It’s the oft repeated, unheard story of a poet’s legacy, in the city he lived, amongst people who still look for him and those who don’t remember. Sourabh Gupta writes about Nand Lal Noorpuri, and his poetic spirit source-The Tribune
On the night of May 13, 1966, in Model House Colony, Jalandhar, Gurbachan Dua, a young student, heard a loud splash from the well outside her house. She ventured out to have a look. Pair of slippers was lying beside the well. Horrified, she had a peek inside and shuddered.
The poet had committed suicide. This is account of old-timers of the locality. Punjabi poet Nand Lal Noorpuri, a free spirit, brought down by the times was no more.
His friend, Charanjit Punj, who had edited a book of his, had said in 1971 that Noorpuri was free spirit; fame was not his aspiration.
But yes, they said: “Noorpuri boleya, Punjab boleya”.
Another scholar Mohan Singh had claimed that the poet has refused to live with illness and penury.
Why Nand Lal Noorpuri decided to end his life, only the poet knew. The coming end was alluded to and reflected in many of his compositions just before his final walk.
“That night, grandfather woke my father, who was in his teens then, and asked him to recite a couplet from his ‘Bhola Panchi’. Then he went out, never to return again,” Inderjit Noorpuri, the grandson, recounts.
“Ethon ud ja bholeya panchi,
Ve, tu apni jaan bacha.
Ethe, ghar-ghar phahian gaddian,
The poet’s younger son Satkartar Singh Noorpuri, grandson Inderjit Noorpuri and elder daughter-in-law. — Photo by S.S. Chopra
Ve tu chhurian heth na aa.
Ethe, dakke paen dopahr nu,
Tere aalhana denge, dah.
Ethe, jeharan bahr wich daniyan,
Teri ditti chog khanda.
Ethe chure walian rondian,
Gal vich zulfan paa.”
No one can fathom a poet’s fragile mind. For him death had become an inseparable part of living. Noorpuri heard the ‘bhola panchhi’ lines that he had written in context of another death, at another place, in another job.
The beginningNand Lal was born at the beginning of the last century, in 1906 in Nurpur, district Lyallpur, now in Pakistan. At the Khalsa College in Layallpur, he got involved in the spirit of literature that would eventually provide him fame and ultimately lead to his demise.
Slowly at college, poetry won against studies and Nand Lal immersed himself into the varied hues of poetical compositions. He quit college and joined as a schoolteacher to earn a living.
This dichotomy of the need to earn a living and write poetry as a free spirit dogged him throughout his life. It also took him into other professions, but the need to write always won in the end. The job of a schoolmaster failed to fulfill the inner urges of the poet and he finally called it quits.
His next professional venture was as unlikely a venture could be for a sensitive poet. He joined the police force as assistant sub-inspector and the destination was Bikaner.
There three persons were shot dead by the police in an encounter. Nand Lal was leading the police party that was attacked by persons who were brewing liquor illegally.
Police officer Noorpuri received a bravery award for it but it left an indelible mark on the poet Noorpuri.
Poetry takes overIn 1940, he left Bikaner to come back to Punjab and the poet in him took over completely. That year he wrote songs for the movie ‘Mangti’, launching his career as a film lyricist. Experimenting, he got into uncharted waters. He wrote an opera on the ill-fated lovers, ‘Mirza-Sahiban’,which has been irretrievably lost now. He got a contract with Colombia Film Company as a lyricist. He had fame and he got ample remunerations for doing what he wanted to do. What more could have a poet asked for.
Change of fateDestiny had something else in store for Noorpuri and India. Our Independence coincided with the biggest holocaust witnessed by the region. The partition changed everything for him. He lost his home and livelihood and came to Jalandhar, which would be his home for the next two decades. Sources of income dried up.
In the time of upheaval, poetic sensibilities were the last things on their minds. House and hearth took precedence over all else.
Noorpuri found work in the radio but the income was never enough for the family. Times had changed and how. He then got employment in the newly formed State Language Department. Poet’s nature again took over and he left the department after about two years.
