" What Shankar Knows is worth knowing and what Shankar does not know is not worth knowing "
These were the lines written by Tyndale Biscoe , a great educationist and first Principal of CMS Mission School Srinagar in his Book 'Sunlight and Shade' This reflects the depth of Knowledge and illustrious personality of a great teacher of his times and the son of soil Pt.Shankar kaul.
Pt. Shankar Kaul was born in year 1879 near Batyar Mohalla of Aali kadal Srinagar. After completing his early education in State High School, he got admission in CMS Mission School Fateh Kadal, where his personality began to develop under the worthy guidance of Mr. Tyndale Biscoe, Principal of the School.
Shankar Kaul proved to be a brilliant student , good swimmer and a magnificent hiker. After completing his education i.e. BA. and B.T from Lahore university Shankar Kaul joined as Teacher in the same school and became famous due to his ability and knowledge .He remained attached with the school for fifty three years and rose to the position of Head Master. Pt. Sansar Chand Koul, Nandlal Bakaya, N.N. Fotedar , Shiv ji Koul and Master Zinda Koul were great teachers and his contemporaries. While teaching at the school , he also became instructor of swimming, hiking and Gymnastics. Being a devout Hindu, he was also having full knowledge of Christianity and Islam. He used to quote the sayings of every religion while proving his point or delivering lectures. He was a very good orator and his early morning lecture to gathering of students had a deep impact and a magical effect on the audience . He was also very much Intrested in social service. He along with a group of students voluntarily visited the areas effected by epidemics , fires or floods to help the people. He also raised his voice against the exploitation of animals.
He initiated an agitation against child marriage , which was very common those days . He also met Mahraja Hari Singh and persuaded him to pass the bill for Widow remarriage . Hindu widows of Kashmir got the right of remarriage in year 1928. Mr. Biscoe has well appreciated the efforts of Master ji ,in this regard, in his book Sunlight and shade . .
Being a man of diverse qualities, Master Shankar Pandit was appointed as Commissioner of city Municipality by Mahraja Hari Singh. Master ji took much Intrest in the cleanliness drive of Srinagar city . The Govt. used to consult him regarding social service schemes to be initiated by them.
Despite of being a teacher in Christan Missionary School , he was a devout Hindu and very much interested in his own religion. During leisure time,he remained busy in his spiritual pursuits and had attained greater heights in the field. He always helped poor and needy and laid much stress on the purpose of life. He used to say , to get destroyed for a purpose is better than living a purpose less life. He was a great Karmyogi pandit. He was having spiritual liaison with Bhagwan Gopi Nath ji, a great saint of Kashmir .
I would like here to quote an incident from the life of Master ji which justify his spiritual attainment.
Master ji used to visit Hari Parbat daily early in the morning to pay his obeisance at the feet of Mata Sharika ji. Once he had to stop his daily schedule because of fracture in his leg due to some accident. One day he looked in desperation towards Hari Parbat from the window of his house located on the banks of Jehlum and murmured ," Mata I am not able to visit you presently but you have also forgotten me ; can't you send me your prasad even?"
At the same movement an unknown person named Bhagat ji who was at Hari Parbat got a vision of Mata , who ordered him to take some prasad from here and deliver it to Master Shankar pandit of Ali Kadal.
Bhagat ji took some Prasad and entered the house of Master ji much hesitantly and sat just near the entrance. He could not venture to handover Prasad to Master ji. He thought Master ji will make fun of him if he revealed truth to him. But Master ji affectionately called him in and asked for the Prasad , which Bhagat ji most readily offered . Thereafter, Bhagat ji became a great desciple of Master ji.
He distributed knowledge to all the student and believed in Nishkaam Karma through out his life. Pandit Shankar Kaul left this mortal world in year 1963 .
Monday, 11 September 2017
" What Shankar Knows is worth knowing and what Shankar does not know is not worth knowing "
Friday, 18 August 2017
Pooja was just seventeen when she completed her School education and stopped studying further as there was no college in her village . She was the only child of her father, who was a rich Landlord of the village and her mother a seasoned housewife. Therefore, Pooja was a pampered child of family and brought up with much fanfare. But Pooja was very innocent by nature and totally ignorant about the facts of life as compared to other girls of her age. Now Pooja had left school, radiant, bursting with life , thirsting for happiness , ready for all the joys and all the risks which she had already anticipated in imagination. She looked like portrait of Godess , with her dark hair and fair complexion. Her eyes were blue with a dark mole on her chin. She was tall with a developed bust.
Once sitting near the window of her bed room she began to dream of love. For sometime her thoughts have been filling up with anxious anticipations of its advent. She had only to meet him . What would he be like? She did not really know . She only knew that she would worship him with all her heart and soul. They would go on long walks , they would hold hands , pressing close to each other , hearing their heartbeats suddenly she seemed to feel him close by her side and a shiver of sensual longing ran over her whole body.
After some time village priest brought the proposal of a boy namely Ashok who was a graduate and living in a near by village. But the parents of Ashok had already expired . Pooja's father asked the priest to bring the boy someday to their house so that they know each other better. Ashok was a very smart boy of average height with a very good sense of humour. Every body in the house began to like him gradually as he started to visit their house.
