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…