Autobiography · Memoir · Non fiction

Moving Further

The professors of Delhi University in 1960s were mostly communist. Their thoughts influenced my father deeply at that time. From there he developed a keen interest in knowing the facts about Indian and Mughal history. I must say the journey to learn started from University is still going on and the prominent reason of my father’s deep and wide knowledge.

One colleague of my father Malkha Singh who was from a small town Bullandsher in Utter Pradesh, encouraged him to study further and taking his advice my father and Malkha Singh enrolled themselves for Russian language in 1968. They both completed one year certificate course in 1969 and two years diploma in 1970.
My dad was interested to do further advance course in Russian language but due to his stepmother’s partial behavior towards him he was not able to do so. She pressurised my father to do part time work in shop after his office hours.

After working for one year at Vayu Bhawan my father was transferred to Air head Quarters in R.K.Puram Delhi. There was a wing commander Parsi Balsari at that time, he had six fingers in both hands as my father recalled. The Airforce purchased some aircrafts from Russia for Indian Airforce. The manuals provided with the aircrafts were in Russian language. Now they were unable to read and translate it. My father was favorite of Air Marshal Bedi and worked under him. When Wing commander Balsari came to know that my father and his colleague knew Russian he ordered them both to assist him and hired them both in linguistic department.

Translation of Aircraft parts were not an easy task for them both as they were not expert till then. So they both made their own dictionary and did an excellent job which made all officials praise them. Department was very happy with their work. After an year Air Marshal Bedi asked them to join their original department back. In a short spam of few years my father earned so much fame and praise in his department that everyone started calling him human computer. Without looking in files he was able to quote how many spare parts of which craft were placed in which unit of India and in how many numbers. His knowledge used to surprise everyone. 98% of what he quote used to be correct. He earned a lot of respect, love and confidence in his office. His honesty was another strength that he possessed…


To be continued…

Autobiography

Post Graduation

The third and final year of graduation of my father ended in 1964. There were 10 to 12 students in his honours class. From them 4- 5 belonged to Khukrain biradari. One batch mate with surname Bhasin used to do part time job in Ashoka hotel Delhi. He used to do night duties. Due to inconvenience of study at home my father he offered my father to join him for combined studies at his room alloted by hotel in hotel campus. So after working at my grandfather’s dryclean shop my father used to go to Ashoka Hotel where they both did combined studies for final year. Near their room there was Embassy are and park of Embassy was very beautiful. Sometimes they went there to study or walk. This experience was very new for my father who spent most of his years either in college or working at shop. He also spent many nights studying in tutorial of night library of Delhi University.

There was a girl Vijaya Mala Suri in his batch. She was the only daughter of owner of Milap Newspaper. Her residence was in Connaught Place Delhi. She was the only student who used a car to reach University. She was very lively and modern girl. The professor of History Harbans Mukherjee used to take out the class in coffee shop for his lectures instead of using classroom. The class used to be very interesting and enjoyable. Vijay Mala Suri used to pay all the bills generously. So this was how graduation brought a new change in my father’s lonely life.

After completing his graduation my dad took admission in M.A. History previous year. He completed this too with good grades. After previous year he applied for job in Airforce as a civilian and due to his good grades in graduation he got selected. He received an interview call from Vayu Bhavan. P. K. Mahanand a Punjabi Christian from Jammu was taking his interview. He asked my father about his qualifications and inquired why he didn’t pursue his post graduation further. My father told him that he needs a job to get self reliant and continue his studies further. He told my dad he will select him only on one condition that my father will complete his MA final year beside doing this job. My father promised him he will and that’s how he was selected in Airforce as a civilian officer where he worked his entire life. He got retirement as a Gazetted officer on 28th February 2003 and still enjoying his life as a pensioner in 2020.

Thankfully on guidance of his officer my father restarted his post graduation after one year gap. He did lots of hardwork. Attended his office 9:00 to 5:30 six days a week and joined evening classes for his studies. He used to leave his office at 5:30 and had to reach Morris Nagar at 6:20 to attend classes till 9:20 p.m. In 1967 he completed his M.A. final year in high second division. No one used to reach first division i.e. above 60% at that time. His mentor, friend and officer P.K. Mahanand celebrated this happily with him.



To be continued…

Autobiography

Blessings From Heaven

In 1962 my father cleared his first year of university. Till then he made many friends in college and learnt that life is vivacious and full of colours. He used to mention name of one of his college mate Vijaya Mala Suri, a girl who belonged to a very affluent family. Even many years later my father used to praise her for her bold, progressive nature which was not so common in girls at that time. The influence of her smartness left an impact on him in such a way that he always inspired his both daughters to be bold and smart.

In 1963 when my father was appearing for his second year exam his grandmother fell very ill. One night previous to his Economics exam which was a subsidiary subject but it was compulsory to clear that to promote to next level, condition of his grandmother became very serious. He spent night sitting beside her. In midnight she became unconscious. Early morning she took her last breath and last word that she said was my father’s name. She also instructed him before felling unconscious to complete his education. My father promised his grandmother he will pursue the same. On her demise my dad was heartbroken. He again lost a loving motherly figure from his life. After losing his own mother at an early age he was showered with love by his grandmother but first time he felt all alone in this whole world. He refused to go to give his exam as he wanted to be there with his grandmother at time of her last rituals. But his aunts insisted him to go and appear for his exam as that was his grandmother’s last wish. The family ensured him that they will wait for him at cremation ground.

With heavy heart my father left for examination hall. According to him he was mentally not present there. Non stop tears were flowing down from his eyes while he was writing his paper. No student was allowed to leave the examination hall before one hour. He said he doesn’t remember what he wrote in his answer sheet. He attempted just enough questions to score minimum required marks to clear the exam. Exactly after one hour he left the examination centre and rushed towards cremation ground. He reached Nigam Bodh ghat by 4:15 pm. Just before cremation of his grandmother. With her a part of his soul left him too.

Miraculously or with blessings of his grandmother he was the only student who cleared that exam. That was the incident that firmed his belief in blessings of souls. He never used to go to temples, Gurudwara etc but he was firm believer of Karma. At very early age my father developed a strong belief in spirituality. Teachings of Buddha were his inspiration. He still follows voice of his soul.

To be continued…

Autobiography

College Days Of My Father

College life of Kirori Mal was very lively and a fresh breeze of freedom in life of youngsters of 60’s Era. After living a life of discipline and obedience the new found freedom was a great gift for my father. Kirori Mal was a very famous college of North campus at that time. Personalities like Amitabh Bachan, Kulbhushan Kharbanda etc also enrolled themselves in same college that year. Though at that time they were not famous actors. Amitabh ji was son of famous poet Harivansh Rai Bachan and came from a very influential family background. He was very tall, slim, shy and introvert guy. He took admission in English Honours. According to my father his personality and command over English was very pleasing. Kulbhushan kharbanda was very famous theater artist. He used to take part in stage plays and dramas. Who knew then they both were going to be great artist in future. Even my father didn’t know one day he will have a girl child who in future will be a good friend of Kulbhushan kharbanda’s sister’s daughter. That is how life unfold itself slowly and mysteriously.

60s was an era where Indian youth was exploring new fashion. Those days white trousers were latest in fashion. Every guy purchased many pairs of white trousers. The fashion came from Jitender a famous Bollywood actor. Keeping it sparkling white was a great effort though. Girls were fond of following Sadhna and Mumtaz style of Bollywood. Tight Shirt or kurti with tight bottoms called churidaar.