One day Ashok proposed Puja when her parents were not at home. Ashok seizing the hand of Pooja whispered to her, " tell me Pooja dear, will you be my wife?" She bent her head and when he again whispered , " Do give me an answer, I love you". She raised her eyes gently to his and he read her answer in her glance.
She was blushing ,panting and strangulated with emotion when her father one day added with a smile , " we can not do anything without discussing it with you. Your mother and I have no objection with this marriage , but we do not wish to put any pressure on you. You are much better off than he is, but when it is a question of lifelong happiness , the consideration of money ought not to come in . He has no near relative living , so if you do marry him , he will come into our family as a son , whereas with someone else it will be a case of our daughter going among strangers. We like the boy .We seek your opinion. Pooja stammered in affirmation and marriage was fixed.
On the night of marriage Ashok pressed the ears of Pooja with his lips, saying ," Today you will be my little wife". Although she had learnt the facts of life from her school friends, she still only thought of the romantic aspect of love and was surprised .His wife? Was not that she already ?" Then he clasped her in arms and she surrendered because she remembered the words of her mother that from now on you are all his. Finally with some inquisitiveness some pain and some excitement marriage was consummated.
Excitement of marriage lasted for some months when Pooja noticed some indifference in the attitude of Ashok towards her. Ashok had taken full charge of the farms of his father in law. Pooja first thought it is because of work load of Ashok that he can not afford to give her much time. But soon it transpired that Ashok had developed illicit relations with some farm girl , who had become pregnant by now. This ill action of Ashok gave a shock to the whole family in general and particularly to Pooja. She wanted to severe all relations with Ashok. But father of Pooja, who was a seasoned landlord and a business man , gave serious thought to the problem and paid considerable amount of money to father of farm girl and advised him to arrange the marriage of his daughter , which he did later on.
But it was difficult for Pooja to compromise with the situation. She dared not face the people she met, convinced that they would whisper behind her back. She felt a grudge against Ashok in her heart for not understanding her and having no refined modesty and delicacy. She felt as if it were a veil , a barrier between herself and him, realising for the first time that two people can never understand each other's deepest feelings and thoughts. They may walk side by side and sometimes embrace , but they remain apart and moral being of each one is eternally isolated all through life. Pooja could realise that facts of life are not always sweet but sometimes bitter also.
Tuesday, 8 August 2017
Anita was living along with her two kids Anshoo and Amit at Jammu. Her husband Major Anil was in Kashmir on frontier duty somewhere near Kupwara . It was monsoon season in Jammu and raining heavily through out that night . Anita after rising from bed and finishing her daily early chores went over to the window, but the rain showed no sign of stopping . The downpour had rattled all night against the panes and the roof . The lowering sky , full of water ,seemed to have burst , drenching the earth and reducing it to a muddy paste like melted sugar . Furious gusts of wind were blowing , laden with stuffy heat , and the roar of flooded gutters filled the empty streets , where the houses like sponges sucked up the damp , which found its way inside and made the walls sweat from cellar to attic.
Anita was very happy today as her husband Anil was coming soon to home for a long leave as she was now ready to grasp all the joys of life of which she had long dreamt. She wanted to visit Malls , shopping complexes and cinemas along with Anil and children. She was only anxious about the weather so that it may hinder the home coming of Anil. She wanted the weather cleared and for many times she scanned the horizon anxiously that morning . Suddenly she noticed that she had forgotten to awoke her children from bed as their school time was approaching fast .No sooner children arose from bed , she promptly prepared them and went to kitchen for preparing their breakfast. After serving them breakfast, she accompanied the children to nearby street to board them in the school bus . The downpour continued and Anita took the children under umbrella towards main Street. The howling wind drove the rattling rain against the umbrella and flooded the roadway making pools and puddles of muddy rain water. Soon the children boarded the school bus and the Bus drove on splashing muddy water of the pools through its wheels. While returning to home Anita could observe the violence of storm abating gradually . Soon it was only a kind of drizzle , a fine mist of flying raindrops. The cloud ceiling began to rise and clear , and suddenly through an invisible opening a long slanting gleam of sunlight shone down. Now on reaching home she was happy to see a blue and clear expanse of sky spread over the whole earth . A gentle fresh breeze passed like a sigh of relief from the window. But it is often said that there is a lull before a greater storm. Soon the telephone bell rang and Anita was informed by an unknown Voice from the unit of her husband that Anil was martyred last night while fighting with the terrorists. Anita could not beleive the words . The whole world appeared topsy turvey before her eyes. She could not bear the gravity of message and collapsed in comma on the floor near by dropping the receiver unawares.
When she recovered from comma, she could see her apartment filled with unknown people . The dead body of Anil had also arrived in tricolour with full military honours. Anil had shown much valour while fighting the intruders and killed three of them single handedly. All the five Pakistani intruders had been neutralised against the death of one Indian Major Anil, who had proved himself to be a real warrior. The name of Major Anil had also been recommended for Kiriti chakra award .
