Love stories of Ved Pal Deep

The acclaimed king of Dogri ghazals, Ved Pal Deep, fell in love twice. Both times, his love stories were much talked about and attracted attention far and wide.
The first love story was born in 1945, when he was barely 16 and the girl was just 14. Then, a few years apart, again he fell in love. This time he was 27 and the girl was 16 !
It is interesting to note that at 16, Ved Pal Deep ( nee Dharmart ) was enamored of a young teenager who lived just across the lane from his home. This young and beautiful lass named Kaushalya was the sister of a political strongman.
Deep was simply infatuated by her looks and wrote a long poem about her, in bits and pieces. He used to recite the poem, as it progressed, to his friends in the Prince of Wales College, Jammu. The poem titled “Shalya” (short for Kaushalya) became very popular amongst the young collegians.
His college friends, especially Yash Sharma (later acclaimed Prince of Dogri Songs) Chandrakant Joshi (later well known poet) and Ved Bhasin ( later renowned journalist ) were gaga over his first love poem.
Ved Bhasin got 1000 copies of this long love poem printed. Six hundred copies of the printed poem were sold at four anna apiece to the fellow students. Rest of the copies were destroyed in a bonfire under political pressure from the family of Kaushalya.
Not a single copy of the poem survived the bonfire. Only two small stanzas have managed to reach us :
Shalya mujh ko dekha karti,
Jab main chhat par padhne jata
Voh bhi bhagi bhagi ja kar,
Neeche se basta la kar
Jhoot-moot padhne lagg jati
Main bhi kuchh na padhne pata

( Shalya looks at me coyly.
When I go to the roof to study
She too rushes to go down
To fetch her satchel
She pretends she is studying
I too can’t study anymore…)

Shalya tum nadan badi ho
Shalya tum pashan badi ho
Lekin mera padhna dekh kar
Shalya tum hairan badi ho.

( Shalya, you are just innocent !
Shalya, you are like a stone!
But, you are astonished
Looking at me studying! )