One of the professor of History used to take his classes outside the campus in a coffee home. My father still remember and appreciate his way of friendly teaching. He used to take a topic and then invite everyone to take part in discussion. I too learnt from his method of teaching described by my dad and adopted this teaching my students.



To be continued…

Autobiography

Years after my great grandfather

My uncle as I mentioned earlier was born in 1957. Same year my father’s Aunt Pushpawanti gave birth to one more son who was named Devinder. Later on she gave him in adoption to my father’s paternal Aunt Ganga Devi who was not able to conceive. Though it was not easy for Pushpawanti to gave away her son but everyone in family convinced her to do so since she already had three sons by then. With heavy heart and due to pressure of family she had to give her son to her sister in law. Ganga devi and her husband raised the child very lovingly and with great care.

In 1959 second uncle of my father got married to Shakuntala Rani, a girl of normal middle class based in Ghaziabad near Delhi. My father was in 9th standard by that time. He didn’t attend the wedding as my grandfather asked him to take care of shop and home during the period of marriage ceremony as no one was there to look after. The baraat proceeded for Ghaziabad and my father was left behind.

Time was passing at it’s own pace and my father’s grandmother was taking good care of him. She never used to leave him alone and this left no chance for my step grandmother to come close to him. My aunt Veena was growing in a sharp, shy and decent girl. My cousin uncles were all growing up in well behaved hard working boys. Uncle Balkrishn was good in studies like my dad. All others were average but hard working, well behaved and obedient boys.

My father completed his higher secondary in 1961. At that time it was considered from class 9th to class 11th. He scored second division in higher secondary which was considered good at that time. He decided to take admission in Economics Honours but due to one less mark in Economics he was refused to get that. Mr Mangat Ram Barsar was admission incharge of Kirori Mal College in North Campus of Delhi University. He advised my father to take History Honours instead of Economics and to take Economics as subsidiary subject. My father accepted that and got admission. Soon he developed a deep interest in History too.

To be continued…

Autobiography

End Of An Era!

It was a hot day of June or July in year 1956. My great grandfather who was perfectly healthy took my Aunt Veena and uncle Jaigopal carrying on his shoulders to show them a wedding procession (barat in hindi) passing from street. He used to take his grandchildren out for a walk in evening. My father has memories of many such plasant walks. That day he came back had his dinner and Babulal (his son in law) who was present there told him that a sadhu declared that he has the ability to extend life. He can increase years of life of any person, with his magical powers. My great grandfather laughed on hearing this and replied, “Babulal not a single second of anyone’s life could be increased or decreased. Death is prewritten and we all will breath as many breathes as written in our destiny. Not a single more nor a single less”. And smiled saying that if I had to die tonight no one can stop it. Everyone took his sentence lightly. The debate continued for almost an hour.

Aftet having dinner everyone had nice chit chat, just as they used to do daily. Then slowly one by one they all retired to bed. As it was a summer day they all were sleeping on roof of the two storey house, on cots. After a few hours my great grandfather waked up my great grandmother and asked her to take him to ground floor. He said time has come and he has to leave this material world now. My great grandmother was a very wise and brave lady. Without creating panic she asked my grandfather to wake up and gather everyone. They all took my great grandfather to ground floor as per his wish. My great grandmother quickly arranged for last rituals as per Hindu belief. She lit an earthen lamp (a diya) towards his head alongwith all other things needed at that time. She asked everyone not to cry as it would be painful for departing soul and hinders the soul’s journey. She also put holy Ganges water with Tulsi in his mouth, which is believed to librate soul. She quickly arranged a silver coin and made my great grandfather to donate the same alongwith some grains. It is believed very auspicious in Hindu religion. In a few minutes of all this very peacefully my great grandfather left his body.

I believe this state where a soul leaves body so peacefully and with his own wish and self power is very rare. Only saints who attain higher level of spiritualism reach this state of salvation. I’m so proud to be born in his family. His light still shines very clearly in his only photograph that was taken a few years ago of his demise.

Autobiography

Early life of my father

God has created mothers in his own image and liking. No one can take her place. She can play multiple roles in her child’s life. When and if she leaves her child, world becomes a cold place. There is a saying in Punjabi- ” Manvan thandiyan chavan” means mothers are like cool sheds or shelters. When this cool shelter is taken away from the head of a small child, the earth below his feet turns into burning sand.

My father and his stepmother were not in bad terms but the harmonious relationship between them was missing. There could be many reasons behind this. My father had to move to his grandparent’s room after his father’s second marriage. He must have felt abandoned and lonely. He was too young to accept these changes. Secondly my step grandmother was herself at very innocent age to play role of mother of an eight years old boy. Still she tried her best to take good care of my father when he developed asthma at very young age and he had to bear attacks of it at time of changing weather. She treated him lovingly and without getting irritated. This shows she was a kind woman basically and was loving and kind hearted too.

With passing years the relationship between them changed little bitter but there should be a reason behind it too. My father’s grandmother grew very protective for him and didn’t trust anyone regarding his food and other things. This may be a cause my step grandmother grew distant from him. After a few years of their marriage my father’s step sister was born. Her birth also brought a change in my step grandmother’s affection towards my father. Her priorities changed. Though still she used to take my father with her at her hometown whenever she used to visit it. My father was also lucky to receive love of his two aunts one maternal Shanti Devi and second was her paternal aunt Ganga Devi. His holidays used to be booked in two parts. For one month he used to go to Unnao to spend time with his maternal grandparent’s home and one month with his bhua (paternal aunt) at Khatoli a small town in UP famous for it’s sugar industry. His uncle was employed in a sugar mill.

In 1951 my father’s first cousin was born. Eldest son of PuranChand and Pushpawanti Kohli,who was named as Bal krishan Two years later after Bal Krishan chacha, in 1953 second son of PuranChand was born. Jagmohan was the name given to brother of Balkrishan. After two years of Jagmohan chacha in 1955 my father’s step sister and my most favorite aunt Veena and third son of Puran Kohli named Jai Gopal were born whom we call Bhole chacha as he is too simple by nature.

Before the birth of my aunt Veena my father’s two aunts got married. Fourth daughter of Sadh Ram( my great grandfather)Rajkumari with Attar Chand Sahni who lived in Gwalior and fifth daughter Uma to Pishori lal Arora of a known one of Attar Chand who too were resident of Gwalior and was employed in a government job.

After Veena Kohli my step grandmother gave birth to a son in 1957 on August 31st and he was named DeshKumar Kohli. Both Veena and DeshKumar used to love my father and were close to him. Life in 1950s was not easy one. Though my grandfather was earning well but due to large joint family and huge responsibilities one day he called my father, who was in eighth standard at that time in year 1958. He asked him either to quit the school or help him in dryclean shop after school to save wages of one labour. My father had a great respect for his father but after losing his mother he used to hesitate to share his feelings with him. Those days words of elders used to be followed without any objection. Respect for elders was everything. So my dad agreed to study and work together without raising any voice. He was just thirteen years old when he started working with his father at shop. After school in afternoon he used to reach directly at shop. Where he used to change his uniform, neatly folding it so that it could be used next day. Then he used to work till 8 pm. All kinds of work from washing, (which was done by hands those days) to dry clothes, pressing, taking stock maintaining sale registers, booking and all sorts of work at an innocent age of thirteen or fourteen years. From shop he used to reach back home at 8:30 or 9:00. After having dinner he used to go to Roshanara Bagh to study in lamp light, using the large round sewer pipes made of cement to use them for practicing mathematics, as he was not provided much notebooks to study.

