Tilok Chand Mehroom

Life & Work

 
An Eventful Life | A Poet of Renown | Poetry Collections | Compilations | Books On Mehroom | Selected Poems


An Eventful Life

TCM
1 July 1887 - 6 January 1966

Early Years: My grandfather, Tilok Chand Mehroom, was born in the village of Mouza Noor Zaman Shah in the District of Mianwali, North West Frontier Province (now Pakistan) on 1 July 1887 The village consisted of some 20-25 homes on the bank of Sindh Nadi (River Indus). It was under constant threat of flooding and was destroyed & rebuilt many times before his family gave up their small farm & shop and moved to Isakhel.

Education: At the age of 6/7 years he joined Vernacular Middle School where he topped the class every year and received scholarships in the 5th & 8th years. He passed the Matriculation examination with a first-class certificate in 1907 from Diamond Jubilee School, Bannu (there was no high school in Isakhel). Following this, he entered the Central Training College, Lahore where he trained as a teacher.

Career: My grandfather's first posting as a teacher was at Mission High School, Dera Ismail Khan in 1908. He got a transfer to Isakhel for domestic reasons but he was concerned about the lack of clean water and its affect on his health here. This led to another move in 1924: to Kaloorkote as headmaster of the local middle school. Following my father's move to Rawalpindi in 1933 (for higher education), my grandfather sought a transfer there and accepted the post of headmaster at the Cantonment Board School. He worked there till his retirement in 1943.

Soon after, he was appointed as lecturer in Urdu and Farsi at Gordon College. The partition of India put an end to his stay in Rawalpindi. He finished with the College in December 1947. (He did visit Gordon College again - when he was invited to the College's Golden Jubilee celebrations in 1953.).

On arrival in Delhi, he worked as Editor, Tej Weekly (literary section of Tej Daily) for a time.

The University of Punjab was divided along with the country. To deal with the issue of adult education for refugees in India, the Government approved the University's proposal to open a college in Delhi. Camp College was established in Hastings School and my grandfather accepted the post of Professor of Urdu - taking classes in the evenings. He retained this post till his retirement in December 1957.

Life History in a Nutshell: My grandfather described the year April 1907 - May 1908 as one of mental anguish: during this period his father passed away.

Tragedy seems to have followed him. His first wife expired in Dera Ismail Khan in 1915, leaving a toddler (my aunt, Vidya). Working full time and looking after a child has its difficulties. So, he returned to Isakhel the following year to join the family.

The same year he married Asha Devi, my grandmother. They had one son (my father, Jagan Nath Azad) and three daughters (Shakuntala. Savitri & Krishna). Shakuntala died at the age of two years leaving my grandfather bereft. Vidya married in 1929 and had four children: three daughters - Prem & Sanyukta (twins) and Urmila - and a son who only lived for a few days. But this period of joy was short-lived too. Vidya committed suicide in 1935. This sad event had a profound & lasting affect on my grandfather's life and his poetry.

At the time of the partition, my younger sister & I were staying with our grandparents in Rawalpindi (my father was in Lahore) because of our mother's prolonged terminal illness. My grandfather often spoke of the help we got from military officers, staff of Gordon College and others once he had decided to leave his beloved Rawalpindi. I don't remember him ever being critical of Pakistan, but leaving 'home' left a hurt that, I don't believe, ever healed. A feeling of deprivation stayed with him for the rest of his days.

My grandfather breathed his last breath on 6 January 1966 after an illness of five weeks.

Beliefs & Outlook:If I had to choose one phrase to define my grandfather's 'philosophy', I would say that, "he abhorred religious discrimination". He believed that there was good in all religions and that there was no reason why, with give-and-take, people should not be able to get along together. Born in a Hindu family, he had grown up in a predominantly Muslim community. These early years had a considerable influence on his thinking. When Shakuntala died, her remains were buried (in the Muslim way), not cremated (the Hindu way). Throughout his life, he gave precedence to "the man" over "his religion". In death, his four pall-bearers included two Hindus, one Muslim & one Sikh, and the Dasween (ceremony performed on the 10th day after death) included recitals from the Vedas & Geeta (Hindu), the Qura'an (Muslim) and Sukhmani Sahib (Sikh).

He was a disciplinarian, commanding respect from younger members of the family without losing his temper. He was methodical in his habits. He was particular about his diet. He loved nature in all its forms and was a keen walker, preferring to walk alone whenever possible.

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A Poet of Renown

Early Development: Considering the environment my grandfather grew up in, it is no less than wondrous that he developed a love of poetry and achieved such acclaim as an Urdu poet himself!

