Prominent Punjabi writer and Jnanpith awardee Gurdial Singh passed away in Bathinda on August 16, when he was under treatment in a private hospital in Bathinda for the last about 10 days.
Who is Gurdial Singh?
Gurdial Singh Rahi was a Punjabi language writer and novelist from Punjab, India. He started his literary career in 1957 with a short-story, Bhaganwale.
- He became known as a novelist when he published the novel Marhi Da Deevain 1964. The novel was later adapted into Punjabi films Marhi Da Deeva in 1989 which was directed by Surinder Singh. His novel Anhe Ghore Da Daan was also made into a film of same name in 2011 by director Gurvinder Singh. Singh was honoured with the Padma Shri in 1998 and Jnanpith Award in 1999.
- Gurdial Singh was born on 10 January 1933 to carpenter father Jagat Singh and mother Nihal Kaur, in the village of Bhaini Fateh near Jaituin British Punjab. He began working as a carpenter at the age of 12 to support his family’s poor financial conditions.
- Singh took various jobs like making wheels for bullock cartsand metal sheet forming for water tanks. He and his father together earned ₹20 a day from hard labour.
- In childhood, Singh was also interested in painting. Madan Mohan Sharma, the headmaster of a middle school in Jaito encouraged him to study although his father thought it was futile. Singh completed his Matric examination still continuing with his day time jobs.
- At the age of 14 he married Balwant Kaur. In 1962 he took the job of school teacher in Nandpur Kotrawhich paid him ₹60in monthly salary. He still continued his own education completing B.A. in English and History and later M.A. in Punjabi in 1967.
- He started his literary career in 1957 with a short story, Bhaganwale, which was published in Panj Darya, a magazine edited by Mohan Singh. His later stories were published in Preetlari, edited by Gurbaksh Singh. His major work, Marhi Da Deeva, established him as a novelist.
- Singh wrote four different versions of the novel over four years before publishing the final in 1964. Various characters of the novel were recreations of real life people woven into fictitious storyline.It was translated into English as The Last Flicker by Sahitya Akademi.
Singh’s other notable works include novels like
- Addh Chanani Raat(1972),
- Anhe Ghore Da Daan(1976) and
collections of short stories, including
- Saggi Phull(1962),
- Kutta Te Aadmi(1971),
- Begana Pind(1985) and
- Kareer Di Dhingri(1991); and
- autobiographies Neean Mattiyan(1999) and
- Dojee Dehi(2000).
Singh received various awards including the Sahitya Akademi Award in Punjabi in 1975 for the novel Adh Chanani Raat, the Soviet Land Nehru Award in 1986, the Bhai Veer Singh Fiction Award in 1992, the Shiromani Sahitkar Award in 1992, the Jnanpith Award in 1999 and the Padma Shri in 1998. He shared the Jnanpith Award with Hindi language author Nirmal Verma.