Still he was among top students of his class.

To be continued…

P.S.- Some facts about Roshanara Bagh

Picture Courtesy: Wikipedia

Autobiography · Memoir · Non fiction · Uncategorized

Sahiya

My grandfather was just 25 years old when he remarried after living happily for 8 years with my grandmother Vidhya Kohli and losing her to the cruel hands of death. Agya Rani his second wife was a young girl of just 16 years. She was not mature enough to handle a son from her husband’s previous marriage. It must not be easy for her too to accept a stepson. Her family lived in a small village Sahiya 64 kilometres away from Dehradun in U.P. now in Uttrakhand. At that time my grandfather though widowed must be a good prospect as a husband for her. A boy, living in capital, earning well and from a renowned family of same clan. Maybe it could be reason her parents agreed to give her hand to him. People at that time were simple and they used to value name of the family.

My father was adamant to attend his father’s wedding and on his insistence his grandparents agreed to take him to Sahiya. He clearly remember that it was a simple wedding. Sahiya was a beautiful town in hills. Reaching there was not easy as there were no good connecting roads. Sahiya was a business centre for many small near or far off villages. Shops there were small and made of wood. Each shop was unique as every shop there however small it was used to sell every item of daily need. From vegetables to bedsheets, from small needle to umbrella, from milk to matchbox etc etc. any possible thing of daily use one can imagine were available there.

Although people of Sahiya were clever businessmen. The villagers who were their customers were very innocent people with zero cleverness. Sahiya people used to call them ‘Sayane ji’ means wise person in code words actually making fun of them. The villagers used to bring ghee (pure desi oil) butter, milk, honey and many home made products and the clever shopkeepers used to barter huge quantity of it with matchbox, salt or cheap things in return. Poor villagers were too innocent to raise any objections or even realising it.

The villagers were so poor that they didn’t have enough clothes to wear. The men used to wear just one long shirt and no pants. Women used to wrap just one saree tied to their waist. It was their belief that they were descendants of Pandavas. They used to follow the norm of marrying one girl to many brothers just like Draupadi got married to five brothers in Mahabharata. Though due to extreme poverty and no employment in those villages only one brother used to stay with family and rest used to move or migrate to big cities of Dehradun, Saharanpur etc to earn their living. Later on they started sending their children to cities for education.Being tribal people they mostly belonged to schedule tribes. This benefited them to secure government jobs in quota reserved for tribal people. These days many of them are enjoying the position of high officials in Government jobs.

Though these tribal people were simple and foolish but with time and education their offsprings and future generation gained knowledge and intelligence too. Now I’m living in a socity of Garhwali people since 2003 and taught many Garhwali students in past 15 years. They are very sharp and quick learner. Light of education can transform lives. And I have witnessed this.

To be continue…

Autobiography · Memoir · Non fiction

The Great Loss

Life was treating Kohli family fine in 1950. Business was running good, family was finally settled down, making peace with new life in big city. My father recall going to his maternal parents home in Unnao with his mother. His maternal aunt Shanti Devi started working in a government school there. Her inlaws moved to Meerut a small town in Uttar Pradesh near Delhi. Though they were least concerned about her after she lost her husband. She refused to remarry and lived with her father, two uncles, aunts and cousins in a big home in Unnao.

In 1951 my grandmother was preparing to go to attend wedding of her cousin in Unnao. She was facing some health issues after losing her two children. One morning she was going to get her health check up to a nearby doctor. My father who was seven years old at that time asked to go with her. She told him to wait at home but my father was adamant to go with her. She took him with her and on the way purchased some toys for him and asked him to go back and wait at home. She promised him she will return back soon.

At clinic the doctor gave her wrong injection in hurry. She died immediately as soon as vaccine reached her nerves. As soon as news reached at home, my grandfather and his brother rushed towards the clinic. They were burning with anger and grief. But everyone told them not to lose their temper as what happened couldn’t be reversed. The doctor himself committed suicide the same day. Maybe he was mentally unstable that day.

Telegram was sent to Unnao and other relatives who lived out of station. My father was surprised to see why his mother was not responding to anyone and lying there. He was told and explained that she left him forever. But he chose to believe in last words of his mother to him, A promise, that she would be back home soon. At the innocent age of seven, he lost his mother. He was too young to deal with this loss.

My father’s grief was unexplainable. He was so shattered that he withdrew himself from every activity. After some days when he started going school again, he used to go to Roshnara park and sit in the garden all alone, crying and coming back home at the time when school got over. No one at his home knew this. After three-four weeks the teacher send one of his classmate at his home with a slip which mentioned that he was expelled from school.

His family was surprised. My great grandparents, grandfather and his uncle all went to school during school hours to talk to the headmaster. They asked him how could he expel an innocent boy from school? Headmaster told them that he is not attending school since many weeks that too without giving any application. Now the question was where was Harmesh? They all searched for my father and found him sitting on a bench in the park, looking in oblivion, lost, lonely and sad. The sight moved everyone to tears. Even the headmaster’s eyes were wet. When he came to know the truth he again gave him admission and instructed the teachers and his classmates to took special care of him. The family realised their mistake that they didn’t give the proper attention to him after his mother’s death.

From that day my great grandmother took over his whole responsibility and gave him so much love that the loss of mother was healed. My father always say any loss could be recovered if the person grieving gets love to heal it.

His maternal aunt Shanti Devi asked my grandfather to give the adoption of my father to her but my father’s grandparents refused it immediately. They promised her that their doors would always be open for her and she could come and meet him anytime. My grandfather too kept the relationship with my grandmother’s family till his death.

After a year of my grandmother’s death my great grandparents soon arranged second marriage of my grandfather with a girl of Bhasin family of Dehradoon. Agya Rani became stepmother of my father in 1952.

To be continued…

Autobiography · Memoir · Non fiction

My Great Grandfather!

My father used to call his father ‘Papaji’ and his mother ‘Pabhiji’ (punjabi version of Bhabhiji. In punjabi, brothers and sisters address their sister in law; wife of elder brother Pabiji). So like his uncles my father too started addressing his mother in the same way. Later on every one started following it as ritual. Even we the grandchildren followed the same. In this way my father in his innocence started a new way to address our elders. His grandmother and her sister were ‘Beji’ for him.

In 1950 my grandparents enrolled my father in a nearby school in class one. At that time School education in India used to start from class one. There was no provision for pre school education. Roshnara Bagh School was boys school. It was near Roshnara Bagh, tomb of Roshnara Begam, who was daughter of Mughal Empror Jahangir and favorite sister of Aurangjeb. My father was good in studies and Pabiji (his mother) used to teach him at home. She was his mother, teacher and best friend.

My great grandfather was very fond of my father. In evening he used to take him out giving ride to him on his shoulders. He used to tell him all kinds of stories. My father learnt and inherited kindness, softness, gentleness from his grandfather. Mr. Sadh Ram Kohli (my great grandfather) kept his generosity going after partition. He used to distribute food and clothes to needy, arranged marriages of poor girls. He helped many migrated fellow men to start and run their own business in Delhi. Whenever anyone was in need of raw materials, supplies to run business or money etc my grear grandfather used to arrange the same for them even without bringing it to their notice.

