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…

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