31 st August,2019, is the birth centenary of avant-garde writer and poet, Amrita Pritam. Not only were her life and works a rebellion in time and place but some of them flowed with love flavoured by her unusual personality.
One such poem by Amrita Pritam, ‘I will meet you yet again’, has been translated by Dr Uma Trilok, an authority on the avant-garde centenarian and herself a powerful writer and poet. The poem has been recited by no less a person than the legendary Gulzar in original Punjabi . Born Sampooran Singh Kalra, Gulzar is one of the foremost personalities to dominate Bollywood , an Academy Award winning Indian film director, lyricist and poet. In 2007, the maestro brought out an album, Amrita Pritam, recited by Gulzar.
Recitation of ‘Main Tenu Fir Milaan Gi’ by Gulzar in Punjabi
I will meet you, yet again
(by Amrita Pritam, translated by Dr Uma Trilok)
I will meet you
I do not know
Uma Trilok in conversation with Mitali Chakravarty
Dr Uma Trilok is a small vivacious woman, well-dressed and polite… almost more like a retired college professor. She could be a heroine of one of the novels she writes. But as one reads her poetry in both Hindi, Hindustani, Punjabi and English, one is left wondering what goes on behind that serene, calm exterior.
With her writing, Uma draws word pictures which vividly converse with herself as well as the world outside. Through them she asks questions which enquire and eventually appear on her canvas as expressions of love, anguish, loss, hope, smiles and unions. Acclaimed and awarded, she has the rare art of balancing joy with pain which subtly leaves the reader with a profound sense of hope, courage and enterprise. “Her moving and touchy narrative brings out the deeply spiritual aspect of her writing,” writes India Today.
Besides being an acclaimed bilingual poet, her short stories and novels have been staged as plays. “She presents her lines with a unique facility of phrase and depth of feeling. In the play of her words, myriad moods of anguish and ecstasy come to the fore vividly,” writes the Journal of Poetry Society of India.
Uma Trilok has written award winning books including her much acclaimed debut novel, Amrita Imroz: A Love Story. In all, she has penned 16 books. Here, in this exclusive, she talks of how she started writing and what she sees as her future.
Mitali: When did you start writing? Can you tell us what put you on the path of writing? What was your inspiration? Do you have any book, music or art that inspires you?
Uma: At the age of 32, I was the heading a college for women in Mahashri Dayanand University. While sitting in a quiet environment, when students were taking their exams, a poem arrived, and I put it on a paper…That was the beginning.
Prior to that, I taught at Delhi University. Trained in Indian classical Music and Kathak dance, I sang at the All India Radio and gave dance performances at places like Triveni Kala Sangam, New Delhi. I had to conceal this part of myself from the conservative management of the women’s college. My journey as a poet started as a result of this trammel, way back in the 1970s. My creativity needed to flow somehow in some direction. I picked up the pen, a safe medium.