There was no such thing as a 'library' in the schools of North West Frontier Province and access to literary works was limited. There was no opportunity of formal training or instruction. He found poetry collections of Mirza Ghalib & Mohammad Ibrahim Zauq during his 4 years in Bannu and read them eagerly. He had started penning simple couplets whilst still at primary school, but it was during his time at Bannu that he started taking his writing seriously.

Khidmat-e-Validain, a nazm that he composed when he was about 12/13 years old earned him the praise not only from the Divisional Inspector of Schools but also from the Director of Education. On the death of Empress Victoria in 1901, he wrote an elegy that included the couplet: Elegy

Introduction to Fame: Although the language of Bannu was Pushto, Mehroom's name as an Urdu poet was known to the Diamond Jubilee School teachers by the time he arrived there as a student. His poems were being published in Makhzan (Lahore) and Zamana (Kanpur) before he finished school. Once he moved to Rawalpindi, he became a frequent invitee to the annual mushairas organised by Khwaja Abdul Raheem in Lyalpur (regulars included Jigar Muradabadi & Hafeez Jullundhari among others).

Influences: My grandfather had no formal instruction for poetry writing. There was no opportunity for him to become a senior poet's shaagird (desciple). Ghalib & Zauq's divans (poetry collections) were his introduction to Urdu poetry.

Lahore proved to be a source of inspiration. It was here that he wrote Noorjahan Ke Mazaar Par (on sighting it from the train coming into Lahore) & Kinaar-e-Ravi and here that he first participated in a mushaira.

His poetry composed in Dera Ismail Khan (1908 - 1916) was, to an extent, influenced by his friendship with Bhanjun Ram Gandhi (a fellow teacher and, later, Khan Abdul Ghafar Khan's friend & mentor). Literature of this period reflects the political unrest in the country - and his poetry is no exception (sample: (Bharat Mata Kyun Roti Hai)). The political climate of the country was such that poems of a political nature were often published in newspapers and magazines under an assumed name to avoid resulting persecution.

There was a sense of mutual respect between him and Allama Iqbal. Their first meeting (in 1913, Lahore) soon turned into friendship - mainly conducted through correspondence (they only met three times). Although my grandfather was not a political activist, he did disagree with Iqbal's proposals for 'India's independence' at the Round Table Conference in London (1930-32).

Rawalpindi provided him with a near perfect environment: attractive location, pleasant climate and a literary atmosphere were all here.

My grandfather's poetry is a reflection of his environment and events in his life. In addition to his poems inspired by the political climate, he wrote about nature, love, life & death including the heart-rending elegies on his first wife and on Vidya) and religion. His works include translations of Shakespeare (from English), Umar Khayyam & Sa'adi Shirazi (from Farsi) and Bhagwad Geeta (from Sanskrit). He also composed poetry for children.

Honoured by the Government of Punjab: The annual Sahitya Samaroh (literary convention) of the Government of Punjab dedicated its 1962 session to Tilok Chand Mehroom for his "services to literature" and presented him with a robe of honour, a testimonial and a purse. (Forty-five years earlier, the contemporary Government of Punjab had awarded him a cash prize for his service to literature.).

Poetry (Nazm, Ghazal, Rubai & Qatah collections)

 
Title
Year
Publisher
Comment

bk1
Ganj-e-Ma'ani


bk3
Rubaiyat-e-Mehroom


bk8
Mehroom


bk9
Bachchon Ki Duniya


bk10
Click here to read
Bachchon Ki Duniya

Kalaam-e-Mehroom
(Hissa Awwal)

1918
1921

Originally published from Lahore, these books are no longer avaialable

Mehroom received a prize of Rs 250 from the Department of Education (NWFP) for Kalaam-e-Mehroom (Hissa Awwal) and the book was approved for placement in school libraries

Kalaam-e-Mehroom
(Hissa Doam)

1920

Kalaam-e-Mehroom
(Hissa Soam)

1923

Ganj-e-Ma'ani

1932

U C Kapur & Sons
Lahore, (then) India

Inludes virtually all of Kalaam-e-Mehroom (Hissa Awwal) as well as previously unpublished compositions; and consists of 170 Nazms and several Ghazals & Qatahs (in Urdu & Farsi), 19 translations of Sheikh Sa'adi's poems (from Farsi) and 47 translations of Shakespeare's sonnets (from Emglish)

1957

Dlli Kitab Ghar
Delhi, India

1995

Mehroom Memorial Literary
Society, New Delhi, India

Maharishi Darshan

1937

Aiwan-e-Adab
Lahore, (then) India

Religious poems and Vedic translations

Rubaiyat-e-Mehroom

1947

Maktaba-e-Daanish
Lahore, Pakistan

Rubai collection

1954

Rasala Biswin Sadi
Delhi, India

1971

Maktaba-e-Jamia Ltd
New Delhi, India

1983

Lahore, Pakistan

1995

Mehroom Memorial Literary
Society, New Delhi, India

Bahar-e-Nazm

1948

Attar Chand Kapur
Ambala & Delhi, India

Collection of poems.

