If two individuals love each other, no decision of the world can be imposed on them. The parents who think that they can prohibit their children from love and loving; they are living in a dilemma, the way you cannot stop the flower from blooming, the same way you cannot forbid the lovers from loving. The parents do this because they themselves got married the same way. Apart from that they feel answerable to the society. The humans are not living for themselves; they are living for the society. It is a personal matter of young individuals to decide with whom they want to live.

What kind of life do you live?

We believe in simple life. I and Amrita don’t invite people for dinner. It is on our discretion whether we want to invite some people for dinner and leave the others. One dish is enough as food for both of us. If we invite someone, we need to cook another dish for the invited person. Why do we need to do that? Why do people hire servants, because they help them feel relaxed. I am painting in my room and Amrita is writing in her room, if we have to hire a help we constantly need to keep an eye on him to see what is he doing or not doing. For this reason we have not hired anyone. If a woman is staying at home, she should cook. Amrita cooks. We both do the kitchen/household work together.

Why do you and Amrita avoid going to public reading of poems?

You need to have a different ‘mood’ to participate in public reading of poems. We don’t fit into it. I have never been to a poetry recitation. Probably Amrita has been to one. The poets are getting sloshed behind the curtains and after getting drunk they recite poems. The amateur poets are given the chance first. The well-known poets arrive later on the stage, so that the audience stays. Why do you have to do this, why is it not possible to listen to the poems of better poets for a longer period of time.

Do you believe in God?

Why do people go to temple, mosque, gurudwara? Because they want to beg something from God. Is God someone’s servant? How many patrons will he keep working for? You visit the religious places to beg something from God, we desire nothing. If this is done, we will organize a Havana- why do you need to say that? You are bribing the God. Leave the God aside. Someone says O lord get me married, other says help me pass the examination. The thief says o lord keep my deeds under cover. He doesn’t say God help me get rid of this desire of robbing people. If you believe in God, you leave everything on him. If you believe that he doesn’t exist, you tend to think beyond that. People say that everything happens with the will of God. If someone is murdered, that is also the result of will of God. Why do you need to arrest the murderer, why don’t you arrest God? When it comes to murder you change your stand. You just use God for your own benefit.

You lived together for 40 years, why is it that you never confessed your love for each other?

There was no need of confession. If you state everything without actually saying it, there is no need of it. In those 40 years we never even once said ‘I love you’. If there is love, there is no need to affirm it. If I find someone beautiful, the other person will know it on his/her own. If we tell someone that I love you, we do it because we want the other person to love us. Love needs no confession- affirmation. Confession of love is a way to forcefully ask for love.

Why is it that Amrita’s room is in the beginning of the house and yours is at the end?

I am a painter, she is a writer. I don’t know when she starts writing and I start painting. In a big house why do husband and wife sleep together on one bed? There are different reasons for them; those reasons are not applicable to us. If we sleep together, if I move a little, it may disturb her, and if she moves, I am disturbed. We don’t want to cause inconvenience to each other. Today’s marriages are a façade to avail woman’s body. Woman is believed to be a servant of man; she comes cheaper than an actual servant. Most men end up in consummating woman’s body, very rare people feel loved or love.

How did it feel when you celebrated your birthday with Amrita for the first time?

Felt happy. It was just by-chance. We were staying on the two sides of same road. I used to keep visiting her. We were sitting together. I told her that I was born today. She came outside and sat. In our village no one celebrates their birthday. People are just born. This is a very white man habit. Someone brought cake. She cut the cake. She gave me some, and took some for herself. Neither did she say Happy Birthday to me nor did I say thank you. We just kept looking at each other and smiling.

What do you do these days?

I stay at home. Don’t feel the need of going out. I write poems, paint. I am happy with my life. Sometimes go out to buy vegetables.

What will you say about the people of current times?

No one is alive today. They all are dead. The one who never says sorry is dead. The man who is knows and acknowledges that he committed mistakes. Thousands were killed in Gujarat riots, not a single person accepted his/her mistake. Why? Because they all are dead. Not a single faith in this world is manufacturing human beings. All are gathering crowd for their own purpose. No one can say that they are better than the others because they all are evil.