Roshanlal was an orphan who lived nearby. He lost his parents at young age. After partition he reached Delhi but lost his family in riots. My great grandfather suggested him to open a tea stall to run his living and also helped him open one. It started doing a good business. Sadhram, my great grandfather was an early riser. He took the responsibility of opening shop of my grandfather every morning. Around 6:00 to 7:00 he used to open the shop. There was no restriction at that time on opening or closing timings of markets. Roshanlal’s shop was two shops away from my grandfather’s shop. My great grandfather regularly checked his tea stall. Roshanlal was little lazy and being young and alone was not too serious about his business. His employees were instructed to open the shop around 5:00 in the morning to start the bhatti (earthen gas stove) to prepare tea for market people and other customers. Whenever the work in his shop didn’t start my great grandfather used to ask his employees and they used to tell him, “Lalaji there is no milk in stock, how could we prepare tea?” Or “we don’t have sugar” etc..and after this He used to arrange milk or sugar or tea and himself used to see if the workers are doing their job or not. People in that area addressed him ‘Lalaji’ as he was royal in every aspect. Not only due to money that he and his sons earned in short period of time but the way he used to walk, stand, talk and pure white clothes He used to wear were very impressive. Roshanlal told my grandfather that he didn’t remember his own father but he never missed having one after meeting my great grandfather. In Roshanlal’s words, “Lalaji is my father who take care of me and my business like his own son. Merits of my pre births are given to me in form of his blessings”.

Not only Roshanlal but He gave shelter to his wife’s younger brother and sister and arranged their marriages too with his own cousin brother and sister. He also helped and developed relations with Nanak Chand Oberoi a fellow man from Shinkiari. Nanak Chand Oberoi used to give him respect him as his father. To my grandfather he was like his elder brother. With time Nanak Chand gained a very renowned position in my father’s paternal family. No decision was finalized without his consent. In return he too had great love for Kohli family.

To be continued…

Autobiography · Memoir · Non fiction

Towards Future…

Unlike big Haveli of Shinkiari where there were two large Baithaks (drawing rooms) and several bed rooms, big kitchen, spacious verandas and big Aangan with so much greenery and trees all around, House No 3398 was much smaller and in a very poor condition. There were no drawing rooms, no big veranda, no trees or greenery around the house. In comparison to NWFP, here roads were narrow, busy and noisy. Old Delhi was congested place. There was no provision of water supply in any house. There were just two Municipality taps nearby. Everyone had to fetch water from there. My grandfather’s house had one handpump but it was not in working condition. Other downside of Delhi was it’s extreme climate. People of Mansehra, Shinkiari and Abbotabad were not used to intense heat. They belonged to a cool place with plasant climate. The impact of Delhi’s heat hit many who were above sixty years of age. Many elderly people were unable to bear this extreme climate and died in a short span of Migration.

Rest and young ones adopted themselves to the new ways of life, adjusting their big family in a small city home. The room adjacent to kitchen was given to newly married couple. The other room on ground floor was shared by my great grandparents and their two unmarried daughters. The room at first floor became bedroom of my grandparents and my father, who was around four years old at that time.

The youngest brother of my grandfather started his further studies in ITI near Roshnara Road. Government Of India started many plans for NWFP people, who lost their lands, money, home and migrated to Delhi. Government started giving aid for further studies, jobs and rehabilitation. That’s how Ramji Kohli, youngest uncle of my father got admission in ITI, where he was also provided with free hostel, meals and educational facilities.

Puran Kohli, second brother of my grandfather started selling vegetables in Subzi Mandi. My grandfather was still waiting for some big opportunity to earn his livelihood. As his health was not in a very good condition my great grandfather didn’t pressurize him to start work soon. My grandfather wanted to earn big money as he used to in Shinkiari. Back in Shinkiari after closing his shop in evening he used to bring back money, wrapped and tied inside a big bedsheet, as he had no time counting and arranging it in his shop. Being wholesalers and famous in that area they were earning a fortune. At home all members used to sit in drawing room at night to count the money. It was my grandfather’s dream to bring back the days of royal life they lived once and to earn well to give all comforts to his family.

Meanwhile in 1948 my grandmother and his sister in law Pushpawanti gave birth to two girls in difference of a few days. Both new born girls were very beautiful like their mothers. Everyone used to advise not to show their babies to anyone to protect them from evil eyes. My father was happy to have a sister. They named her Suchintmani. Both girls were astonishingly beautiful babies. But when could angels come to reside for long on this Earth. Both babies died soon after their birth in a gap of a few days. My grandparents lost their second child and the other couple lost their first born.

In 1949 my grandfather met a sufi kind very gentle Muslim man,who had a dry clean shop in Azad Market, Pulbangash. The place was just two kilometers from Kohli residence in old Delhi. He offered my grandfather to buy his shop to continue the already running business. At that time the money left with them was four thousand out of the ten thousand that they had when they left Shinkiari. My grandfather told him he knew nothing about dry clean business. The man who was selling it was very gentle, kind and helping. He suggested my grandfather that he could extend his stay there for a month to teach my grandfather all about dry cleaning business. He also agreed to sell his shop alongwith all the amenities at three thousand rupees. His shop had two portions one was at front or main showroom, which was under commercial area and situated on main road. The backside or factory area was actually a residential area. Both were joined from inside in this way it was a showroom cum factory and was very big area. He told them they had to pay monthly rent for both portions to the government, which was six or seven rupees for front and two or three rupees for factory area. My grandfather decided to purchase the shop immediately.

This way Cleanwell dry cleaners (earlier known as Public Service) established in 1949.( It is still a famous shop of Azad Market. Now my uncle runs it efficiently). My grandfather was a laborious man. It took him no time to take this business to a great height. There were many small dry clean shops in and around that area but no one had a factory like my grandfather owned. So these small shops started bringing their laundry at my grandfather’s factory. In a year or two number of these shops reached to seven or eight. Cleanwell dry cleaners became king of their business in Azad Market Old Delhi.

My grandfather suggested his younger brother Puranchand to open a booking counter in Arya Pura. He purchased a small shop in Arya Pura just outside their residence for his brother and asked him to stop selling vegetables. Puranchand Kohli who had great contacts in Mandi started bringing clothes of many mandi people. Inflow of booking at his small shop kept increasing. From his shop all the clothes were sent to Cleanwell and my grandfather used to manage the rest. Both brothers were now earning well within two years of Migration. That’s how Kohli brothers established themselves in a foreign land with their positivity, hardwork, determination.

To be continued…

Autobiography · Memoir · Non fiction · Uncategorized

House No 3398

House No 3398 in Arya Pura was the last house in a narrow lane out of total four houses. All houses were abandoned by Muslim families who fled to Pakistan. It was a two storey house. There were three rooms in it. Two on ground floor and one was on terrace. Entrance of these rooms were open, without any door and used to be covered with a jute sheet. There was a big open kitchen where food was cooked on earthen gas stoves using wood logs known as Chullah. Food was cooked and served sitting on floor. There were no shelves or standing arrangement. Adjoining to the kitchen was a small room which was dark as no sunlight reached there and there was no electricity at that time. The other room opened in veranda. This was also not a very big room. Opposite to the room was a bathroom. Main gate of the house had opening in a small narrow covered path which lead to stairs to the terrace and at right hand side was ground floor portion. The room on terrace was in a poor condition. The roof used to leak in rainy season. This room too had no wooden door. But the walls were so thick that two deep and broad almirahs were built inside them.

The terrace was big enough to accommodate 30 to 35 people gathering. The front side of terrace was adjacent to back side of a Karkhana, a small scale industry. It was a kind of shield between that house and main road. Left hand side faced towards the entrance lane. At right hand side there was another home which was given to cousin of my great grandfather whose wife was my great grandmother’s younger sister. They had two daughters and one son Pushpraj Kohli. Both the houses were connected with a small passage door from inside on ground floor, though entrance of both houses were in two different lanes. The first floor of that house too had one room, where lived one of my grandfather’s cousin, while terrace of both houses were joined together with a single wall between them.

