Dalip Singh Wasan
My father and my grandfather both were killed during the riots of 1947 partition of Hindustan and we reached this side, which is called Bharat and were accommodated in different refugee camps. I was just of about 10 years old and had completed just class three. The state formed on this side had been looking after us, but it is on record that I could not be sent to school till the year 1952 and I had been engaged as apprentice as domestic servant, as servant at a hotel, as servant in shops and ultimately I was adjusted as helper with a carpenter. In the year 1952, I was staying with my mother, two younger brothers and one younger sister in Destitute Home Sangrur, Punjab.
Tears and Toil
I was about 15 and at work with a carpenter. One day my carpenter sent me to a house located near Dhoori Gate, Sangrur. When I was marking the wall with the help of a scale, a small girl of about 18 started looking at me. She was surprised to note that I, a rough boy could read marks on the scale. She just asked,: Can you read the marks at the scale?” and my reply was,” Yes I had passed the 3rd class when we were forced to shift to this side.” and without waiting further, she wrote a math – problem on a paper and asked me to solve that problem. The question was that a room is of this length, this breath, the size of the brick was given and I was asked to work out the area of the room, the number of bricks which shall be used and when I solved that question within seconds, I also said,” If you give me rate of bricks, I can work out the total expenditure and could add the labour charges too.” When she saw all this, she stood up and while jumping and crying,” This boy is educated too, this boy is educated too” and reached kitchen where her mother was standing.
Both the ladies came back and the mother started questioning me. I was giving an answer to each question and when the whole inquiry was completed, both were weeping and were cleaning their eyes. The mother told me to bring my mother to her so that I could be put in a school to start education left in 1947.
When I was returning to the workplace, I passed through Dhoori Gate where a Board was hanging and writing on the board was- Admission from 1st to 8th open. I did not know Hindi and Punjabi and the Board was in the Punjabi language. I had been given instructions in Urdu while in Pakistan and the only knowledge of Punjabi given to me by Bhai ji in Pakistan enabled me to read the board. I was just trying to read the board clearly when a boy from the inside of the school came and asked,” Would you like to get admission in this school?” The school was running in name and style Lajpat Rai High School. The boy had gone to the side and I was trying to run away because my clothes, my naked feet, my naked head and torn underwear was giving a different site which was not a fit case of admission in the school. I went under a fear that now some boys shall be coming out and all shall laugh at me and shall make a fool of me. I was even ready to merge in the earth, but before I could decide finally, the boy returned with an old man and with some boys and the old man took me inside the school and they once again asked me to tell the whole story of mine from 1947 till that date. And when I completed the story, I saw all present were weeping. And the teacher asked me to which class I should be admitted? My simple reply was, ” seventh class sir.” Ultimately Master Khushi Ram ji of Sangrur got me admitted in 7th class and he had been teaching me in the evening for the remaining part the academic year and ultimately I stood first in the class in the annual examination. And when the result was pronounced, my teacher, Master Khushi Ram ji pronounced that this boy could have passed matriculation examination, had he been in 10th class.
These three-four people the girl, her mother, the boy who noticed me first in front of the school, the teacher Master Khushi Ram ji, the teacher master Gulati are on my mind and today they are like saints to me, saints who changed my life.
(The writer is a lawyer)