Eminent Punjabi writer and Sahitya Akademi winner Professor Niranjan Singh Tasneem died at his residence in Ludhiana’s Vishal Nagar Saturday. He was 91.
Tasneem’s son Gurinderjit Singh Puri said that his father was bed-ridden for almost a year now. “He was suffering from old-age related ailments and was confined to bed,” said Puri.
Born in Amritsar on May 1, 1929, Tasneem had served as a professor at SCD Government College, Ludhiana. He initially wrote in Urdu before switching to English and Punjabi.
He was awarded Punjab’s highest literary honor – Punjabi Sahit Rattan – in 2015.
It was in 1999 that Tasneem was awarded Sahitya Akademi award for his novel ‘Gawache Arth’ (The Lost Meaning) which was based on Punjab and lives of Punjabis in 1984.
Talking about the novel in an interview, Tasneem had said that he tried to write about Operation Bluestar and anti-Sikh riots and lives of Punjabis thereafter in the most emotional and explanatory way possible. He said that he named it ‘Gawache Arth’ because “once came a time when Punjabis lost the meaning of their lives”.
His another widely acclaimed novel was ‘Ikk Hor Nawan Saal’ (Another New Year) in which he wrote about the life of a rickshaw puller and the daily struggles he goes through. This novel was part of the class 10 syllabus of Punjab School Education Board (PSEB) for almost 15 years.
He also wrote about the pain of India-Pakistan Partition in his novel ‘Jado Sawer Hoyi’ (When Dawn Happened), which too was a critically acclaimed piece of work.
In his novel ‘Ret Chall’, he wrote about his own life when he moved from Amritsar to Shimla from 1951 to 1961, through the novel’s protagonist Daljit Singh. Tasneem had said that he tried to capture the nostalgia and beauty of the hill-town where he spent 10 years, in the novel.
He was also a fellow at Indian Institute of Advanced Studies, Shimla in 1998-99 and worked on Punjabi literature research there too.
His first Punjabi novel was ‘Parchawein’ while the Urdu novels were ‘Sogwar’ (1960) and Monalisa (1962). Tasneem had said that though he stopped writing in Urdu, he remained connected with the language and never stopped reading Urdu literature.
His last Punjabi novel was ‘Talaash Hoyi Sadeevi’ (published in 2000) and his last published work was ‘Sahitkaari Atey Sahitik Paripekh’ in 2014.
Tasneem had once said, “Sahitkaar samaaj ton prabhaav kabool karda hai atey apne taur tey samaaj nu prabhaavit vi karda hai. Lod anusaar eh siyaasat diyan galat chaalan nu nindda vi hai. Ehi kaaran hai ki siyaasatdaan, sidhey jaan asidhey tarikey naal, sahitkaar nu apne rasookh adheen rakhna chahunde ney. (Writers get influenced from society and through their writings they also influence the society. They also criticize the wrongdoings of politicians in their own way. This is the reason why politicians, by hook or crook, want to keep writers under their control)”.
He is survived by wife Jatinder Kaur, two daughters, and a son.