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…