Chandigarh:“When life gets tough, the tough gets going.” The saying truly applies to Padma Shri and Jnanpith awardee Gurdial Singh, who passed away at a Bathinda nursing home on Tuesday after prolonged illness. He was 83, Born on January 10, 1933 to father Jagat Singh and mother Nihal Kaur in the village of Jaitu now in Faridkot district of Malwa, Singh’s journey has been truly inspirational.Having been raised in the family of traditional carpenters, he too took to making wooden objects and structures to earn a living at the mere age of 12. But, life had other plans for him.
Grew up amid poverty, and married off at the age of 13, he didn’t let his education suffer, no matter how situations seemingly appeared unfavourable for him.He cleared his matriculation examination in 1953 and the ‘Giyani’ examination in Punjabi language and literature in 1954, and went on to be become a primary school teacher in a village.Singh’s aspirations didn’t end here. Four years after doing MA in Punjabi, he got a college lecturership in 1971.
Though he started his literally career in 1952, he gained recognition in 1957 when his short story Bhagan Wale was published in magazine Punj Darya. Later in 1964, he published his novel Marhi Da Deeva, which was in 1989 adapted into a Punjabi film starring Deepti Naval, Raj Babbar and Parikshit Sahni.Translated in many Indian and foreign languages, it even today is one of the most discussed works in Punjabi literature.
His other novel Anhe Ghore Da Daan (1976) too was adapted into film by director Gurvinder Singh in 2011, which won four national awards, the Golden Peacock Award at the International Film Festival of India and the Black Pearl Trophy at the Abu Dhabi film festival.In total, Singh wrote ten novels, including Anhoe (1966), Addh Chanani Raat (1972), and Parsa (1991); 12 collections of short stories, including Saggi Phull (1962), Kutta Te Aadmi (1971), Begana Pind (1985) and Kareer Di Dhingri (1991); and translated more than 30 books, thus carving a niche for himself as one of the most eminent Punjabi novelists.
Proficient at exploring the intricacies of life through his writings, Singh also has to his credit Sahitya Akademi award, Punjab Sahitya Akademi award, Soviet land Nehru Puraskar and Shiromani Sahityakar Puraskar.Singh was man of his own ideologies, and he lived up to them. When in 2015, many authors returned their awards as a mark of protest against the “rising intolerance” and government’s “onslaught on freedom of expression”, he didn’t jump of the bandwagon, and stated decisively, “I will not return the Padma Shri or any other award.”
Before serious health problems gripped him last year, he was winding up the second volume of his novel Aahan, which he assured, will not be a commodity for the markets to exploit, unlike the creative art of writing in today’s time.
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