At a small distance and a few lanes away my grandfather’s two married sisters lived with their families. Many other relatives moved in that area. They all wanted to live as near to each other as possible. These simple people were not used to big city life. Afraid and terrified they started the second half of their life in capital of New India.

North West Frontier Province people had an admirable quality that they were true fighters. They were hardworking, honest and lively people. They knew how to live and celebrate life. The harsh and hard times taught them to unbend to any situation and face the reality boldly. They never considered any work small or shameful. From selling lemons to doing laundry they accepted everything and anything and did it gracefully to earn living.

Arya Pura Subzi Mandi was a big wholesale vegetable market of Old Delhi. Without wasting time and losing it to their ego many families of NWFP soon started selling vegetables and fruits. They were good businessmen yet very polite people so it took them no time to establish themselves in new environment. From scratch to wholesaler, even old residents of Delhi admired them for their hardwork, self esteem and dedication.

Starting their day at 4:00 in morning. Men used to leave for work around 5:00 and used to came back at 2 or 3 in afternoon. They all loved to spend quality time with their families. In evening families of all relatives used to gather at my grandfather’s house to enjoy evening tea together. They all were very loving, sociable and fun loving. Women used to prepare different snacks and then chat for long hours, remembering their old life, and beauty of the place left behind. They used to sing punjabi songs and this way evenings were most celebrated time of the day.

The pain of partition and abandoning their land didn’t make them bitter but infused their hearts with great love and compassion for each other. They had seen end and new beginnings so they were aware of true value of life and humanity. It was strength of their character and sanskars that they were able to smile, laugh and celebrate even after witnessing so much destruction and bearing so much loss. True fighters they were…

To be continued…

Autobiography · Memoir · Non fiction · Uncategorized

Haridwar

 

Haridwar-Door of God! This pilgrim city gave shelter to many migrants that reached there during partition of 1947. Leaving behind all that they had. Their homes, jobs, business, cattle, name, fame and all that they saved or earned in their life.

 

My grandparents like many other families took shelter in a Dharamshala (kind of shelter home) in Haridwar. They didn’t stay there for long as they were used of peaceful environment of Shinkiari unlike the crowded and noisy environment of Haridwar. Secondly they find it hard to earn a living there. Starting a new business in a pilgrim city didn’t excite them much. During their short three months stay in Haridwar two major events took place. First was my great grandfather fixed marriage of his second son Puranchand Kohli who was younger and second brother of my grandfather with Pushpawanti, daughter of a family from Nawan Shehr, Abbottabad. She was also childhood friend and neighbor of my grandmother in Abbottabad. Just like my grandmother she too was stunningly beautiful.

 

The other major and unfortunate event was death of one year old younger brother of my father. Due to sickness and lack of treatment the child was not able to bear the ruthlessness of those harsh times. After loosing the child my grandfather too fell sick. His condition was getting worse but my grandmother devotedly took care of him.

 

The family decided to move to Delhi on suggestion of my grandfather’s brother in law who already shifted to Arya Pura, Subzi Mandi in Old Delhi. There were many houses in Arya Pura vacated by Muslim families who migrated to Pakistan during partition. Moti Ram Sahni, my grandfather’s brother in law and his family selected one such house and moved in there. Most of the families now left in that area were baniya or Jain families.

 

My great grandparents along with their two sons, new daughter in law and two unmarried daughters left for Delhi, while my grandparents and my father decided to stay in Haridwar for another three months due to my grandfather’s health issues. Rest of the family reached Delhi and selected a small house instead of big vacant houses. The reason behind this was the terror they still had in their minds and hearts . Terror of the riots, brutal murders, rapes and looting they witnessed in past few months. To stay secure and close to each other they selected a house which was not visible directly from road. In this way House No 3398 of Arya Pura Subzi Mandi became my ancestral home. The real roots that were in Shinkiari Mansehra still are alive in stories told to us and we could almost see them in eyes of those who are there and never get tired describing the beauty of their birthplace.

 

To be continued…




Pictures of Present day Haridwar
Source: Pinterest














Autobiography · Memoir · Non fiction

Pain Of Separation

My father’s maternal family who lived in Nawan Shehr Abbottabad were also facing similar difficulties during partition time. Abbottabad was even more beautiful hill station than Shinkiari. People of Abbottabad were similar in looks to Kashmiri people. Abbotabad is just few kilometers away from Kashmir. Even the present generation of people who migrated from there have features similar to Kashmiri people. Nawan Shehr was small part of Abbottabad. The families of almost all punjabi, khukrain biradari who lived there, were related to each other. Most families lived nearby sharing neighborhood with each other. There was a very large open area inbetween and it was surrounded by big houses all around. All the houses were inhabited by a big ‘Kunba’ (families of similar clan) of my maternal grandmother’s parents.

My grandmother’s parent’s family was a very big joint family. My father’s maternal grandfather Gyan Chand Anand lived with his two brothers and cousins. Gyan Chand Anand’s wife and one of his younger brother’s wife were sisters. His younger brother’s daughter who was my grandmother’s cousin sister was married to Mr Bihari Lal Sethi (who became my inlaws later). They too were resident of Nawan Shehr Abbottabad. At that time Mr Bihari Lal Sethi’s younger brother was working in a bank in Unnao a small district in Uttar Pradesh near Kanpur. He sent a telegram to his family and asked all of them to leave Abbottabad and to migrate in Unnao. Outside Abbottabad every place was unknown to them so they decided to move to Unnao which was atleast known place due to one family member there. My grandmother’s family too migrated to Unnao with Sethi family. Reason was they all were so scared that they decided to move in group to feel warmth and security of close family and relatives in crucial times.

The Anand family (my grandmother’s parent’s family) and Sethi family had very good relations and it became more strong during partition. Even today both families share a very loving bond.

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At another place in Mansehra my mother was born a few months after partition on 9th October 1947. My maternal grandparents were also Anands. My maternal grandfather was a graduate, which was not very common at that time. He was very handsome and belonged to a royal family. Though his education, royal status and high post in a renowned company made him a little egoistic too. He used to work in Hindustan Lever Company as a manager. My mother was first born child of my grandmother Ramdevi and grandfather Manohar Lal Anand. They left Mansehra a few months after partition. Till then they took refuge in a shelter camp. When they realized that there is no use to stay there anymore and they had to move, then they left Pakistan under army protection. My grandmother told us that my mother was two or three months old then and to save her life they packed the baby inside a suitcase wrapped in some clothes and made a hole in suitcase for air. So my mother came to India packed in a suitcase.

When we asked the reason behind this my grandmother told us that they decided to throw the suitcase in river in case of any attack to save the baby from abduction or brutally murdered. But thankfully no such thing happened and they too reached safely to Haridwar. From there stopping at many places they reached Old Delhi Sadar Bazar area and occupied a big home vacated by some Muslim family. My mother’s uncles, aunts and cousins were also with them.

My grandfather again joined the Hindustan Lever Limited in Delhi. Where he got promoted and shifted to Shakti Nagar in a big house on rent.

To be continued…

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Some pictures of Abbottabad

Source: Pinterest and Google

Autobiography · Memoir · Non fiction

The Great Migration!