This was rather a tame end to love story number one of Ved Pal Deep ( VPD ), which was essentially a one-sided affair. He could not even speak those three magical words to the girl : I love you !
The second love story, however, was the most talked about love story of the last century Jammu. It has a lyrical beginning, but a tragic ending.
The ladylove here is a beautiful young girl, in the middle of her teens. This girl called Padma Badu is fond of writing poems in her mother tongue Dogri.
At the tender and slippery age of 16 years, she recites a poem at a mushaira, which is highly appreciated by the audience that included the chief minister of the state. Thereby begins a new chapter in the annals of fast-paced love stories of Jammu and Kashmir.
The next day, her poem is splashed in Sandesh, an Urdu newspaper edited by an established and well known young poet Ved Pal Deep.
The poetess is attracted to the young and handsome poet who is also one of the most eligible bachelors in the Dograland. A love affair ensues between the birds of the literary kind. Shortly afterwards, this handsome communist, editor and poet marries the young poetess.
Even before the celebrations really got over, the poetess is afflicted with the dreaded tuberculosis and shunted to a sanatorium in the valley of Kashmir.
Shortly after her return to normalcy of health, friction develops between the couple, and the lady seeks a divorce soon thereafter. This enthusiastic love story eventually turned tragic, too soon.
Their short lived marriage (it lasted less than eight years ) and resultant divorce gave the close knit society of the Dogras fodder to chew on for years.
This is how the second love story of the renowned Dogri poet ended in tragic dimensions.
Padma claimed neglect and blamed alcoholism of Deep for the divorce. Deep found Padma too ambitious. In moments of emotional turmoil, Deep once confided in me that he could not subscribe to adopting rather undesirable moves to achieve name, fame and stardom in a short span of time. After divorce, VPD felt cheated in marriage and blamed Padma for leaving him uncared for.
Real reasons for their divorce are unknown because diametrically opposite versions are available in the public domain. Many think alcoholism of Deep as the main reason for their separation.
Within two years of seeking divorce, the poetess married again. The poet felt abandoned, forlorn and dejected. He never married again, nor could he ever love another girl.
This tragic hero of Dogri poetry never forgot his love for Padma till the last day of his life. He immersed himself in alcohol. Whenever he emerged from the sea of sadness and alcohol, he penned some of the most endearing ghazals ever written in Dogri language.
VPD loved two things dearly : beauty of the fair sex and the liquor. His loves for the opposite sex were mostly infatuations, which were rather short lived and flitted from one female to the other.
He attained popularity in poetry as a collegian. After graduation, he became a part of the popular trident of Dogri poetry along with fellow collegemates Kehri Singh Madhukar and Yash Sharma.
This threesome of poetry entertained the Dogras to no ends. They would often travel together to different parts of the Dograland and spread the fragrance of their mother tongue reciting their poems to appreciative gatherings.
Life carried on in a clumsy way for VPD. He was short of finances, suffered emotional breakdowns, could not take up a permanent job, and lived the life of a forlorn bohemian.
Old college friend Ved Bhasin tried to rescue VPD. He appointed Deep on the staff of his daily newspaper The Kashmir Time ( KT). This gave him stability, work and social respectability.
Now, Deep had an honourable position as a journalist, a decent office to sit in and a regular salary to take care of his personal expenses. A large chunk of the emoluments he would, of course, burn to buy liquor, his daily dose of elixir.
Ved Bhasin indulged Ved Pal Deep. He always treated him with the love and informality we reserve for our college mates. He never treated VPD as an employee. Putting him on roster of employees was one way of helping him financially and socially.
Mercifully, now VPD did not have to beg for money to buy liquor. Now, he could afford to drink with honour, so to say.
In continuation of my association with the KT since 1968, I used to write about the international cinema covering various film festivals whenever I could manage to get leave from my Air Force duties.
Deep used to call me the roving ambassador of the Kashmir Times. He was very fond of my writings.
” You write so well. I admire your writing skills, Anil”, this large hearted elder, more than two decades my senior, would often compliment me.
Who else, but the ace Dogri poet Ved Pal Deep, could be more liberal with his words : What flow of the language you create, my dear Anil Sehgal ! You play with the words with enviable dexterity !
Deep, a postgraduate in Hindi literature, started writing Cultural Notes, a regular column, for the KT, which was very popular with the readers. Life seemed to be livable, but, sadly, he missed having a family.
” Deep Uncle had only two places in the world to go to whenever he missed having a family and felt lonely. One was Kashmir Times office and the other was our home”, recalls Dogri writer Kunwar Shakti Singh, son of Dogri poet Padam Dev Singh Nirdosh, an admirer and self appointed disciple of VPD.
Whenever VPD had a spat with his friend Ved Bhasin, he will take shelter in the home of his admirer and friend, poet Nirdosh. Here he found the care and love from the family of Nirdosh.
Likewise, he would return to Kashmir Times office after recharging his emotional space and when he got fed up with his self elected break from work.
” Deep Uncle was childlike, innocent and emotional. He needed love and care of a life partner, and protection of a family, which he never got. Only two persons had time for Deep Uncle during his last years : Ved Bhasin and my father Nirdosh “, articulates young poet Shakti Singh.
VPD was emotionally attached to Padam Dev Singh whom he treated as a younger brother. Both were in love with the bottle.
” My father expired on 7 September 1994. Deep Uncle was terribly shaken and went into complete silence. When prodded, he wept bitterly and inconsolably. He said : Nirdosh is gone. Now, I too will not last long “, says the son of Padam Dev Singh Nirdosh.
Within the next five months, on 3 February 1995, VPD bid farewell to the world, where he failed to get love, care, or affection.
It may not be an exaggeration to say, and some of you might agree with me that, in the last five decades, some of the most nondescript literary persons have been decorated with Sahitya Akademi Award in Dogri language, whereas a towering poet like Ved Pal Deep has been ignored and side-lined.
This cherished Dogri poet is popularly called Ghalib of Dogri Ghazals, but to date he remains largely unsung and terribly undecorated.
In the words of famed Dogri poet Yash Sharma, a college mate and close associate, poetry of Ved Pal Deep embodies the combined merits of poets like Shelley, Ghalib, Meera, Pant, Bachchan, and Nirala :
Phullen saanhi komal haa,
Parbat saanhi jigra haa
Ghalib da shaidaaii haa
Meeraan da matwala haa
O Duggar da Shelley haa
Bachchan, Pant Nirala haa
Ohde baare keh aakhaan
Oh sabbne sha aala haa
( Fragile like the flowers,
He was large hearted like a mountain.
Enamored by Ghalib,
He was intoxicated with Meera.
He was a Shelley, a Pant,
And a Nirala to the Duggars.
What shall I say of him ?
He was the best of all ! )