Sunday, 17 April 2011

My Beloved Grandfather Whom I never got to Know



I was just a baby when my grandfather died.  However, I feel as though I know him very well and in touch spiritually, like a guardian angel to me. 

Ishwar Chitarkar was born at village Paddi Posi in Garh Shankar (Hoshiarpur Distt., Punjab) on 11th December 1910, the son of Dr. Bhagwan Singh Bedi, one of the most esteemed veterinary surgeon in India. He was orphaned at an early age and was brought up by his grandmother's sister Mrs Uttam Devi (childless). He was educated at Punjab University, India and at Mayo School of Arts, Lahore (now in Pakistan). While staying in Lahore, he became intimate friend of the famed artist Ustad M. Abdur Rehman Chughtai who, recognising in him the sparks of genius, was his guide and encouraged him to devote himself exclusively to arts. He felt himself much indebted to Chughtai whose art and personality he revered. Ishwar Chitarkar expressed his gratitude to Chughtai by dedicating his first collection of poems to him. Also S.G.Thakur Singh (Indian Academy Of Fine Arts, Amritsar - Punjab - India) highly praised his extraordinary talent and encouraged him.

Between 1934-1944, he taught in various high schools in Punjab. In 1944 he was appointed senior artist with Associated Advertising Agencies, Simla. In 1947 he joined the Directorate of Advertising & Visual Publicity, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting at Simla. In 1954 he was transferred to New Delhi. In December 1960 he resigned this post. In 1960 he reached a turning-point in his career which has never been satisfactorily explained; it may possibly have been due to the fact that his awareness of the crisis, now becoming acute, in the cultural and political life of India. In any case, in 1961 Ishwar Chitarkar moved to London. Prof. N.S.Tasneem in his book "Studies in Modern Punjabi Literature" (1980-Avishkar Parkashan) gives this plausible explanation : "In 1954 he was transferred to New Delhi where he again found himself in the turmoil of life and letters. He then realised that his ambition of adolescent days to absorb all the knowledge of the world and to see life in its entirety had too, in the meanwhile, grown up with him and could not be resisted any longer. At last he succumbed to the call of wander lust and the goadings of his inquisitive mind and sailed for the United Kingdom in 1961."

While living in London, he founded and edited a monthly magazine in Punjabi "SAVERA" and a weekly newspaper "DES PRADES", he became President of "Punjabi Writers Association-London", did paintings, wrote poems, and held exhibitions of his paintings. Various seminars, literary meetings and conferences were also held under his guidance. He was tutor and guide to many young writers of U.K (some quite well known now) in both literary and intellectual matters.

During his last 3 years he remained unemployed for long periods and suffered hardships due to serious health problems. On 2 December 1968, he died after a violent cerebral vascular accident at Tower Hill Underground Station in London a day earlier.

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