But Anita appeared indifferent to all this , even she was not attending to her wailing children sitting besides her. She had turned into a stone. Her sunken and vacant eyes were dry. She was like a corpse. Every body was worried about her mental state and wanted she should cry.
At last after much persuasion of the womenfolk around her she cried while embracing her children. It was with a wild shreik , tears began to flow from her eyes. She wept bitterly shedding torrents of tears. She wailed bitterly. All the woman and even menfolk around there could not hold tears. The storm in the life of a person is sometimes much more stronger than the storm of nature . But the people around heaved a sigh of relief on shedding of tears by the Anita , because this sudden shock could have affected her balance of mind.
Saturday, 15 July 2017
I have been often misunderstood for being an atheist because of my rational outlook on matters of religion and for my habit of pleading against superstitions. As per my convictions there is possibly no relation between rationality and atheism. I would hereby like to narrate an incident of my life ,which happened a very long ago, when I was a young man and had recently joined my first job in Meteorological Deptt. I along with my brother and his family decided to go on Amar nath yatra . The seats were booked in a chartered Bus which was going directly to Baltal en-route Sona Marg. Actually Bus was arranged by a group of Punjabi business men for their families and we could manage few seats in it. The main purpose of booking our seats in this Bus was that it could wait for us at Baltal and bring us back next day to Srinagar immediately, once all of us assembled in the bus.
We boarded the bus at Srinagar around 2 P.M. and reached Baltal at 7 P.M. As we arranged for a small hut for night halt and slept in there after taking some light dinner ,which we had brought from Srinagar
Next day before dawn we arose from our beds and quietly started our journey towards Amarnath shrine. It was really wonderful experience to ascend high mountain peaks and cross the slippery glaciers of ice, where we had to walk on man made paths enough to hold single foot of a person at a time and beyond which were slippery deep ravines and slopes of glaciers. A wrong step of a person could cost his life and it would have been impossible to locate for the dead bodies even because the slopes of mountains were thousands of feet deep and fully laden with ice of glaciers.
There were really thrilling and heart wrenching experiences which prompted us to go ahead carrying our fatigued bodies and numb nerves. I can not still forget the taste of lemon shake which we made with ice water. It was really like a life elixir which refreshed our bodies to the hilt. It was only after crossing mountain peaks, glaciers, ravines , slopes and canyons for hours together, we could locate the great Amarnath cave welcoming us with its Majestic grandeur . While reaching near the holy cave , I could not control my nerves on witnessing the enchanting atmosphere around. It was really a new experience. The place appeared untrodden by human species , animals or birds. The ice cold water of river Amravati flowing fast and making a white foam like substance over it. The White snow mountain peaks, white clouds hovering over the sky and white stones all around added to the grandeur of the place. The scene was mesmerising , bewitching and beyond any description by human words . The spectacle of nature was at its peak mingling slowly with the divinity in conspicous mode. No body could afford to be an atheist in such a serene atmosphere and among the chanting of Shiva shankara echoing around . A dip in ice cold water of Amravati was enough to refresh the body and soul of any pilgrim .
After paying our obeisance at the captivating piligrimage and taking some food , we started our return journey. Our return journey was not so tiresome but it was risky as we had mostly to descend slopes . But heavy rains made our return journey more risky as it made our paths very slippery . Anyhow we reached our base camp Baltal drenched and shivering with cold rain water despite of our rain coats and umbrellas.
After reaching Baltal we boarded the bus waiting for us. When all the passengers assembled ,driver drove the Bus with out any hassle. But only after driving few kms., Driver abruptly stopped the bus near a slope and left it along with conductor with a promise to return soon. We were waiting in the bus for Driver to return for an hour, but he did not turn up. Some pilgrims guessed that he might have gone for dinner in a near by village. All the yatris were drenched with cold rain water and were weary to the hilt. Most of us were dozing and waiting anxiously for driver to return.
In the mean time a boy sitting somewhere in back seat stood up abruptly and started chanting 'Jai Mata di' and all the yatris responded him loudly in the same manner. The yatris thought that he was possessed by 'Mata' and no body dared to stop him when he hurled abuses on Driver and seated himself on Drivers seat and tried to start vehicle. He declared something unrighteous has happened during the pilgrimage and Mata wanted to punish all. Few yatris alighted out of the bus to save themselves but most of yatris remained in the bus with closed eyes chanting Jai Mata di. I was also one among the yatris who came out of bus . We looked at each other in much bewilderment and mustered enough courage to take hold of the boy sitting on drivers seat and pulled him out of the bus after thrashing him a little. He rolled his body on the road and started weeping . He admitted that he was hungry and tired so much that he lost his balance of mind. Then some food was provided to him and he was again bundled in to the bus. In the meantime Driver appeared with much apologetic disposition and drove away the bus. We reached Srinagar at mid of night.
Later on it transpired that the small Boy in question was a domestic help of some family travelling in the Bus , who was neglected and not given any food to eat through out the journey .
