Voice of the poor, he was soft yet powerful
Ludhiana, August 15: As 63-year-old Lal Singh Dil breathed his last at Dayanand Medical College and Hospital last night after a brief hospitalisation, an era of revolutionary Punjabi poetry ended.
With him, Punjabi poetry lost one of its brightest gems. Born and brought up in Samrala, Dil was the voice of the poorest of the poor.
Having faced the worst forms of oppression in name of casteism, Dil found poetry an outlet of his pain.
His four works, Naglok, Bahut Sare Suraj, Sathar and Satluj Dee Hawa, are regarded as Punjabi classics.
Sarod Sudip, a well-known Punjabi poet and a close friend of Dil, says, "He was the most honest amongst all Punjabi poets. We all have egos but he was a man who was very humble. His elevated the level of Punjabi poetry."
Sudip remembers, "Each time we had a poetic gathering, we prayed that Dil should not participate as his renditions would make all other works look little. Even in his anger, he had softness. Though he was a contemporary of Paash and both vented their anger against oppression, when Dil wrote, the words hit more, for he was polite, yet firm."
Dr Sutinder Singh Noor, well-known Punjabi critic, says, "Dil was a soft poet. His anger would never harm others but motivate to bring about the needed social change. There are some of his poems in which he talks of violence, but as a critic and having read most of Dil's works, I would say that part is miniscule. Dil is a part of the great Punjabi poetry brigade comprising Paash, Harbhajan Halwarvi, Surjit Patar and Amitoj."
All those who met Dil during their lifetimes could never get over his charm, as Nirupama Dutt, a poet and journalist, recalls, "I remember translating two of Dil's short poems way back in 1979 for a magazine called 'Springthunder'. Amarjit Chandan, who is Dil's friend and fan, gave me this task. I had not met Dil, as at that time he was underground for being an active naxalite. And finally in 1993, I got a chance to spend some time with him when I offered him and Sarod Sudip lift from Jalandhar to Samrala. I had never seen a man so very chivalrous and charming as Dil. He was honest to the core, bereft of dirty politics, and very sensitive."
Dutt adds, "In April this year, we did a musical on one of his poems."