Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Veteren Naxalite poet Lal Singh Dil in Critical condition

Fire brand Punjabi poet Lal Singh Dil admitted DMCH, needs surgery
Amrita Chaudhry

Ludhiana, August 13: After a life of penury, struggle and torture at the hand of police, the fire brand voice of Punjabi poetry Lal Singh Dil now struggles for life at DMCH.

Dil, who is on life-support system, needs immediate surgery to clear an obstruction in his stomach. His family says that Dil has not eaten a morsel for over a fortnight now. Earlier tall and strappy, Dil now lies shriveled up in his hospital bed. The eyes that once spewed fire are glazed, and do not recognize any one.
Lal Singh Dil(right) at his tea stall in better times

Gulzar Mohammad Goriya, a well known short story writer and a close friend of Dil says the poet has been facing this problem for the last 15 days. “We showed him to doctors in Samrala, but last night they referred him here.”

The doctors taking care of Dil say his medical condition does not permit surgery. And in the hour of need, many have risen to the call. MLA Ludhiana West Harish Rai Dhanda has announced that the entire medical treatment of Dil will be taken care of. His medicines will be provided by the local Gurmail Medical Hall.

Dil is the man who wrote immortal lines like When the labourer woman, Roasts her heart on the tawa, The moon laughs from behind the tree, The father amuses the younger one, Making music with bowl and plate, The older one tinkles the bells, Tied to his waist, And he dances, These songs do not die.... (Poem titled Dance translated by Nirupama Dutt). He is a contemporary of poets like Amarjit Chandan, Paash, Surjit Patar and Sant Ram Udasi.

In the early 60s, this Dalit poet was in Class X when his first poem appeared in the famous Punjabi literary journal Preetlari. In the early 70s, he compiled an anthology of poems titled ‘Satluj di Hawa’ (The Winds of Satluj), which is considered an epoch in the history of Punjabi revolutionary poetry.

An active member of the naxal movement, Dil had to flee Punjab after police excesses. For over two decades his lived in Uttar Pradesh, converted to Islam and worked as farm labourer. In the 80s, Dil returned to his home land and was cared for by his elder brother Amar Singh and his family. Dil ran a roadside tea shop, which he had to close down about three years ago, due to failing health.


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