In December 1946 Atrocities against non-Muslims in the Hazara division had started. The murder and arson were committed by gangs of Muslims in Bafa, Shinkiari, Balakot and Mansehra (all of which are situated in Hazara division), during the month of December. Thousands of innocents including women and children were killed or injured by mobs, supported by the All India Muslim League.

Though Muslim families of Shinkiari were never in favour of these cruel attacks, murders or looting. They never wanted the Hindu families to leave the place. It was mob outside of town who was responsible for all this and they all were politically supported and paid to do this. Muslim families of Shinkiari helped saving lives of their loving neighbors. They gave shelter to them during all this.

My grandfather told us that everyone used to believe that this is all temporary and one day peace will come back. But they all were forced to leave that place and moved to camps organized by British government to help them shift from there, when hundreds of dead bodies started reaching nearby towns. Girls and women were raped and abducted. To save themselves many of them jumped into wells or mothers killed their own daughters when they find themselves helpless. Cruelty was in its extreme. There was no other option for Hindu and Sikh families but to leave their homes and run away to save their lives. Many families lost their loved ones. Some got separated from their family. No one knew where they will go and how. Fearful, lost and broken was every heart.

My great grandfather refused to leave Shinkiari. He said he would like to die at his land rather than to leave his home and move somewhere else. Everybody tried to convince him but he was adamant. Though he asked all his children to leave the place as soon as possible. He was worried about his daughter’s safety. My grandfather alongwith his wife, two sons, two unmarried sisters, two younger brothers left his beloved hometown forever. Fortunately they were so wealthy that at that time they left with a cash of Rupees ten thousand and many kilograms of gold and silver. Not only this they burried and hid some cash and gold somewhere in house in hope that whenever they would return in future they will dig it out.

People of that era were so simple and innocent that many families instead of taking gold (which they burried somewhere in their houses) carried utensils and bedding with them so that they could cook and sleep comfortably during their journey. A journey to place unknown!

Our family too carried with them as much utensils, bedding and clothes as they were able to. They all said goodbye to my great grandfather whom they left in protection of Muslim families of Shinkiari, giving them instructions to send them safely if things get worse. The Muslims gave them assurance that they will take care of them and protect them. Not only this they assured Hindu families that they would look after their homes in their absence till they all return back. So sure were they all, that everything will fall in back in place and this is just for time being. Who thought even in their dreams that the beautiful Shinkiari of 1940s could never see them back again.

In all these riots, rapes, murders our family was blessed and very lucky that not a single member of Kohli family or even anyone in relation faced any cruel fate. They safely reached Kashmir and after travelling for long and via many places they decided to go to Haridwar the only well known place in would be India to them. These simple ‘Pahari’ (people of mountains) found it very difficult to live in a crowded city. Soon after my great grandfather and great grandmother too reached there rescued by army.

After that no one heard any news of Shinkiari, their home or shops that they left behind alongwith thousands of fond memories.

They kept missing it till their last breath.

To be continued…

Picture Courtesy: Pinterest

Autobiography

More About Mansehra and Shinkiari

Mansehra

Mansehra (Hindko/Urdu/Pashto: مانسہرہ‬) (elevation 1,088 m (3,570 ft)) is a city located in Mansehra District in the eastern part of Khyber Pakhtunkhwaprovince of Pakistan. Mansehra is one of the largest cities of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Kashmir lies to the east.

Mansehra is surrounded by verdant mountains. The name of the city is derived from that of its founder, Sardar Maha Singh Mirpuri, who was a Sikh administrator and general in the Sikh Khalsa Armyduring the rule of the Khalsa Empire of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.

History

Maurya Dynasty

Mansehra Rock Edicts

Ashoka governed this area as a prince, and when he ascended to the imperial throne c. 272 B.C. he made it one of the major seats of his government. The Edicts of Ashoka inscribed on three large boulders near Mansehra record fourteen of Ashoka’s edicts, presenting aspects of the emperor’s dharma or righteous law. These represent some of the earliest evidence of writing in South Asia, dating to middle of the third century BC, and are written from right to left in the Kharosthi script.

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Gurudwara of Mansehra

Pic credits:Pinterest

Sikh rule

The fall of the Afghan Durrani Empire made way for the Sikhs to rise to power under Ranjit Singh. The Sikhs gained control of the area in 1818. The town of Mansehra was founded by Mahan Singh Mirpuri, a Sikh governor.There were popular uprisings against Sikh rule, but these uprisings failed and the Sikhs remained in power until 1849 when the area came under British rule.The town is named in Mahan Singh Mirpuri’s honor.

British period

By 1849, the British had gained control of all of Mansehra. To maintain peace in the area, the British took preventive measures by co-opting the local chiefs.

The British divided Hazara region into three tehsils(administrative subdivisions): Mansehra, Abbottabad, and Haripur; and decided to annex it to the Punjab. In 1901, when the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) was formed, Hazara was separated from Punjab and made a part of it.

During British rule, Mansehra was a small town. Its population according to the 1901 census was 5,087.During the British period, Mansehra was the headquarters of Mansehra Tehsil.

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Shinkiari

Shinkiari

Pic credits: Pinterest

Shinkiari Is a Union Council of Mansehra District in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. The police station was also established before partition at that time Baffa was police chowki of Shinkiri Police Station (thana) and the second police chowki was Battal these both Chowkies have now became police Stations (thanas)

Picture Courtesy: Pinterest
Location
Shinkiari is located 18 km north of Mansehra city on the Karakoram Highway, it is located at 34°28’0N, 73°16’60E at an altitude of 1019 metres (3346 feet). Due to its strategic location Shinkiari is also a base for the Pakistan Army and a major stop for people travelling north.
Terrain
It is famous for cultivating the first tea garden in Pakistan because of its natural environment and terrain.


Picture Courtesy:Pinterest

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Source: Wikipedia

Autobiography

The Grand Celebration!

In August 1946 every household in Shinkiari witnessed a grand celebration of my father’s mundan ceremony. Kohli’s have a custom that mundan ceremony of male child is done on third Janamasthmi (birth day of lord Krishna) after his birth. It fell on 19th August in 1946. My father’s grandfather invited all the people of Shinkiari and all nearby and even distant relatives. Almost a week before this ceremony Kohli house was flooded with guests. Ceremony followed with grand lunch was talk of the town for many days. My maternal grandmother unaware of the fact that my father is going to be her eldest son in law in future too attended his mundan as she was a distant relative. Although my mother was not born at that time.
No one presented there knew it was their last grand celebration in Shinkiari. A cruel fate was waiting around the corner which was about to shake foundation of millions of people. India- Pakistan partition!
Kohli family had earned a great fortune till 1946. They were famous and richest family of that area. In Shinkiari all families including Hindus and Muslims lived with peace and had healthy relationships with each other. It was a small town living in harmony like a big family. My great grandfather alongwith money earned great respect there by his kind and generous nature. He used to make sure no one should sleep without food in his town. Whenever he came to know that someone is in trouble he was the first to go and help them. 
Their time in this heaven like place and beautiful life there was about to come to an end and future was an unknown journey in an unknown land.

To be continued…

Autobiography

Time To Flourish!

By that time Mr Sadh Ram Kohli (my great grandfather) and his son’s business was flourishing with their hardwork, honesty and dedication. They opened four more branches of their wholesale outlets selling various things including clothes, grocery and much more. Retailers from far off villages also came to purchase goods from them. They were making good fortune, name as well as fame at that time.

