The famed punjabi writer Amrita Pritam apart from being gracefully charming, was very soft spoken. I have been to her house many times  in relation to literature & literary activities, recalls Manas Ranjan Mahapatra about his time with Amrita Pritam.

When I joined NBT way back in 1990 my office was in a rented building at Green Park. The House of Dr J P Das at Hauz Khas was almost in front of my office and often I used to meet him for advice. Houses of two great authors of Punjabi, Amrita Pritam and Kartar Singh Duggal were almost next door.

Legendary Writer Amrita Pritam

National Book Trust did not have its Odia Advisory Panel Meeting for 13 years when I joined. My immediate predecessor was a nice person, but had no background of literature and publishing. I took Odisha Sahitya Akademi as a partner in many activities. To my great fortune, Indubhusan Kar, who was an OAS officer, was the Secretary. We together planned to hold a National Conference of Odia Literature at Delhi.

Indubabu and I together roamed around Delhi to meet prominent writers of other languages who can possibly be roped in to participate in the conference to give it a national colour. It was the maiden attempt to put Odia Literature in the national perspective.

We went to residences of writers like Indira Goswami, Sisir Kumar Das, Kedarnath Singh and many, and finally reached the residence of Amrita Pritam. It was evening. One gentleman came out. I presumed; he may be Imroz with whom Amrita Pritam was living in for years. He welcomed us and took inside. The room had dreamy light, not very sharp. Indubabu had informed Amrita Pritam of our visit beforehand. We met her.

What a graceful beauty she had. And, a very soft tone. She was a personal friend of Nandini Satpathy, writer and former CM and had visited Odisha a number of times. She agreed to be in the Conference and did it. With Coffee and Pakoda we returned with a happy note.

I have been to the house of Amrita Pritam on many occasions for some or the other works of NBT. Many times, I met Imroz, who always tried to keep himself away from public eye and used to do painting. Whenever Young Odia Writers used to ask me for help to meet renowned writers in Delhi, I used to send them to Amrita Pritam, Kartar Singh Duggal, Kamaleswar or Kedarnath Singh.

Today is the birth day anniversary of Amrita Pritam. She died a bit early. I translated her poems and wrote a piece on her when she got Jnanpith in Alok in 1981.There was a lot of hue and cry when she got Jnanpith. Later I understood that many such awards are given on several considerations and not literary excellence alone. But she was a very good writer.

A few years back after the death of Amrita Pritam, Nirakar Das, PRO of East Coast Railways wanted to hold a function to remember the great author and wanted Imroz to be there. He approached me and I called Imroz.

‘Manasji, when Amrita was alive, I used to not accompany her, for I always wanted her to remain great alone. Now, after her death I still maintain the same conviction. I don’t want to take a share from her greatness.’ Imroz politely replied.