Tuesday, 23 May 2017
Anita after completing all the household chores and preparing herself in her formal dress was ready to leave for office. She was however, depressed to see her husband Arvind still in undergarments near verandah cleaning and oiling his old scooter , which she despised so much. Many times she had told him to dispose off his old scooter and purchase a new car which would have eased their life so much. But today she did not utter a word as she was not in talking terms with her husband for the last few days. Actually she was married to Arvind for the last twenty years after courting him for two and half years. The scooter was purchased by Arvind within the first year of their marriage. Therefore , it was witness to all the randevous and romance in their life which existed between the two for several years. But with the passage of time vagaries of life and circumstances had stolen all the charm and romance of the relation. They were living like strangers under the same roof with the common Intrest in their only son , who was studying at Pune. The cracks in the relation began to appear when they became so critical of each other and reached to culmination after their being indifferent to themselves.
After reaching his office Anita was shocked to learn that it was a public holiday thatday. Now she could guess that why her husband was leisurely looking after his scooter. She was furious with anger towards her Husband who did not confide her about the holiday. She decided to visit a cinema instead of going to her home so early. As she reached near cinema hall, she witnessed a huge rush as it happened to be a very first day of some popular cinema being displayed there. In the meantime she saw her Boss in his long chauffer driven car along with his wife. She was astonished to see the beauty of his wife. She was looking like a model of some advertising agency selling woman accessories . As her Boss alighted from his car , she greeted him with folded hands. He requested her to purchase two tickets from woman's queue as his wife was not used to stand in queues. Anita proceeded towards ticket windows to obey the instructions of her boss with out a question. She was jostled and muffled in the huge crowd. She could reminsce her earlier visits to the cinema hall with her husband , who would give cover to her in his strong arms and take her out smoothly in such huge crowd. He would never have let her perish like this. She only purchased two tickets with much difficulty and handed over the same to her boss and left the cinema hall on some pretext. Now Anita wanted to reach her home immediately.
After reaching her home she scolded her husband gently,
" you did not stop me when I left for office as I was not aware of Holiday."
" Oh! I thought you are aware of it and you are going to cinema with your colleague or Boss". retorted back her husband.
" Have I ever visited to cinema or Mall with out you", said Anita displaying affection in her eyes.
"You are absolutely right, dear", "when you left I was very angry. Then I felt guilty and also your absence very much. I thought that I am overlooking your contribution to the family. You have been working relentlessly towards the welfare of family in all fronts including domestic as well as financial. Please forgive me for my ego which stopped me from recognising your contribution and offending you for a quite a long time".
A stream of tears overflowed from the eyes of Anita voluntarily while stopping her husband from touching her knees. Arvind also promised Anita that tomarrow he will apply for a car loan which added a gleam in the eyes of later.
Wednesday, 5 April 2017
My maternal Grandfather Pt. Sham Lal Kak was born at the end of nineteenth century and year was eighteen hundred ninety two in a joint family at Habba kadal Srinagar. He was the eldest child of his parents having three other siblings comprising of two brothers and a sister. He was a brilliant student of Mission school , Fateh Kadal , the motto of which was 'In all things be men'. He was good in studies as well as other extra curricular activities of school like boating, swimming and hiking etc. But unfortunately he was married at very young age, when he was only a student of 6th class as early marriage of children was most common in Kashmiri Pandit families those days. In order to discourage child marriage Mr Tyndale Biscoe , Principal of Mission school had levied extra fee for those students who were married earlier. Therefore, my Grandfather had also to bear the brunt and to remit the extra fee. But such schools helped in changing the outlook of young students coming mostly from much orthodax families of Kashmir who could shun to play volleyball with their naked hands as it was made of leather. They mostly covered their hands by lifting the long sleeves of their' firan' and then only touch the leather ball. It was due to some progressive ideas inculcated in the young mind at school level and brilliant scholarship somewhere inherent in his genes that my Grandfather completed Graduation with top grades, which was a rare achievement those days. In the the meantime his father died and he was left with no other alternative but to look out for a job to support his large family. He first joined state excise Deptt. and later on Accountant Generals office. His wife Rajrani belonged to Natipora area, who was very sagacious lady and gave birth to three sons and one daughter. My Grandfather was interested in reading world class literature particularly English , American and Russian right from his early youth. He was also interested in Art and drama. Chekhov and Pushkin were his favourite playwrights . Theatre was his dream. He wanted to start Drama theatre in Kashmir, when it was still in inception level at big cities like Delhi, Calcutta and Baroda. Only village level theatre like Band pather in Kashmir was known. He was influenced by the Modern Indian theatre , the pioneer of which was Rabindra Nath Tagore, who himself wrote plays in Bengali noted for their exploration and questioning of nationalism , identity, spiritualism and material greed . His plays included Chitragada 1892, The King of Dark Chamber Raja 1910 , The Post office Dhakghar 1913 and Red oleander Raktakabri 1924. My Grand father wanted to bring modern theatre to Kashmir also. But it was an uphill task and required a huge financial investment. He along with his close friends contributed few thousand rupees towards the venture. Thousand rupees was a huge amount those days. He had to apply for withdrawing his Provident fund to arrange his contribution. His father in law, a patwari of Natipora advised him to invest the amount in question in purchasing land at Natipora which will make him a big landlord of Natipora. But his passion for theatre was much beyond the materialistic gains as he was influenced by the revolutionary ideas and artistic flavour.
