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Abdul Qadir/TNN

Daily Times of India

Published Date: Apr 9, 2015

Punjabi literature on both sides incomplete without other: Pak writer

With glimpses of Punjabi literature from the other side of the border, Pakistani writer Ahmad Salim shared more than just his poems with students at Panjab University. He brought along memories, snippets from his homeland as well as reflections on the problems that divide the two nations.

While reading out his poems at the department of Punjabi on Wednesday, Salim said there was no difference in Punjabi literature on both sides. “Each is incomplete without the other. We cannot stay isolated. We have to move together,” he said, addressing the

Salim, who has written and worked extensively over religious minorities in Pakistan, recalled that Christians and Sikhs were asked to overnight turn Muslims to stay alive after the Partition. Narrating a poem that emerged from such an experience, Salim shared the memory with students.

“I remember visiting a woman with my family who suddenly put a sheet over a cot. As a child, I didn ‘t realize
why she would do it and pulled the sheet to look what was beneath it. There lay hidden a granth sahib that she had been reading,” he recalled.
“Many such people whose generations were staying in the same place suddenly turned alien to the land and those who had moved there overnight claimed it was their own,” said Salim, who is also a senior advisor at the Sustainable Development Policy Institute in Islamabad.

Salim also shared his poem on Amrita Pritam and later asked students to share about Punjabi literature that they study.

On the sidelines of the interaction, Salim said that difficulties in getting a visa affected literary figures more than actors, cricketers or
singers, who could be seen by the general people but writers needed to be there to actually interact with their readers. Salim shared that he picks up Indian literature in Punjabi from London and has built his library.

He spoke about the archives he has set up for Punjabi literature and said it could be accessed from any part of the world. But
he rued the fact the literature was still stuck in the age of Partition. “We are still reading literature from 50 years ago. The young
need to write newer literature,” he added.