The body may be weak, but Dr Sardar Anjum’s spirit is strong, as the renowned poet, lyricist and recipient of the Padma Shri, Padma Bhushan and Millennium Peace Award, battles serious health conditions due to diabetes, kidney and heart problems.
In and out of hospitals for the last many months, Anjum suffered a heart attack and required immediate surgery of his foot, which has been affected by diabetes.
“He was in the ICU, with doctors treating him for multiple problems. The physical and emotional toll it has taken on him is hard to express, but what has really pulled him down is the amputation of his toes. It’s the first time that I have seen him so dejected. Apart from the illness, the lack of any kind of support from the government has left us quite disillusioned. The treatment is both expensive and tedious and it’s a tough time for both of us and our young daughter,’’ says Gulsher, Anjum’s wife of 25 years.
Back home in Panchkula, Anjum, who has more than 27 published works in Urdu and Punjabi and has written many beautiful lyrics for albums, says that at this juncture of his life, he doesn’t want to give up, but with the power of his words and poetry wants to fight for the cause of artists, demanding support and security for them from the government.
“Our fraternity should be recognised, the least the government can do is provide us with health insurance and financial support in these tough times. There are so many wonderful artists out there who need help, and I want to fight for them,’’ says Anjum.
Artists, adds the poet, are pillars of society, giving hope and strength to people, when things are in a mess. “Where governments fail, artists step in and help people. If no one fights for them, how will they survive?’’ asks Anjum.
Anjum says he has seen many struggles, and what has kept him going is his writing and the love for his country and its people. “It’s a privilege to be a poet, one that God has given me. No matter what my condition, I want to live in the hearts of people and write for them. I am a poet who doesn’t believe in death. I have firm faith in the universe, love and God.’’
Alvida dhadkanon ko jab kehna, jab khuda ko teri zaroorat ho… words come easy to Anjum.