Pash, my father: Winkle Sandhu remembers the revolutionary Punjabi poet / Sonia Mann’s emotional letter to her father Baldev Singh Mann

First posted September 06, 2020

Born on September 9, 1950 at village Talwandi Salem in Jalandhar, Avtar Singh Sandhu wrote under the pen name of Pash. Inspired by the Naxalite movement, he was known for his poetry of resistance. The four volumes of his poetry – ‘Loh Katha’, ‘Udadiyan Bazan Magar’, ‘Saddey Sameyaan Vich’ and ‘Khilre Hoye Warke’ – have been translated into several languages. He was gunned down by militants on March 23, 1988. He was 38. Our journey together was horrifically and abruptly cut short. On Wednesday, March 23, 1988, a group of Khalistanis assassinated my father. But, they were never able to touch the most crucial parts of Pash’s being: his beliefs, ideology and spirit.

Thirty-two years hence, my father lives on and inspires people’s hearts, ignites discussions, makes it to university syllabuses and is often the theme of research scholars’ PhDs. Even today, his poetry changes lives of the youth and inspires young men and women to follow in his footsteps. It goes without saying, I am proud to be the daughter of this revolutionary, powerful, influential, progressive and daring poet.

I was born in a small village of Talwandi Salem (Jalandhar) in January 1981. Those were times when people would shed tears at a daughter’s birth. But here was my father — celebrating my coming into this world, distributing sweets to everyone in our village and playing loud music on the speaker! Many were perplexed at his happiness, but only he understood the beauty, sincerity and value of a daughter’s birth and what she brings to a family.

I was seven when tragedy struck. A first-grader, I didn’t realise what a loss it was for Punjab. I just knew I would never be able to run into my father’s arms again, or hear his voice, share milestones together, or be able to be loved by him. Slowly, the memories faded….

Baldev Singh Mann: ‘My darling daughter!’

Sonia Mann pens emotional letter to her father Baldev Mann killed by Khalistani militants

After three decades, a book has been authored by Harbhagwan Singh who has dedicated his book to Baldev Singh Mann. The title of the book is ‘Gatha Ik Soorme Di’. Overwhelmed Sonia on this super special occasion said, 

“Dear daddy, you are my pilot, and my hero. What an honor it is to be your daughter. Your service and sacrifice will never be forgotten, nor your bravery or courage. If heaven wasn’t so far away, I would have often packed my things and come to visit you. You have and will always serve as the person that lightens up my passion. I hope to make you proud and continue to achieve the dreams you had for me, like you mentioned in the letter. My heart still aches in sadness, my silent tears never cease because no one will ever know the emptiness in my life after losing you. We will never be apart, till my final breath, you’ll always live in my heart. Daddy, thinking of you today and always! I love you forever.”..