Remembering the great Punjabi poet Amrita Pritam on her 98th birth anniversary.

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Sahir Ludhianvi’s romance with Amrita Pritam was possibly the most intense, the flame burning brightly at both ends. In her autobiography (Raseedi Ticket), Amrita was to write:

“Aur mujhe lagta hai
ki shamshan ki aag, aag ka apmaan hai
Kisi Sohni, Sassi ya Heer mein
Jo aag jalti thi
Mujhe us aag ki pehchaan hai”

Sahir never moved far from his preoccupation with romanticism. In his own words:

“Mere sarkash taraane sun ke duniyaa ye samajhti hai
ke shaayad mere dil ko ishq ke naghmon se nafrat hai

Magar ae kaash dekhein vo meri pursoz raaton ko
Main jab taaron pe nazren gaadkar aansu bahaata hoon”

Amrita and he met and spent hours together without talking; when Sahir left, she would hurriedly smoke the cigarette butts he left behind, hoping the smoke would mingle with the air and meet up with him in the heavens. Sahir once invited her and her much younger partner Imroz to meet him in a hotel room. They ordered whiskey, sat and talked for a long time. At midnight, Amrita received a call from Sahir. “There are still three glasses lying on the table, and by turn, I am sipping from each of them, and writing Mere Saathi Khaali Jaam.”

However, his relationship with her was never destined to be.

Courtesy- Anuradha Warrier

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