They rented a big hall along with few rooms in the periphery of Srinagar city, The drama artists were called from Delhi and Calcutta on salary basis and the great venture was started. Many dramas were played on the stage including 'Bilwa Mangal' Raja Harish Chandra etc. on ticket basis. Late Sh. Jagar Nath Saqi , who became a veteran artist of Radio Kashmir later on, was just working as apprentice there. The venture was successful for sometime but proved to be a great financial disaster later on. The reasons thereof were that audaince was ignorant about modern theatre and poverty viz a viz hand to mouth living was rampant throughout . Drama and theatre was considered luxury and few condemned it for immorality . The founders of this venture had perhaps overlooked these factors. The venture started incurring losses and how far the promotors could sustain losses. The venture was closed and promoters incurred huge losses. These happenings made my grand father much desperate and distraught. It was only after few years after this incident , he died very young at the age of thirty nine only in year nineteen thirty two.
To those who tried failed and died, I give my great honour , glory and tears.
Sunday, 26 March 2017
My father while serving as a country Doctor had various experiences in remote areas of Kashmir and that too a very long ago when specialisation in the field was unknown in city Hospitals also. Doctor with whatever little knowledge had to be ready to deal with any exigency which ever may arise in the area. Those days pathological and diagnostic tests were not available and even if available in a rudimentary form and were sparsely in vouge even in city Hospitals . The disease had to be diagnosed on its symptoms only . The Doctor had to rack his brains and use his intelligence in order to track the disease . This exercise however used to sharpen the faculties of Doctor towards better diagnosis. The only silver lining in this occupation was that it was purely professional and was not commercial like these days. The Doctor would get satisfaction from his profession by correct diagnosis and treatment of the patient rather than deriving pecuniary benefits out of it. Moreover, Doctor had to be all-rounder those days. He had to be a physician, surgeon, Gynocologist, child specialist and bone specialist all in one as he had to deal any type of patient any time.
Once a gujjar woman bleeding profusely from her head was brought in to the Hospital by few persons. When my father with the help of his attendant looked into the wound, the case appeared prima facie hopeless. The sclap and skull bone were broken into two pieces and brain was protruding out of it . The two hair plaits of woman had spread apart making a way for internal mass . It later on transpired that woman in question had gone for collecting fuel wood from Jungle and some male gujjar had caught hold of her to satisfy his biological need. The woman had managed to frisk away from his grip and ran away. But the Gujjar had chased her frantically and in a fit of rage hurled his axe on her sclap and left her wounded and bleeding. Then few good persons after hearing her frantic calls had brought her to hospital.
My father and whatever little staff available with him had no other option but to attend the exigency. They simply tried to stuff the portion of brain hanging outside back into her head after cutting some mass of flesh. Then they manually arranged to join the two pieces of her skull bone, which were spread apart. After few stitches on his sclap she was discharged as there was no indoor facility available in the Hospital. After few days she recovered to the surprise of one and all. Mostly villagers bitten by bears or leapords in the jungle were usual cases attended by my father in the Hospital. Whole of the village would assemble outside the Hospital gates , whenever there was such type of operation going on inside.
After duty hours at the Hospital , my father would attend patients who were bed ridden in far flung areas on horseback or Tonga as per schedule. This was also a part of the duty of my father as no other Doctor was available in the whole area. My father never charged anyone for extra services provided by him as the patients were mostly poor peasants living around. The medicine was also available to them free of cost from Govt. Hospital.
One day my father received a call to attend an emergency case in another village about 5 Kms away from the village where Hospital was located. In the mean time a person was stabbed by another in the abdomen and victim was brought to Hospital for treatment. As my father had already left for another village, assistant present in the Hospital attended to the patient and after stitching his wound discharged him. But patient died in the way while going to his home.
Then after apprehending the culprit by police a murder case was lodged against him in the District court. After many hearings which were attended by my father and his colleagues also, the judge gave decision in favour of culprit by giving benefit of doubt to him. The Judge opined that victim was treated at the Hospital by an attendant only as House Doctor was absent from duty. Had the victim been attended by a qualified Doctor, he might have survived and therefore culprit can not be punished for murder charges. The culprit was however, charged for attempt to murder only, which subsequently lessened the punishment of culprit substantially. Moreover, Doctor was held responsible for neglect of duty despite of his pleadings that he was liable to attend the patients of surrounding area also. Taking cognizance of the circumstances on account of exigency of service which kept my father out of Hospital at the material time and viewing the case leniently, increment of my father was stopped for two years only.
