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Always Being Born
The Ninth Flower: Best of Amrita Pritam
Literary Anthology
Transcreated from the Hindi original by Jyoti Sabharwal
ISBN: 978-93-82035-31-2
Hardbound PP 600, Rs 950
Agony and ecstasy are two frenetic states of a mystical spirit and Amrita Pritam infused that spirit in her poetic prose and verses. A creative genius, a legend in her lifetime, she touched the heart and soul of bibliophiles with reflective allusions to mythology and history, and alsodelved in the metaphysical sphere with parables and similes. Be it the resonance of romantic poetry and longing, the heart-rending tales of Partition, or contemplative essays, her ingenious artistry of words and imagery converged in the spiritual realm. This confluence was facilitated by her vision as a quintessential Sufi,seeking cosmic amalgamation in the stream of consciousness.
As she wrote incessantly, her virtuosity surpassed these epithets – the Grande Dame of Punjabi literature – the Prima Donna of contemporary rebels.How she correlated with the
anguish of women with such intensity,and her introspective writing that stirred emotions,elicited global renown. No wonder, her works were translated in over thirty regional and foreign languages. But her literary luminosity transcended all the national and international laurels conferred on her – be it the Padma Shri, Padma Vibhushan, Bharatiya Jnanpith Award, Vaptsarov Award andOrder of SaintsCyril & Methodius (Bulgaria), Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (France), nomination to Rajya Sabha, the first woman poet to have been bestowed the Sahitya Akademi Awardin 1956, as also Sahitya Akademi Fellowship for lifetime achievement, Poetess of the Millennium Award by Delhi State, orthe first recipient of Punjab Rattan Award –for her ultimate desire was to offer an incisive insight into her inner world.
The Ninth Flower is an assimilation of the varied genres of Amrita Pritam’s writing – an endeavour to plumb the depths of her rumination. Personally handpicked by the illustrious litterateur before her demise, this collection is also inclusive of some of her hitherto unpublished work that she entrusted to the transcreator of thisvolume.
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Jyoti Sabharwal holds aMaster’s in English Literature from Indraprastha College, Delhi University, and studied Journalism at Dateline Delhi. Her eclectic career,spanning over three and a half decades, as a journalist, accredited media critic, editor, travel writer, translator, broadcaster and biographer has combined a sweeping overview of the many strands of people and places with a demonstrable sense of the 'human capital' in her various positions. She was invited by the British Tourist Authority and the Foreign & Commonwealth Office to write on the Indo-Oxbridge Connection and eminent Indians in Britain.
Formerly, a consultant with Macmillan India, and the founder-publisher of Stellar, she has co-authored the autobiographies and memoirs of Kapil Dev, Begum Akhtar, Vyjayantimala, Amrish Puri and Russi Mody, as also penned the biography of Dr Kapila Vatsyayan.Her transcreation of Amrita Pritam’s second autobiography, Shadows of Words, and the National Award-winning biography, Kundan – Saigal’s Life & Music,from the Hindi original were critically acclaimed. Currently, she’s occupied with the biography of luminary scholar-art historian Dr Lokesh Chandra.
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‘If you have to define what is poetry
I would say –
It’s a cave where someone has meditated.
And when no one is there any longer
What remains is the vibrated dust.
The lamp that burnt is no longer there
What remains is a residue of smoke.
The incense for worship is no longer there
What remains is what clings
To the hem of the air.
The vibrated dust, the residue of smoke
And what hangs on to the hem of the air
That is poetry...’
Amrita Pritam
 
***
An extraordinary transcreation! A deftly put together melding of the legendary writer’s intensity, intellectual profundities and poetic fervour. A must-read. This is a cohesive and compelling work on Amrita Pritam – a godsend tome for those who love to engage with her mind.
M Mukundan, a former diplomat, is recipient of Sahitya Akademi Award,Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award, Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres (France), and Ezhuthachan Puruskaram, the highest literary honour conferred by the Kerala State.

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