Punjabi University, Patiala, India, 1966; pages: 119
This non-fiction book introduces Einstein’s theory of Relativity in a dialogue form inspired by Plato’s Republic and is my first publication in Punjabi. Final touches to the manuscript were given at the legendary Bhootwara house in Patiala where Lali, Gurbhagat Singh, Navtej Bharati, Sutinder Noor, Harinder Mehboob, philosopher Prem Pali and others had created an intellectual environment so conducive to creative work. Suggestions were abundant. One day Sant Singh Sekhon happened to drop in and suggested that word ‘atom’ be replaced with ‘parmanu’ which is Sanskrit based and better.
The book was originally written with the intention of winning a prize -there was some kind of an urgent need for money either in the Bhootwara or to pay off a part of my loan. As usual we missed the deadline. The manuscript lay totally forgotten in some drawer at Bhootwara until the day when Gurbhagat Singh on his own took it to Dr. Attar Singh, in charge of Punjabi university’s publication department. Lucky! Attar Singh was quick to appreciate the subject, considered too strange for Punjabi readers at that time. He liked the manuscript. I came to know of it only when I got a letter from Punjabi university asking my permission to publish the manuscript. And the university paid me 1100 Rupees! I don’t recall how much of it went to Bhootwara celebrations.
I am writing this anecdote to highlight the fact that it is not too distant a past when Punjabi literati shared much among themselves and encouraged each other. I never thanked Dr. Gurbhagat Singh nor Dr. Attar Singh who not only accepted the manuscript but to show his appreciation for it, invited Navtej and me to have coffee with the vice chancellor of the university.
“We hope the publication of this book will inspire more writers like Ajmer Singh (Rode) to discover the uncharted paths so the boundaries of their mother tongue are extended further – Kirpal Singh Narang , vice chancellor, Punjabi University, Patiala.
Indian president Dr. Radha Krishnan came to Ludhiana to open Punjabi Bhavan in 1966. I was sitting in the last row in the over crowded hall when one of the organizers came to me and asked, “Are you Ajmer Singh the author of the just published, Vishav Di Nuhar?” “Yes sir.” I replied shyly. “We thought you would be a long bearded scholarly looking old man.” He laughed and took me to the front rows where the rich and other dignitaries sat on the reserved seats. I never found out who the organizer was, likely a writer, but never forgot the respect shown to a young author.
Vishav Di Nuhar was introduced and commented upon on All India Radio, Jallandhar by Sant Singh Sekhon, as a ” significant new addition to Punjabi literature.” Some quotations included in Vishav Di Nuhar
“The most beautiful thing , we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He, to whom, this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead. His eyes are closed.” – Albert Einstein
“Truth seems to come with its final word, and the final word gives birth to its next” – Rabindra Nath Tagore.
“The stars, she whispers, blindly run” – Lord Tennyson