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Today, I take this opportunity and platform to share my love for my maternal grandfather, my nanu, whom I used to call PAPAJI.

Words are less to express his grandeur, but I will try my best with the faint memory that I have.

After partition, Papaji settled self and family at Lajpat Nagar, New Delhi from Lahore and took his last breath in the same house of B-58 Amar Colony in 2003.

Everyone is aware of the stories of 1947. With no money at hand and big family to look after, he survived all the hardships of nature and humans. He was a man of ethics and principles, hence in no way ever took free favors from anyone. Slowly, he lifted himself from zero.

He believed in simple living and high thinking and actually practiced what he said or taught others. He kept his promises and never deterred away from his words. I remember him wearing only Safari Suits and Turban.

He was very spiritual, loving and compassionate at heart. He always used to get up at 4am (Amrit vela) in the morning all seasons without fail, take bath and go to prayer room and do paath (Read “prayers”). He had Sri Guru Granth Sahib (Holy Book of Sikhs) at home and used to follow all the rituals and procedures according to the Sikh custom. That includes reciting nitnem, doing Chauris, changing rumalas to Sukhasana, giving us prashad and amrit as well. We used to call it mini gurudwara.

He was very knowledgeable and always used to discuss on any topic with facts and figures. His room was full of books on various subjects and he had a typewriter as well. My brother and I were very fond of typing and whenever we used to visit him during our summer vacations, typing was our best time pass. The sound of kitkit katkat of typewriter keys was amazing. 

He had made me special in all whatever I have done, uplifted me whenever I was low, encouraged me whenever I was doubtful and pepped me whenever I was scared. He was full of zeal and enthusiasm. With kids, he was kid and with elders, he was elder.

I remember him giving us pocket money every day whenever we were with him. Re.1 to me and Rs.2 to my brother as he is elder to me. When I graduated to my brother’s age, it was Rs.2 for me and Rs.5 for him, later and last was Rs. 5 for me and Rs.10 for my brother. Once, my mummy said, “It’s okay if you don’t give them (us) pocket money”. To that he replied never to say that and he wanted to see where and how do we spend our money. WOW!

He never failed to write letters to us, some typed and some handwritten. In English for us, in Punjabi for my mumma and papa and in Urdu for my Dadu (Grandfather). I have saved the letters addressed to me in a folder which I named “The Treasury of Diamonds”. Because, for me, his every word was diamond. But, we had to give him reply for every letter he wrote without a miss. He used to send “Inaam” (cash prize of Rs100) through money order for good handwriting, good words and also for any smallest of school achievements.

Sharing some pictures of his letters on his printed letter heads. His name (S. Vir Singh) on left, address of house and date on the right.  Every letter head had printed in red “Nischae Kar Apni Jit Karoun”, a phrase by our tenth guru GuruGobindSingh, meaning Self-reliance. Always addressed me as Beti Parminder Kaur (my official name), Pyar Bhari Sat Sri Akal.

My papaji 1My papaji 2My papaji 3

He asked me to maintain a notebook of thoughts by great people across globe and spiritual thoughts whenever I come across through reading somewhere. I used to write quotes whenever something nice crossed my eyes. He purchased a notebook, covered it, wrote few quotes and presented it to me. Please see below.

My papaji 4My papaji 5My papaji 6

I had a weak memory of one of his picture (extreme left in his safari suit) with Gyani Zail Singh (at centre), which he had proudly showcased in his room. 

My papaji 7

If anyone asked his age, he used to say “I am young of 80 years”. Always sat erect and ate slowly (he used to say chew your food until it becomes milk in your mouth). He was very fond of watching news.

He was friend to his daughter that is my mother and used to tell her “Baby (my mother); I have nothing to give you after I die except for my books and Sri Guru Granth Sahib. I will write those in my will for you. Please take them then”. After my mummy, I have nicely preserved them at my papa’s house.

During his last days, he could not recognize anyone of us.  And his last word was “BEYOND”.

I pray for that beautiful soul and thank almighty for everything.

Thank you.

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Ritu Om Chatterjee

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