Sunday, 5 March 2017
The present story revolves round my memory lane reflecting back the early years of Nineteen sixty , when I was a little child and my father was transferred to small hemlet of Khrew , nineteen Kms away from Srinagar city as In- charge of allopathic dispensary. Actually my father was the first incumbent of Allopathic Dispensary which was earlier an Ayurvedic one. It was a beautiful village of springs and brooks spread all over the area. The small brooks flowed in the compounds and even through the ground floors of inhabitants. The water of springs was relatively warm in winter season as white cloud like vapours hovering over the streams were most conspicuous in cold climate . The nature had bestowed the village with all natural resources which were sufficient to live a luxurious life for all living beings around but man's greed had devised ways to divide it unequally so as to marginalise few. The Dispensary was located in a nice two storey building , the upper storey of which was Doctors residence ,where we lived. Adjacent to Dispensary compound there was a big chunk of land in the shape of farm along with a three storey house constructed beyond the other end of it belonging to one sh. Prakash Ram Karihaloo and on its opposite periphery, which was just besides hospital building, there was a kucha one room hutment surrounded by a small piece of land just enough for kitchen garden. The inhabitant of the hutment was Raghav Ram Karihaloo who was younger brother of Prakash Ram. Although both the brothers were having amazing similarity in their physical appearances but were miraculously apart as per their temperanment was concerned. Prakash Ram was introvert type of person and appeared to be most cunning while as Raghav Ram was extrovert and an honest person. Both the brothers were at daggers drawn , living in their seperate houses and no body had seen them talking or meeting ever. Prakash Ram had married once but his wife died much earlier with out delivering a baby while as Raghav Ram was a chronic bachelor. After the death of their parents Prakash Ram had taken no pains to marry or settle his younger sibling . Actually they had some dispute over the ancestral land, major chunk of which Prakash Ram had usurped while Raghav Ram was young boy and had confined the later to a small portion of it on the periphery. The land case was lying pending in the High court at Srinagar which would come up for hearing after a lapse of six months or a year and was always postponed for next dates.
Prakash Ram was like a selfish giant and never allowed anyone to trespass his fortress. He would watch from the window of top floor of his house and shriek like a wild cat whenever children tried to enter his orchard for fun. He would become mad and hurl all the lofty abuses on the children who even by chance happen to cross over his orchard. Once I entered his garden for plucking flowers. He sprang like a leopard from somewhere , caught hold of me and started beating me voilently. Luckily my father came out from Dispensary and gave him a bit of mind.
Raghav Ram on the other hand was a very social person. He used to visit us occasionally for a courtesy call. He played with us sometimes and used to take care of all the children living near by.
Once during our stay Prakash Ram fell seriously ill. There was no body to look after him. My father was the only Doctor available in the whole area. Therefore, he attended him and even advised his younger Brother Raghav Ram to look after him. Raghav Ram most meticulously followed the instructions of my father and helped his brother in the time of distress. Prakash Ram was pleased to see his brother Raghav Ram serving him day and night. One day he confided to Raghav Ram that he wanted to leave all this hatred and dispute and live a peaceful life henceforth , to which his younger brother most readily agreed. They even agreed to compromise mutually and abandon court case .
But only after Prakash Ram regained his health fully, he began to show his true colours and started behaving cunningly again. They started living in their seperate houses and left talking to each other once more.
In the mean time my father was transferred from the village and we left the place for good.
It was after a long time, when I was a little grown up , I had a chance to visit the same village again in connection with paying obiscance to Mata Jwala Devi, whose temple was located on a hillock thereat. It was a yearly Mela of Ashad chaturdashi. After paying my obiscance at Mata,s shrine, I thought of paying a visit to my old abode where I had spent few years of my childhood.
The hospital was shifted to some spacious building and some one had purchased it's old building . The hutment of Raghav Ram was in dilapidated condition and closed. I then ventured to peep through the orchard of Prakash Ram. There was hustle and bustle both in the building and orchard. The people from far off places who had visited the shrine were preparing meals and resting all over the place. I could also see Raghav Ram helping the visitors most sincerely.
It took Raghav Ram a long time to recognise me because I was grown up now. Replying to my enquiry regarding Prakash Ram he said, "Prakash Ram passed away few years back.
Actually when court decided the case in my favour, my brother felt very desperate and aghast and died the same night due to heart attack. Now being the lone surviving hear of whole property l am looking after it
After my death it will go to shrine board as per my registered will."
He further told me that men may come and men may go but properties remain to dispute the relations for ever. I feel very sorry for my brother who guarded this property throughout his life and never compromised to part with inch of it and left the whole within a wink of eye.
Tuesday, 17 January 2017
Kulbushan Kaul was my friend and class mate right from my childhood. While some among us in the class wanted to become Engineers and Doctors, his aim in life was to become a Businessman. A few among us were not even aware of what business meant those days. When we could understand that business meant doing something like selling goods and merchandise, we were surprised for his choice of profession. He was extraordinarily mischievous and trouble maker. He used to get thrashed by teachers on daily basis and still could not resist the temptation of doing some more mischief.
