There is a lot being written and spoken about ‘feminism’ and the plight of women in the country today. But there was one voice, strong, clear and creative in its protest and narration, which stood out in an era when the plight of women was worse than it is today; the era before and during independence. It was that of renowned poet and storyteller Amrita Pritam whose works even today stand as an inspiration to many. Here are a few of them:
1. Dhoop ka tukda (A Fragment of Sunlight)
This poem talks about the feeling of loneliness in a crowd and the longing for light in an all-encompassing darkness.
2. Ajj Akhaan Waris Shah Nu (Today I invoke Waris Shah)
One of the most celebrated and renowned of all her poems, this one laments the tale of a mother travelling in the dark of the night from Dehradun to Delhi in search of work. Amrita Pritam, only 288 years old at the time, was able to collect her bearings and pen some lines on the tragedy that she had witnessed.
3. Ek Mulaqat (A meeting)
This moving poem talks about the plight of lovers who are unable to meet.
4. Khaali Jagah (Empty Space)
Amrita Pritam narrates another tragic love story through her words in this beautiful poem.
5. A letter
7. Cigret (Cigarette)
In a time when smoking, even by men was frowned upon, Amrita ji penned down a few lines on this vice. Talk about liberation and feminism!
8. Ambar ki ek paak suraahi
9. Kunwaari (The Virgin)
This strong poem talks about a woman’s experience of losing her virginity on her first night after her marriage.
10. Main Tenu Phir Milangi (I will meet you yet again)
This emotional poem talks about the last moments before when a beloved promises to be united with her lover soon again.
Novels and short stories
1. Pinjar (The Skeleton)
One of the most popular stories penned by Amrita ji, this was also adapted into a Bollywood movie by the same name. It tells the story of a young woman during the time of India-Pakistan partition and leaves one emotional and thought provoked.
2. Kammi aur Nanda
The story revolves around Kammi, a woman who has seen struggles right from childhood over time develops a confidence and strength that she doesn’t need the support of a man to find any fulfillment in life.
3. Dilli ki Galiyan
Dilli Ki Galiyan talks about how defenseless a woman can be and feel in the Capital City of Delhi, both emotionally as well as physically. It also highlights on how strong a woman needs to be in order to deal with the responses people have when she does not behave in a way she is expected to. It’s amazing how even after so many years of independence; the capital city tends makes the women feel the same way.
4. Kelli, Kamini aur Anita
A story revolving around three women (who happen to be protagonists from three of her stories) and their struggles.
5. Ek ladki Ek jam
6. Junglee Booti
Junglee Booti is a coming to realization story of a girl called Angoori who in the beginning believes that “paap lagata hai prem karne se” but eventually comes to fall in love with a security guard.
7. Shah Ki Kanjari
Shah Ki Kanjari is a story about meeting of two women whose lover is the same man, where one is the wife and the other, a mistress.
Others (Journals, biographies, autobiographies)
1. Khaton Ka Safarnama (In the times of Love and Longing)
This is a book containing letters exchanged between Amrita Pritam and Imroz. In each of these letters, we get a glimpse of the creative mind of Amrita ji.
2. Rasidi Ticket (Revenue Stamp)
Rasidi ticket is the autobiographical book of Amrita which throws light on her life and struggles related to her works as well as her personal life.
3. Aksharon Ke Saaye (Shadows of Words)
This is yet another autobiographical work of Amrita ji which bids an ode to relationships of all kinds – between man and woman, birth and rebirth, earth and sky, present and past, poetry and love.
She was the editor of this a monthly literary magazine in Punjabi for several years.
Other female-oriented writings of Amrita Pritam include:
- Na Radha Na Rukmani
- Ik si Anita
- Khamoshi se pehle
- Kala Gulab (another autobiography)
- Kacche Resham ki Ladki
- Andhera Kona
- Shishe ki Aag
- A letter
- Empty Space
- Ishq Allah! Haq Allah
- Do Khidkiyaan
So get ready for your dose of ‘women empowerment’ with these works.