Karwan-e-Watan

1960

Maktaba-e-Jamia Ltd
New Delhi, India

Poetry reflecting national political situation and about patriotism. Part 1 of the book consists of poems written from 1906 to 1947 and Part 2 contains those from 1947 onwards.

Nairang-e-Maani

1960
1964

Maktaba-e-Jamia Ltd
New Delhi, India

Includes 79 Nazms

1996

Mehroom Memorial Literary
Society, New Delhi, India

Shola-e-Nawa

1960
1965

Maktaba-e-Jamia Ltd
New Delhi, India

Collection of Ghazals. The book is in three parts: 1947-57, 1930-1947 and 1906-30

Bahar-e-Tifli

1960

Maktaba-e-Jamia Ltd
New Delhi, India

Collection of poems for children, which contains original compositions as well as translations of poems by reputed English poets

2014

Mukta Lall
New Delhi, India

Transliterated in Devnagari (Hindi) script and published in limited edition by Mukta Lall, grand-daughter

Mehroom

1963

Anjuman Tarraqi-e-Urdu
(Hind), Aligarh, India

Selection of previously published poems

Bachchon Ki Duniya

1964
1967

Maktaba-e-Jamia Ltd
New Delhi, India

Collection of poems for children (Recepient of Government of India's cash prize)

2012

Mukta Lall
New Delhi, India

Transliterated in Devnagari (Hindi) script and published in limited edition by Mukta Lall, grand-daughter

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Books On Mehroom

Title
Author
Year
Publisher
Comments

Tilok Chand Mehroom

Various

1959

Idara-e-Farogh-e-Urdu
Lucknow, India

Compilation of literary criticism of Mehroom's work

Afkaar-e-Mehroom

Various

1967

Mehroom Memorial Literary Society
New Delhi, India

Collection of articles on Mehroom (compiled by Malik Ram)

Aasaar-e-Mehroom

Various

1969
1979
1989
2003

Pagdandi (Amritsar)
Punjab, India

"Mehroom Number" compiled by
Dr Gopi Chand Narang
Reader (Urdu), University of Delhi

Hayat-e-Mehroom

Jagan Nath Azad

1987

Anjuman Taraqqi-e-Urdu (Hind)
New Delhi, India

Biography of Tilok Chand Mehroom

Tilok Chand Mehroom

Ram Lal Nabhvi

1989
1992

Sahitya Akademy
New Delhi, India

Biography of Tilok Chand Mehroom

Makers of Indian Literature - Tilok Chand Mehroom

Gurdial Singh 'Aarif'

1992

Sahitya Akademy
New Delhi, India

English translation of Ram Lal Nabhi's Biography of Tilok Chand Mehroom

Tilok Chand Mehroom Ki Shairi Aur Jad-o-Jehad-e-Azadi-e-Hind

Dr Darakhshaan Taajwar

1998

Mehroom Memorial Literary Society
New Delhi, India

Critical comment on Mehroom's poetry in the light of struggle for Indian Independence

Tilok Chand Mehroom: Ek Matalya

Kamil Behzaadi

1996
1999

Mehroom Memorial Literary Society
New Delhi, India

Critical comment on Mehroom's poetry and his contibution to Urdu literature

Tilok Chand Mehroom: Shakhsiyat Aur Phun

Dr Zeenat-Allah Javed

1997

Mehroom Memorial Literary Society
New Delhi, India

Appraisal of Mehroom's personality and art

bk8
Yaadien

Mukta Lall

2015

Mukta Lall
New Delhi, India

Written in Devnagri script, the book is a tribute by his grand-daughter. It consists of Mukta's personal memories, reflections on Mehroom's works, selected poems and photographs

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Selected Poems

Bharat Mata Kyun Roti Hai (mid-1900s)
Bharat Mata ...

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Aandhi (From Ganj-e-Ma'ani)

(Inspired by the ferocious dust storms of Kaloorkote)

From Ganj-e-Ma'ani-
Andhi

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Created on 5 December 2006
Updated on 6 February 2016
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