Once in our adolescent age, Kulbushan suggested us to witness a new movie show to which everyone agreed wholeheartedly . When we reached near cinema hall, all of us were astonished to see the rush at ticket counters . We all contributed the money towards purchasing of tickets and handed it over to Kulbushan as he was expert in getting the cinema tickets in such a huge rush. He started his modus operandi by taking off his clothes one by one. He gave us his coat, sweater , watch and other belongings and proceeded for the task, wearing minimum clothes, crawling below the legs of people who surrounded the ticket window forming a huge crowd . Then he suddenly disappeared from our gaze altogether and was lost in the crowd . It was really an uphill task but we were confident of his valour and optimistic about his art of getting the tickets. We were sure that after crawling below the legs of people for sometime, he will manage to pop his head exactly near the ticket window by holding the iron sill of window and get the tickets. Getting tickets of a newly displayed cinema and that too on holidays was not every body's cup of tea. It required a great art and technique. Sometimes Kulbushan adopted flying mode for getting tickets. He would rise on the wall adjacent to ticket window and while clinging to the wall he could manage to reach the upper side of window. Then he would come down after trampling the heads of front rowers with his feet and forcing his way in front of window by dispersing the crowd. It was worth seeing feat and daredevil task. The mode of his operation depended on the position of crowd near the window and architecture of cinema hall. We considered him our hero and envied his athletic feats.
Cinema was the only entertainment those days. VCR's DBD's and even existence of TV was a remote possibility and beyond the area of our perception. Advance booking was not in vouge. The young people visit cinema halls nowadays most comfortably by making advance booking through 'Make my show' apps. Those days it was difficult to watch a new movie with out struggle, least of which was standing in long queues for hours together. But watching a cinema after struggling for getting its ticket gave double pleasure later on.
After quarter of an hour crowd started to disperse near the window as tickets had finished. We all were eagerly looking for our friend Kulbushan to appear and that too with success. After sometime we could see Kulbushan proceeding towards us in a very distraught condition. We could hardly recognise him. His dishevelled hair , haggard look and sunken eyes were all telling a tale of agony and degradation he might have undergone to secure entertainment for us. We all were full of praises for his extraordinary display of valour and heroism. But all our enthusiasm vanished into the thin air as we noticed desperation writ large on his face while declaring of his mission unsuccessful . He also told us that he had lost all the cash in his possession in the process . It was just like adding salt to our injury . However, we controlled our emotions and handed over his belongings to him. Now the tickets were available in black only and that too at exorbitant rates . We had not enough cash to purchase cinema tickets in black and therefore, had to eat a humble pie. Finally Kulbushan took leave of us after arranging his dishevelled hair with his hands as he was going from different direction as confided
by him to us . We also left the cinema hall in great displeasure and dismay.
Next day after reaching School we came to know from one of our senior students that he had seen Kulbushan witnessing the same cinema show. We were surprised how he could manage to get his ticket. Later on it transpired that Kulbushan had not been unsuccessful in his mission. He had managed to get tickets from the window with our money, but the idea of duping us had cropped up in his mind while in action. After we left he sold all the tickets in black and kept one for himself. But he never felt embarrassed for his deeds ,as according to him , all was fair in Love and Business. We had never thought that Kulbushan will outsmart us like this. Therefore , we did not even ask him to repay our money back as we felt so desperate about his behaviour.
Most of us were not able to fulfill our ambitions. All of us could not become Doctors or Engineers. But Kulbushan was successful in achieving his aim in life.
Kulbushan after much struggle in life could make it possible to became a successful Businessman .'God helps those who help themselves only' was another famous maxim, the meaning of which was changed by him to his advantage by adding only to it.
His main aim in business was to maximise profits by hook or crook and he never cared about business ethics. Sometimes he would exploit the loopholes of Govt regulations regarding taxes etc. to his advantage and even compromised the quality of his product for his benefit.
But one incident in his life changed his outlook towards his business aptitude .
Once a foreigner who was posted in India entered his shop to purchase few costly carpets for his residence and asked Kulbushan to make some concessions as he was going to purchase from his shop on regular basis. Kulbushan in order to please the valuable customer said to him,
"Sir. I can help you one way. I may not be able to give you puuca receipt of your purchases so that I can save tax and pass on the benefit to you."
After listening the words of Kulbushan foreigner got furious and replied back to him,
"You appear to me a very dishonest man. You are deceiving your own Govt by not paying taxes , how can I believe that you will not deceive me on the quality of product . I don't want now to purchase any thing from you. After saying this, foreigner cancelled his order and left the shop.
This incident laid a deep impact on the mind of Kulbushan. He changed his outlook towards business. He stopped doing corrupt practices and maintained his books properly. This helped him to maintain his goodwill with customers and tax authorities. Moreover, Kulbushan could experience subtle feelings of sublimity in his life perhaps because of his clean conscience now.
Saturday, 7 January 2017
It was melancholic February of Nineteen Ninety at Srinagar. Terrorists were ruling the roost and anarchy was rampant everywhere in Kashmir. Militancy had pierced deep even in the cadres of administration . Any body could kill anyone on the street in broad day light and escape unharmed. Kashmiri Pandits were the main targets of militants for ethnic cleansing of the community from the province . The killings were going on account of punishing the informers who were sabotaging their movement. Actually innocents and particularly Kashmiri Pandits were being killed in the name of jihad. I was living in a Lane around Habbakadal Srinagar. Atmosphere was shivering cold and gloomy matching the environment and circumstances prevelent at that time.
