As for this valentine, we are giving you a sneak peek into a love story that is everlasting. The name says it all. She is most remembered for her agitating poem “AJJ aakhan waris shah nu”. Love indeed was a brand name for Amrita. With a career spanning over 100 books of poetry, fiction, biographies, collection of folk songs and an autobiography, she became the first woman to win the Sahitya Akademi Award for her poem Sunehade and with time goes on her lap filled with numerous awards, titles. Her most noted work was Pinjar in which she created a memorable character of Puro. This Gujranwala beauty lost her mother at a young age and brought up by a spiritualistic and scholarly father who encouraged her to read and write.
We have read enough about the one-sided love of Amrita for Sahir Ludhianvi but there was another man who loved her to the intensity, untouched by jealousy or thoughts of gain or advantage, love wherein lovers learn to be optimistic and insane at the same time, IMROZ. She first met him in 1957, when she was looking for a designer for the book cover; even she didn’t know that this meeting will later on give us a story so beautiful that it take us to journey of their undiluted love which make us and break us in every turn it takes. Amrita was courageous and talked openly about her feelings in her autobiography Raseedi ticket.
We have read the obsession of her with Sahir even when there was a companionship growing between her and Imroz, she was drawing Sahir’s name on his back. Someone asked Imroz if he feel bad about it, he simply and generously respond, ‘Sahir was her and my back too, why would I have any objection?’ how he bore the weight of these words it’s difficult to even imagine, this shows the purity and devotion of him towards Amrita.
Amrita Pritam and Imroz exchanged many letters which later on published (put together by Uma Trilok in Amrita and Imroz: In the Times of Love and Longing), in one of it she writes to the love of her life –Imroz
….At heart, human beings share the same pain, the same anguish, wherever they might live on Earth. I think all of us feel the same wrench, the same pull at the heartstrings. In the cold evening of life, I now wait just for the warm sunshine that your letters bring…just yours…”
Imroz wrote to her regularly, in the determination to win her heart, finally they started living together, without marrying, not to be separated for next 4 decades. He was acquainted with the truth that she once loved Sahir, she said it was not a big deal that he knows about it but what is, is the fact that, ‘he made my failure his own.’ At once she jokingly said, “Imu! If Sahir and I got together, we have never met” He accepted her to the level where he said “I’ve met you for sure, even I have to find you while you were reciting namaz in his house.” She believes that “Imroz’s love was a gift” to her. while comparing him to God she writes “father, brother, friend or husband, these words don’t have any relation, but when I saw you –these words found their soul.”
Amrita Pritam who was not too keen of cooking food of her own as she depicts in her autobiography that if her servant felt ill it was a nightmare for her but after meeting Imroz she adapted a new lifestyle, maids then seems to be a distraction for her in her work. At that times when Imroz’s business fails he gifted a sari to Amrita of worth 20,000. His face contains not even a single frown as he loses his money, it was the endurance of his love, the selfless affection he feels for Amrita ji, he just wanted to see her smile. Imroz defines his love as he said “We made no promises no commitments. But love flourished without any formal expressions.”
In an interview taken by Nawaid Anjum, he told that during her last days,”She used to ask me to get cyanide capsules every day.” Imroz says, “How could I? Instead got her pain killers.” so when she took her last breath he didn’t cry, he was relieved that death finally put a end to her sufferings
If Amrita wrote a poem “Mein tenu phir milangi” before her death for him ,which is now considered one of the most intense love poems for a tie that even death could not do apart then imroz, who later on turned poet completed it with another love poem on her: “Usne jism chhoda hai, saath nahi.”
Their lovestory cast a spell in my mind. I’ve always read about sassi-punnu, heer-ranjha, romeo-juliet but the love these two shares is beyond any social boundaries. By the whole process of reading their autobiographies, I smiled absent mindly, sometimes my eyes prick with tears, a love deeper than an ocean, a longing so divine, a silence so expressive that we mesmerized by their souls, I never want to come out of this bubble created by the ink-pots of Amrita Pritam and Imroz…
Text -Antpreet kaur