O Lord, This moralist Hypocrisy of Academia

Pardon my ignorance but I want to ask: Who is this sociology professor Vivek Chibber, whose interview is published in The Hindu today? It seems that he knows more about Dalit and other social movements than the movements know about themselves. His expert opinion is that the movements and mobilization around identity are not aligning with economic interests and somewhere are not at all inclusive as they are yet to expand their horizons to class based mobilization. Sorry to say but it is easy to state this when you are an academician and based in distant lands.

थोड़े अपने विश्वविद्यालय के माहौल से बाहर आकर देखिये- जहान और भी है। हमारे कचरा वेचकों से मिलिए वह न केवल अपनी आइडेंटिटी (शनाख्त/पहचान) को लेकर लड़ रहे हैं बल्कि आर्थिक व समाजिक बदलाव के लिए तत्पर अभ्यास कर रहे हैं।  वामपंथी अच्छे हैं, आपकी उनपर टिपण्णी सही है पर हमें हर जगह वामपंथियों की सहायता की आवश्यकता नहीं है।

I want to know why this had to be stated:

“There is a parallel with the U.S. Black Lives Matter, if you think of it as a movement, has two layers to it. One is a layer of real organisers in urban areas, who were incredibly and very concertedly active around issues of economic justice. Because for them the most pressing issues are not so much discrimination in the labour market, but not having a job at all; not so much the exclusion in schools, but not having [access to] schools at all. These activists are very aware that their concerns as black people involve fundamental issues of economic justice, not just narrowly racial justice.

Furthermore, these activists are also aware that what has become Black Lives Matter is as much a name brand and a commodified emblem as it is a movement. And in the past six months or so, we have seen Black Lives Matter has not been as visible as it was a year ago, on the streets. This is partly because many of the most prominent icons of Black Lives Matter are already moving into the Democratic Party, or into Teach for America, things like that.

So it is an avenue that a certain section of the black middle class is using for its upward advancement. We have seen that happen in India too — with Dalit intellectuals and Dalit politicians.”

I am yet to understand why these academicians particularly the liberal ones who make the entire population of poor and marginalized their subjects to do PhD or Post Doc. become so moralist when the individuals from marginalized communities move upward. They themselves use their ‘subjects’, who remain poor and marginalized through out their study, to earn recognition in the form Doctorate or a high paying job. If the social actors or organizers, most of whom were (are) poor, exploited and othered move up the ladder it looks like individual advancement at the cost of othering the rest. Such a stupid yardstick of morality!

Somewhere I feel such academicians desire everyone to stay poor so that the academia and their privileged allies remain the best representative of othered voices. Upward movement of Dalits, and Blacks in case of United States at some level is unacceptable as their route went through social mobilization around identity.

They forget that Ambedkar was one man alone, who moved upward and opened the doors of the given space for everyone and not just Dalits. And there are many like him. Even after staying in power Mayawati has not forgotten her roots, you may call her corrupt, so are your upper caste politicians who talk about development and equality. A lot of people who may not be Dalit or lower caste say Mayawati- Behenji was probably the best of all chief ministers in the state of Uttar Pradesh. She brought law and order to the state after contesting elections around the issues of identity politics.

I am not romanticizing identity based movements. It is worth  mentioning that those who have been grilled by marginalization have more sense of empathy and collective conscience for justice than those who are privileged enough by the virtue of their caste and class and their study of marginalized folks. Identity based movements have economic dimensions which many of our colleagues in universities fail to read. They may not have engaged with the social movements and mobilizations around marginalized identity. I am assuming a lot and I take the liberty of doing that on the basis of such interviews, academic papers and experiences with the academia.

Instead of sermonizing us about the virtues of class based and economic motive struggles, Chibber Sahib should spend some time in studying empathy and collective desire for justice in social movements and mobilizations around identity. He should also spend time with those who have moved upwards.