ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The Most Terrible Is the Death of Dreams

Satnam (1952-2016)

A tribute to "Satnam," a dreamer living under many identities--an underground communist, an employees' leader, a leader of migrant workers in Ludhiana, a democratic rights activist, a political commentator, a fine translator, a poet, a writer--with a dream to make this world more beautiful.

“If you do not dream, you are dead,” he said to me that beautiful monsoon night six years ago. Perhaps this grey-haired man was one of the few who have not let their dreams die. But men do die. Activist and author of the famous travelogue Jangalnama: Travels in a Maoist Guerrilla Zone (2010; first published in 2004 in Punjabi), ended his life on 28 April 2016. He was 64. And, in his death, Punjab has lost a lot. Not many knew him as “Satnam” till 2004. This was the year his celebrated work Jangalnama reached Punjabi readers.

But, before that, for four and a half decades, he had lived under many identities. As an underground communist, an employees’ leader, a leader of migrant workers in Ludhiana, a democratic rights activist, a political commentator (who would write an unconventional obituary of Yasser Arafat), a fine translator who gave Karl Marx’s Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844 and Howard Fast’s Spartacus to Punjabi readers, a poet, a writer who wrote under different pseudonyms, and so on. In each identity, he had one dream: to make this world more beautiful.

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