Category Archives: Punjabi poems

Drawings of the cave- Amrita Pritam

I have been commanded to start the ‘great translation project’ which I have been thinking about from a very a long time on the day of incarnation, here is the translation of Amrita Pritam‘s poem- “Drawings of the cave”, and with that it begins!

On that day, Sun-WP_20160417_12_02_20_Pro (2)
when came on the door of a cave
dressed in the colors of royalty
One is not sure- from the cave
what desires erupted

Sun bowed
And entered the cave from its narrow entrance
and inside- on the walls of the cave
looked at the drawings of human existence

On a rock he sat
Drawings became alive, they laughed
and said
the one who moves from existence, via the path of existence
He cannot be painted

The rays blinked to look at the walls of the cave
Stationary being transcended
When the frozen body of Sun
shaken by time
from being heavenly, he became earthy
He removed his royal clothes
and while sitting on the rock
he wore the walls of the cave

I am not sure about the age of this story
but one thing I know- there was a time
while looking at the drawings on the walls of a cave
Sun became dervish…

Amrita Pritam
– 30 August, 1994

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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.