My grandfather told us that there was a place nearby almost fifteen miles away from Shinkiari which was known as ‘gair illaka’ or land of outsiders. The inhabitants of that area were all pathans. They were so brave, unbeatable and self reliant that British army was unable to take control over their land. They defeated British army two times and finally the army gave up and could never captured their land. In this way that area stayed free and independent from British rule.

Though people generally used to be afraid of their fierce personality but they were good by heart. They had good business terms and were good customers of Kohli wholesalers. Their way of doing business was a bit different. Mostly it was barter based but sometimes when they had to borrow goods on loan due to shortage of supplies from their side, they used to tear one hair of their beard and kept it as security with the loan lender. As told by my grandfather they had to keep that hair in a matchstick safely and very securely and had to preserve it till the Pathan repay the loan. Khans as they addressed themselves were very truthful of their words. On or before the promised date they used to repay the loan in exchange of the hair of their beard.

Kohli brothers sometimes had to go to their area for business purposes. They used to go by foot as it was all hilly snd forest area and there were no cinnecting roads to reach there by any transport. It took them half the day to reach there. In their area which was also a part of Pakhtunkhwa my grandfather and his brothers were treated with lots of respect. Khans were very hospitable. They used to provide a separate haweli, alongwith all necessities including raw materials to cook food as they knew that being Hindus their guests would never accept the food cooked by Khans. They used to entertain their guests with love and hospitality. The language spoken at that area was Pashto.

The dress of people of Shinkiari was similar to that of pathans. Men used to wear white salwar kameez and black coat or jacket and a pathani turban on their head. Women used to wear salwar suit with dupatta mostly white. And pink at time of some auspicious function or marriage ceremonies. Zari work, gota work and work of gold and silver threaded embroidery were famous.

My great grandfather and my grandfather never wore any colour except white salwar kameez and black coat in their entire life time.

Fine silk, Pashmina and cotton were used in abundance. Women loved gold ornaments and almost each girl or lady owned many tola (a measurement of gold in British time India) of gold.

As the area was very cold with extreme winters most families were non vegetarian. But women were prohibited to consume any meat product. So men used to eat meat whereas women ate only vegetarian food. Men used to drink wine to keep themselves warm and women when got ill were given one tea spoon of barandi as medicine.

Three elder sisters of my grandfather were married within Mansehra district. The eldest one was Kundan devi married to Duni Chand Sahni. Second Parmeshwari married to Moti Ram Sahni. Third one was Ganga Devi married to Babu Ram Anand. All were married at a very early age. All three were very dominating and used to interfare a lot in their parents house.

Places of worship were Gurdwaras and Temples. Education was provided in campus of Gurudwara.

To be continued…

Autobiography

To Be Remembered…

My father was named Harmaheshwar (A name of Shiv) by his family. The naming ceremony of boys born in Khukhrain clan is done in Gurudwara by bhaiji, a person who recites Gurugranth Sahib. He opens a page of Granthsahib and name the child with first letter of opening shalok. Then any elder of the family decides the name starting with the same letter. This ritual is still followed. The day is celebrated with enthusiasm followed by grand lunch.

My father remembers the beautiful place of his birth and his home there. He still finds himself mesmerized by the natural beauty of Shinkiari. He has a clear remembrance of his home there. According to him it was a very big house. Room of his parents was bigger than other rooms. A large ‘varenda’ or ‘bramada’ as they called it (open area inside house in middle) was also there. There were many rooms including a drawing room. There used to be a hearth or fireplace in the drawing room where all members of family used to sit together to keep them warm during winters.

Vegetables were fresh. Milk, butter, ghee were used in abundance. Kitchen was no less than a big room. Where food used to be cooked and served as well. People used to sit on ground on handwoven round colourful jute mats called ‘phandiyan’, while eating. They used to eat with hands. Utensils used were of brass mostly. They were heavy and all yellow in colour. Glasses were big and heavy used to called ‘chudi wale glass’. Food was cooked on Angithi or chulaha. There were no gas stoves or kerosene stoves in house. Ladies of house used to do all household chores themselves. The ashes of coal were used to clean utensils and it actually cleaned so well that utensils used to shine like gold after cleaning. There were no taps in the house. Water was brought from chashmas(water fall) or lakes nearby.

My grandfather was intelligent man. He had keen interest and deep knowledge about politics. He used to read urdu newspaper. My grandmother was even sharper than him. She used to teach my father herself. She had an inclination towards further studies but at that time especially in orthodox punjabi families girls were not allowed to study or go to school after marriage. My grandmother was more intelligent and educated than any other lady of her inlaws house. Alongwith wisdom she was one of the most beautiful girls of that town. According to her elder sister people used to appreciate even her ankles when she used to walk out of the house as that was the only body part visible since women at that time used to stay covered from head to toe. They did ‘parda’ or ‘ghooghat’ from elder male members of the family even inside the house.

My grandfather loved her so much that he never allowed her to go to her parents home to spend even one night. At rare occasions when she visited them, she used to cry a lot. She felt suffocated in orthodox environment of my grandfather’s house. Her side was much liberal and educated. Her first cousins were in high ranked government jobs. One was a Navy Officer too. Her own elder sister Shanti Devi lived a much better liberal life even after losing her husband. She came back at her parent’s home and was fulfilling her dream of studying further. I wish my grandmother was allowed to study further. After my father another son was born at my grandparents home in 1946 my father‘s younger brother.

To be continued…

Some pictures of Shinkiari and Mansehra district

Shinkiari tea garden

Mansehra Rock Edicts (Fourteen rock edicts of Ashoka inscribed on three rock boulders)

Photo Credits: google images and Pinterest

Autobiography

Flow Of Life…

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Hello Friends! Resuming my writing here after a long break.

Looking back is not always that easy. While I was writing about my ancestors journey, my own journey took a dreadful turn. Not going to write about it here. Let’s start back from where we left…

Without going in much detail and to cut it short. My great grandfather had Three sons and five daughters from his marriage. My grandfather was named Makhanlal Kohli. Maybe because he was very fair with red cheeks and his heart was soft like butter. He was eldest of all sons and was born after three sisters. He was pampered and loved by whole family. He married my grandmother Vidhya Devi (later changed to Mohini after marriage due to her beauty) at age of seventeen years in 1943. She was a very beautiful girl from Nawan Shehr near Abbottabad (now in Pakistan). She was second child of her parents. Mr Gyan Chand Anand her father was also a businessman. Her elder sister was Shanti Devi Sahni and younger brother was Bal Kishan Anand. She was just one year younger than my grandfather. Both took education till class eighth, which used to be a higher class of that time. Though Shanti Devi who lost her husband at very young age just after one year of marriage continued her study till tenth standard and did teacher‘s training after that. She had no child of her own and was a dedicated teacher. She was nominated for best teacher award later in 1985. Which she received from President Gyani Zail Singh. She played a great role in our family and my life.

My grandfather and his three elder sisters got married in Pakistan. Two younger brothers and two younger sisters were unmarried till partition of India-Pakistan. After an year of their marriage my grandfather became father at age of just eighteen years. My father was their first born child. He was born in 1944. He too was very adorable to both side of his maternal and paternal families, being first child of next generation in both the families. He was born on first of January in 1944 in Shinkiari , Mansehra, Pakistan. The glow, shine and beauty of that area born people could still be seen on his face.

