MASTER OF PUNJABI POETRY- DR SURJIT PATAR
Dr. Amarjit Tanda | 06-12-2008
At the Ferozepore road in Ludhiana, there is a Makka of Punjabi poetry on the back side of Aggar Nagar, also known as Maggar Nagar sometimes. You can meet a very light weight man, champion of Punjabi poetry welcoming you with a nikki jehi smile all the time whenever you visit him, even without any information in advance. Now he wears a small pagri too sometimes in the evening, not a patka. During my recent visit to Ludhiana in April,2008, I went to visit my longotia Yaar, another Panjabi Hindi poet Dr Sukhchain (Mistry), who lives on the back of this Punjabi poetry Makka. It looks like the door of this Punjabi poetry Makka opens on both sides of the world of poets, one on the rising sun and another on the lehande passÃ©.
I could not meet Dr Sukhchain last time as bhabi told me he is in Bhopal. However during my recent tour, I met him two three times, once in the PAU Ludhiana and secondly at his literary home, decorated with his paintings with poetic verse of many poets.. One evening, I myself & Dr Sukhchain were enjoying and sharing our college days at his home, but there was no other man to present us wiyh nikke 2 jokes, the environment was serious. So we thought of our Bheesam Pitamma of modern Punjabi Poetry to be with us. Dr Sukhchain said me ,letâ€™s go , and he was leading me to his newly extended house and we entered in without even knocking at. Sukhchain was saying to me aaja aaja ghabra na. I thought people might have changed after growing grey and touring abroad. However, this never happens with literary people. We found a slim, grey black bearded man Dr Surjit Patar who took us into ghutmi te piari jaffi varri 2 while on his mobile phone to Dr Tiwana , keeping his one hand on phone, and talking both ways,kade sade naal te kade kade Dr Tiwana naal. He was very busy during those days because of Sahit Academy elections, being contested like Assembly Elections, with the misunderstanding of a contestant, who had a big galat fehmi about himself.
We were talking about, Dr Patar, I met this markoo jeha Pehalwan of Panjabi Poetry in 1973-74 for the first time in his department of Languages and I was completing my BSc.at PAU Ludhiana, the days of naxalite movement.
Patar appeared on the Punjabi poetry scene in the 60s, always use to spoke to the audience in an intimate manner about his poetic journey and also the creative process of some of his famous poems. Patar started writing poems in his college days at Kapurthala,may be willing to be a musician. He says such facilities were not in a village. The college had a library and I read voraciously. Poets Bawa Balwant and Harbhajan Singh, influenced me in the early days, he was telling like a story of his past. Shiv Kumar Batalvi was also gaining popularity at that time, it was only later that we could assess the merit of his verses. Sohan Singh Misha with his modern tone appealed more to my youthful heart, he continued.
Last time he visited Sydney, he met me two times not like before because there were many fans who gherahoed him after the show. However we had a long jaffi and shared some light galan of PAU. He visited my home one day and we remained in the way for two and a half hours which was of 10 minutes, as we started enjoying and recoding some of our old jokes & yaddan with red wine in a clear zone of Sydney. My family members were worried about us, as I told them to come back in 10 minutes. Here we met after a gap of 11 years. He shared with me many jokes. He was telling in Punjab people stop on red light if police is there. He also told that these days people dare to ask the officer many questions, why my job has not been done and if the concerned man asks who are you the man says, I am public and you are our a public servant. So you are supposed to do my pending job first.
Patar said that his verses blossomed in the very creative environment of the 60s at Patiala recalling his poetic journey. I chose to study in Punjabi University because well known writers and intellectuals like DrDalip Kaur Tiwana, Dr Attar Singh and S Balwant Singh were associated with it. Outside the campus I came across the influence of Gurbhagat Singh, Harinder Mehboob, S.S. Noor and Baba Laali, he added.
Born in 1944, at Patran village, which became his Takhalash as Patar. Surjit Patar achieved an M.A.from Punjabi University, Patiala. Later on, he and Dr Kairon, both jointly (jokingly) did another Ph.D in Punjabi on Elements of Folklore in the Poetry of Guru Nanak Dev and again Patar joined the academic profession with Doctor da Khitaab. Actually, his name looks better as it was without a Dr before his name. He has retired as Professor of Punjabi from Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana not from poetry. However these days you can find him working like a politician campaigning for Dr Tiwana. He is one of the most prominent poets of Punjabi, who has kept alive the tradition of lyric along with his verses. He has attracted and charmed the poetry lovers by his ghazals in Taranum and steals the show many times.
Patar said he was once passing through the old courts of Ludhiana,talking of his famous poem, â€˜Kujh kiha taan hanera jarega kiveinâ€™, he saw the dried up trees in the compound. He felt that these were people who had turned into trees waiting for justice. All this and the justice the Naxalites had sought merged into the making of this poem. Another incident when Hindus were being pulled out of a bus and killed perturbed me much. And I thought with horror that if the much-loved Punjabi poet Shiv Kumar had been among them, this would have been his fate too, referring to another well-known poem written during terrorism-
â€˜Kal Waris Shah nu wandea si ajj Shiv Kumar di vaari hai
Oh zakham tuhanu bhul vi gaye naveian di hor tiyari haiâ€™
Hawa Vich Likhe Harf (Words written in the Air), Birkh Arz Kar (Thus speaks the Tree), Hanere Vich Sulghdi Varnmala (Words smouldering in the Dark) and Lafzanh Di Dargah (Shrine of Words) are his works of poetry. The three tragedies of Garcia Lorca, the play Nag Mandala of Girish Karnad, and poems of Bertolt Brecht and Pablo Neruda has been translated into Punjabi by him and worked on Giradoux, Euripides and Racine plays. He has penned down the tele-scripts starting from Punjabi poets Sheikh Farid of the 13th century to Amrita Pritam of the 20th under the name of Suraj Da Sirnama..
He was the President, Punjabi Sahit Academy, Ludhiana twice before Dr Tiwana, apni Guru Ton Pehlan ik Vidhyarathi 2 vaar Pardhan reha. He was awarded with Sahitya Academy Award(1993), for his book Hanere vich Sulghdi Varnmala, and Bhartiya Bhasha Parishad Purskar. He has influenced many young poets with his new words and his style of penning down, like netting a beautiful sweater with excellent design.