The Holy People
After migrating from Pakistan side, we were accommodated in a Destitute Home at Sangrur. Here only those women were given shelter who had lost their husbands during the partition of 1947 and their sons up to the age of 16 were also allowed to stay in that Destitute Home. The children were given free education and the state was providing them with books and other stationery items. I was also one of those children who was accommodated in that Destitute Home.
Since I was off about 14 years and had left the study at 4th class in 1947, the destitute authorities were of the view that instead of joining the study in 4th or in 5th class, I should learn a trade. So I was advised to learn the trade of Carpenter and that too at Works Centre, Patiala. I along with some other boys were sent to Patiala. I completed six months course at this center and came back with a certificate. The Destitute home authorities helped me and I could get an apprenticeship with a carpenter Sardar Ajit Singh. Ajit Singh was very kind to me and started teaching me the art of carpentry. He also taught me the way I should deal with customers. In addition to shop work, he had been debuting me to houses for carrying out repair work.
One day I was sent to undertake some repair work at a house situated near to Sunami Gate, Sangrur. I started work and at times I was utilizing measuring tape too. A girl of my age was noticing all this and all of sudden she laughed. I was surprised and asked,”
“What is the thing on which you have laughed?”
“Just on seeing that you are also using measuring tape. I think you are totally illiterate.”
“No Madam. I am not illiterate. I was in the fourth class when we left Pakistan in 1947. I could read Hindi and Punjabi.
I can read and write Hindi and Punjabi too. “She kept silence for some time and then she started writing something on a sheet of paper. She came up to me and said, Would you solve the sum?”
I read the sum. Length and Breath of room had been given and she wanted to know its area and also the number of prescribed size bricks to be laid down and also the cost of such flooring. I took up the sheet of paper and set aside. In minutes I solve that sum. She checked the solved sum and without talking to me she started laughing and jumping. She went to her mother and was telling her that this boy could solve such a difficult sum. Her mother also checked the solved sum and when it was found correct, she also accompanied her daughter and both came to the place where I was repairing some article.
“You say you were in fourth class in 1947. Now it is 1952. You are still remembering mathematics.”
“Yes, Madam. In Pakistan, we were having Mathematics book of Barkat Ram and that was being taught to us in fourth class too.
I had been solving such sums in fourth class.”
Then she started asking me more and more about my previous background. More and more I was telling, both of them were weeping. I was also weeping. Somehow I finished the work and got payment and also a big amount of a prize. When I was leaving that house, the mother of that girl said,
“My son, you should continue study. You are not meant for this carpentry work. If you need some help, I can afford such help to you”. She noted my address and promised that she will be coming to the Destitute Home and will be talking to my mother.
I was a changed man. I was coming back full of hopes and inspirations. The sympathetic looks of mother and daughter were haunting me. When I was nearing Sunami Gate, I started reading a notice board. It was Lajpat Rai High School and this notice board was indicating that admission to all classes was on. A boy from the school noticed me and came to me. He asked, “Do you want admission?”
Without any hesitation and without having any introspection, I replied,
“Yes, Sir. I want admission.”
The boy ran into the school. When he left me, I could recall my position. I was wearing an old shirt and an old short. I was wearing a chappal made of rotten tires and tubes. My head was without a turban. And I was carrying a bag full of carpentry instruments. I was fearing that a batch of students shall be coming out and all shall make a fool of me. I wanted to run away.
But before I could decide the future course of action finally, the boy was coming back with an old man and some students. The old man came to me and placing his right hand on my shoulder and asked,
“Do you want admission in this school?”
“Yes, Sir. I want admission.”
Then without putting any further questions, he held my hand and took me to the room of the Headmaster. The headmaster asked the old man to conduct a preliminary examination and admit me in the class for which I was suitable.
Then all took me to the teachers’ room. All sat there and they started to listen all about me. I had declared that I should be admitted in the seventh class. When I completed the whole story up to date, I was admitted in the seventh class and from that date, Master Khushi Ram ji started tuition work on me. And it is on record that I stood first in the annual examination in 1953. While pronouncing result before the whole school, Master Khushi Ramji announced that I could pass matriculation examination, if such an opportunity is given to me. And it is on record that I actually passed matriculation examination that too in the first division next year.
Now as and when I pass through Sangrur(Punjab- India), I still remember Master Khushi Ramji. I also remember that old lady and her daughter who instigated me to start my study once again.