To be continued…

My great grandfather and great grandmother Mr Sadh Ram Kohli and Mrs Uttam Devi Kohli

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Autobiography · Uncategorized

Back To The Roots…

I was born in a big Indian punjabi family as a first child after two years of my parents marriage. Our family was a big joint family. My grandfather Mr Makhanlal Kohli was fourth child and eldest son of the family. My great grandfather Mr Sadh Ram Kohli belonged to Shinkiari which was in Hazara district near Mansera & Abotabad (now in Pakistan) in North West frontier provience region.
Most families here were punjabis and belonged to ‘Khukhrain Biradari’ a special cast of punjabis with almost twelve sub castes in it. Language of people here was punjabi but it was a very soft and high version of Punjabi.
Men and women of Shinkiari used to be very beautiful with sharp features.There were no schools here and children used to go to madrasas or in gurudwaras for learning. Where ‘Bhaiji’ a kind of priest of gurudwara used to give them basic knowledge. The language taught here were Urdu and Punjabi.
This was a very beautiful hill station full of natural scenic views with lots of streams which in local language villagers used to call ‘chashma’. Seprate streams were used by men and women for bathing.
Most of the time the village was covered with snow. During those months locked inside their homes women used to weave shawls and large bed spreads known as Bagh. The bright colours of embroidary were very attractive and eye catching. It was used in auspicious functions and was also given to a girl as gift at the time of her wedding.
My great grandfather lost his parents at a very young age of twelve years.Being an orphan now, he then started working for Ghanshyam Das and Saran Das two brothers who were big contractors of that area. Britishers ruling India used to give them contracts of forest clearance. My great grandfather was a very honest and trust worthy employee. He won the trust and hearts of Das brothers.
Once these brothers fell into trouble. They cut more trees then ordered by officers. As a punishment they got two years imprisonment. While they were in prison my great grandfather took good care of their business. With his hard work he took the business to new heights.
After their return the Das brothers found a flourished business and were very impressed by my great grandfather’s honesty. Out of love and reward they helped him to start his own business. He started his general merchant shop and soon with his dedication and hard work he managed to get its branches and two other shops of cloth business.
At the age of 28 he felt the need to get married and married an orphan girl of a village near Rawalpindi. She had two siblings a sister Sita devi and a brother Harikishan. My great grandfather took good care of both of them too…
Just as per his name he was a very simple, honest and big hearted man. He was very generous and kind too. Anyone who used to visit their village for business had to accept hospitality of my great grand parents. They used to provide free meals to even strangers, who used to come to that village. Haveli (a very big house) of Kohli’s was famous for its hospitality and generosity.
To be continued…
Uncategorized

Many Moons Ago…

Yes, I remember it was a summer night. Year and month I don’t remember very clearly. I was almost six or seven at that time but not too sure.We all, my parents, my younger sister and me were sleeping at terrace of my maternal grandmother’s home. It was a very big house in a big building, where six families were inhabited. All six families were very close had warm relations with each other. During summers everyone used to sleep on terrace which was very spacious and big. We all were lying on cots. Adults were chatting, youngsters were talking, sharing jokes with a laugh. Everyone was happy and full of life. Those were days when people knew how to socialise in real sense.
After a couple of hours the loud talks reduced to murmurs. My father used to tell me and my sister bed time stories every night. They were actually lessons of history and from mythological Indian books, which he used to tell us without reading, making it very interesting. He was narrating some story that night too and I was listening while watching stars and moon above, something I used to do without fail every night.
Suddenly I lost the track of what he was telling and lost in the stars. Suddenly Stars started growing in size and became very huge. My background became blur and after a few seconds everything vanished from my sight. WOW!!! I was flying in universe but without my body. All alone! I was Colourless! Weightless! Formless! Slowly even stars and moon started disappearing. Now there was no up or down, no front or behind, no here and there,no end or beginning, no space or time, no direction, no colour nothing! Almost nothing and I was part of universe without even feeling that universe or feeling anything. There was a peace surrounding all over, inside and outside, though there was no inside or outside. I was one with it all, without any end or beginning, yet could feel my formless form, my shapeless shape. It is not easy to describe in words what I experienced. There was some mystic music flowing. That was a magical, mystical experience! It was state of NOTHINGNESS!
That is the only word I could describe it in. I don’t remember exactly how long I stayed there to experience it, as it was beyond time and space. Beyond senses and their perception. Beyond the mind and it’s boundaries. Beyond everything yet it was a completeness. I wish I could dwell there forever but I had to come back to share this precious experience many years later through this blog with some chosen ones! With you all and I believe there is a purpose behind it too, a grand one though we are unable to decode it yet but there is a purpose!
When I returned back to this illusionary world I felt a jolt, a current. My father was still narrating the story. I was too numb and speechless to utter a single word. I could feel the force of gravity and weight of my body. I wanted to go back in that Nothingness. The surroundings and every little murmur and other sounds felt like great noise to my ears. My own body weight seemed unbearable now. I was in cage again. I wanted to experience that freedom forever. I wanted to taste that bliss once again! But all I could see now were stars and moon smiling back to me; as if asking me- “How was the ride? Shhhh! Keep this secret to yourself! “
I very strongly believe this experience was a hint or clue or glimpse from The Universe to me. Either I had been there in some previous birth or it was an invitation to come back home, showing some promo and telling me the aim and real destination of soul. Showing me the way to home or was it; itself a home? Still have to discover…
But after that experience I lost my art of meditation, forgetting it completely for many many years…I never shared this experience with anyone till few years back. Many magical and mysterious things kept occurring in my life from time to time and I am ready to share it all now…Still this was the biggest out of body experience till now. Who knows how many more secrets are there to unveil! May be this was just door of that mystical world and that realm that still waiting for us to explore has much much more…
To be continued…
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And The Story Begins…

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Every life starts with a cry and every cry validates there is still life but every life deserves an end with smiles.

Till you are at peace and ready to accept the new beginnings and wave away endings of some endeavours with smile the journey should go on…

That journey between first cry and last smile is what life is all about!

I cried first time in this life on 2nd of August 1972. Hey! don’t even think I’m too old, since I’m not. Haha…I still live in my twenties or early thirties in my mind and heart. ‘Age is just numbers’- someone told me. I agree with this statement. Our thinking or I should say progressive thinking decides how old we are mentally and it sometimes reflects on physical appearance too.

So I cried like a baby with noise only in my early childhood days after that I grew up in a very calm and quiet person. There was some inner maturity inside even when I was two years old, that I still remember very clearly. I was not like other kids of my age. I was blessed with wisdom, which helped me recognise the difference between right and wrong even at that young age.

Universal mysteries were my great curiosities. I sensed at that innocent age of three that some bigger, magical force is there which is working all the time. Many times at night I felt someone is watching me from that enormous bright star lit sky. Before the birth of my younger sister who was born two years three months later, my true friends were stars, sky and its unsolved mysteries. Which was quite unusual for a child of that age.

I started practicing meditation at age of two without knowing that it was an advanced stage meditation. I still remember I used to sleep with radio on at my bedside listening songs (I had a great inclination towards music since childhood) and after switching it off I used to practice thoughts control process, wondering why my mind can’t be shut just like this radio. Where are control buttons of our mind. Then I used to try to go thought less for a few seconds. This went on till I reached age of 6 or may be 7. This was my secret as a child. More for since as a baby I was unable to explain it to anyone. I was wise inside my mind but explaining it to adults was not an easy task for me.

Then after practice of many years I reached the stage to go deep in it and then one night the magic happened…

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Prologue 

Today I feel free of attachments. There is a kind of freedom which I never felt before. This gives me liberty to speak about my life journey, it’s ups and downs, fun and secrets. Using all spices of my life I am ready to serve this crispy yet simple life story. Let’s begin…