Once I left home for office at quarter to nine and could notice some people running backwards with guns in the Lane, opening towards main Street leading to Habba kadal Bridge. I ventured to move ahead and noticed a body of middle aged man lying in a pool of blood on the main Street. All the people were running heltor skeltor and shutter of shops were being lowered by the shopkeepers in haste. I could notice vermilion pasted on the forehead of dead body and yes, I recognised the body . Oh! it was Shamboo nath. A cold shrill passed through whole of my spine and I could not help stopping the wild shriek coming out of my throat by holding my mouth shut . In the meantime police arrived and I returned towards my residence. After reaching home, I heaved a sigh of relief and disclosed the reason of my return to my wife, who was already tense due to noise she heard coming from our lane after I left.
This gruesome incident, which I had just witnessed started working upon my nerves and I felt most uncomfortable in the most cosy atmosphere of my bed room. The smiling face of Shamboo Nath was constantly haunting me and I was not able to tear off my attention from the most familiar disposition of the person, whom I had seen lying in the pool of blood recently. He always greeted me with a classical broad smile whenever he encountered me. His smile was really worth million dollars. The nature has created all individuals with distinctive features but some with unique characteristics which can not be ignored so easily.
First time I saw Shamboo Nath when my father brought him home to have lunch with us. He was a middle aged person of average stature clad in ' firan '
and wearing a dark coloured Gandhi cap as headgear.
He appeared to me a very simple person rather a simpleton with a charismatic smile which rarely escaped his radiant face. From that day onwards he started visiting our house once in a weak or fortnight to have lunch or breakfast with us. He always narrated to us amazing incidents of his life which justified his innocence and made us laugh for hours together . He became a source of entertainment for us. Later on it transpired that he was a bachelor and had worked as a domestic help to some family for decades and left them in his old age. Now he was living in a small room of a nearby temple provided to him by some acquaintance . In marriage season he had no problem regarding his daily food. He could manage to visit any marriage function, whether invited or uninvited and have his daily lunch and dinner there. Otherwise he visited the people living in neighbourhood for the purpose. But he visited every household with a smile and always prayed for their welfare and entertained them with his classical ancedots and made them laugh to the hilt. He was so innocent and harmless that everyone welcomed him for his positive attitude and interesting ancedots which he narrated with a dramatic appeal.
Once he noticed me taking a simple meal before proceeding to office. He suggested me to accompany him for a hearty meal at Warikoo's house , who were celebrating marriage ceremony of their son. I most politely declined his invitation offer with the excuse that my presence at office was required urgently.
He was a very good conversationalist . His conversation was always full of humour and satire. Whenever simple food was served to him. He would usually say. Oh! You are very formal with me. Why do you prepare such delicacies for me. I am one among you. You should treat me like that. We always acknowledged his comic utterances with delightful gestures and never considered him burden on us.
Once Shamboo Nath's earlier landlord narrated me an incident of him . He told me, I gave him Five rupees along with few letters one day and advised him to purchase stamps from the Post office and post the letters after affixing stamps on them.
After some time he reached back with a jubilant look and while returning the money back addressed to me enthusiastically.
Sir I have fooled the Post officials today . I did not purchase stamps. I looked everywhere and after confirming that no body was noticing me, I dropped the letters in the Post Box with out affixing stamps on them. To day I outsmarted them and saved your money. The landlord felt aghast and clean bowled by his smartness.
While brooding over the incident, I fell asleep and was awoken by a harsh knock at the door. I got startled as a slight knock at the door could frighten one easily those days. I looked at the wall clock. It was already half past six. Some body was calling me. It was a familiar voice. I rushed to the front gate and opened it with a jerk. I was astonished .Lo and behold ! it was Shamboo Nath in flesh and blood and very much alive before my eyes. I could not beleive my eyes. I controlled my curiosity and let him in with out disclosing any thing to him. However, He informed me that another Hindu was killed today on the main Street heading towards Habbakadal by the terrorists . The victim was Janki Nath resident of Fateh kadel , a retired School teacher who had come through our lane to reach Habba kadal Bridge.
Later on it transpired that it was a case of mistaken identity. The terrorists had actually to kill Shamboo Nath , whom they considered temple priest and informer as he visited from door to door in the area. They were given full identity of Shamboo Nath who used to leave temple usually at quarter to nine. But on the fateful day Shamboo Nath was late by half an hour and an unknown person Janki Nath of Fateh kadal was crossing the lane who resembled Shamboo Nath in every respect , the same stature, same firan, same cap and most conspicous same vermilion pasted on his forehead , was shown to killers who were living near chota bazar and had reached the spot crossing through by lanes with Gun in their hands. They killed the victim at point zero range to ensure his instant death. I could understand that whether Shamboo Nath had really fooled the post officials that day or not but he had outsmarted his killers today.
Next day arrangements were made to send Shamboo Nath to Jammu as his life was in great risk. We also joined him at Jammu after some time.