Saturday, January 28, 2006
My father passed away in the early hours of Tues morning, 17th January 2006 at the age of 101 years. He was well known by all the grandchildren as "Baba Ji". The frequent cries (he was hard of hearing) "Sat Siri Akal Babaji!" by the grandchildren are no more. The void he leaves behind cannot be bridged, nor can we forget all that he has done for the family and community.
Born in Salempur, Jallandhar, he worked with the railways until he migrated to Tanzania (East Africa) in the early fifties. He was a prominent member of a thriving Sikh community there, especially active in promoting sikhism, gurbani and Punjabi. His discipline and dedication to reciting gurbani was immense. His daily nitnem (from memory, without gutka) included Asa Di Aaar, Sukhmani Sahib and Full Anand Sahib.
Our father was a pillar of strength, well known for his physical strength and fearless character. I remember clearly an incident about 5 years ago which illustrates his "tyar bar tyar" character. At that time he wasn't able to walk very well because of his knees, but on this sunny afternoon he insisted on going out. Knowing there was no stopping him once he had made up his mind, I decided to follow him at a discreet distance just in case he needed help. I had been following him for about five minutes when he suddenly swung his walking stick over his head backwards (must be a gakta move) and nearly knocked me down.
Afterwords I realised my shadow must have given me away, and he decided to deal with things in his own way. And this is when he was in his mid-nineties, hardly able to walk, with extremely poor eyesight!
Very few relatives of my fathers generation are still alive - with his passing away it feels like the end of an era. The most fitting tribute would be if I were to learn from his life, try and take on board some of the amazing qualities he had and become a better human being as a result.