He limited himself to the radio and kavi darbars for income, which was erratic and in fits and starts. Slowly, poverty increased its grip on Noorpuri and the family sunk deeper into it.
Depression and suicidal thoughts followed. Noorpuri loved life and words. He wanted to write the thoughts churning in his mind. But the rigours of life, earning a livelihood were the ultimate winners.
Family’s struggleLife after the demise of the patriarch at 60 was never easy for the family. Noorpuri’s eldest son, Satnam Singh Noorpuri, the father of Inderjit, was given a job in the Punjab Roadways. The rough life made him an alcoholic and the liquor claimed his life in 1994. The other son, Satkartar Singh Noorpuri, refusing to put up with the hard times, migrated abroad. He now lives in Switzerland with his family.
The grandson continues to live under his famous grandfather’s shadow: the same city, the same locality and the same house (constructed over a small piece of land the state government gifted to the family).
The glory and the tragedy of Noorpuri’s life continue to haunt his next generation. Inderjit could not secure a job in his father’s department. “My mother and I kept going to the offices. We even met ministers. They promised us that something would be done. But nothing happened,” he says.
Twenty seven-year-old Inderjit, married, with a child, now works as an employee on contract..He goes to work crossing a road named after his grandfather. He was there when the Chief Minister came to attend a function in the city. He will be there again.
Surinder Kaur-Gauri diyan Jhanjhran
People’s poetWhen a poet secures the love of the people, when children in villages and towns sing his creations, when college text books discuss his contributions to Punjab’s poetic tradition, when film songs are composed on his words and singers like Mohammad Rafi and Surinder Kaur sing those lines, he also becomes a myth, for people who have neither met him nor known him. He refuses to be real.
Forty years have passed. The well that fatally attracted Noorpuri was filled up and a sapling planted over it, as a memorial. It has grown into a lush, heavy tree. As if the seed was words and the tree a breathing poem.
“Chal jiya ghar apne chaliye
na kar malan adiyan
eh pardesh desh nahi sadda
ethe gunjhalan bariyan.”
1940 vich police force chadh punjab wall rukh kar lya..
te Punjabi di superhit film "mangti" de geetkaar bane..te aneka hi
superhit geet likhe jive..
1.Shounkan mele di
2.Mainu diyor de viyaah de vih nach lain de
3.Gori diya jhanjharn balaundiya gaiya,galliyan de vich dand paundiya gaiya
4.Balle ni punjab diye sher bachiye
5.Chumm-Chumm rakho ni,kalangi jujhaar di
6.Maahi ghar aaya
7.Aitho udh ja bhole panchiya,tu apni jaan bcha
Ohna di maut to baad ohna da ikk kaav sangreh "Punjab Bolyaa " vi parkaashit hoya..
1947 di Bhaarat-Pakistaan di wandh to baad aapji jallandhar aa wasse...te aithe ohna da mukh kmaayi da sarot radio te kawi darbaar hi si....jo parivaarik jarurta layi nakaafi si...
Anta di gareebi te sarkaara de rawaiye to tang aa ke..13 May,1966 nu apne hi ghar kole bane
khooh vich chaal maar...aapna jeevan samaapt kar lya....rab ohna di aatma nu shanti deve...
kade yakeen nahi aaunda...Jawaana nu halla marn layi kehan wala te soorbirta vikha tagme jitan
wala eh yodha...gareebi te sarkaara di bekadari ne khaa laina...
Noorpuri ji ne kade likhya si..
"Suraj di dhupp,kite taareya di loye
Chaanana tuhadhiya jawaaniya da hoye
himmata de naal desh aapna shingaaro,
Hor halla maaro, shero hor halla maaro.."
Ohnu nu ih likhan te vi mazboor hona pya..
" Zoravar de naal yaraana saada mool na fabbe,
hathi pairi paisan beeba tere berhiya karhiyan..
Hathi koudi sari na koi mangte mangde firde,
Kehrhe vehni milakh jaagira oye sardaaro harhiya.."