MY FRIEND CHETANBIR !!!
Chetanbir Singh is just like any other ordinary individual for me. He does not have any attractive face. He looks like a typical sardar with pagri on head, grey hair and beard, bulky body with good height, he was a warm and jolly person in his late 50’s and he for me is a mast - jinda dil insaan.
My first meeting with this important character of my life was in our office canteen. Unfortunately I was in a table next to which Chetanbir was sitting, he came near me and asked me many questions, I replied what he asked me, although I had kept my distance to this stranger friend of mine, he end up paying the food bill giving the justification that he is senior to me in this office and it is the way to welcome a younger colleague in a new office.
From then on whenever I use to be in the Canteen I try to avoid Chetanbir Singh, as he use to pay the bill always giving justification in someway or other, at times this made me a little embarrassed. Therefore I choose better to avoid him if he is in the Canteen, but for Chetanbir he wants to be with his friends or people, which I may not be able to understand during that time.
But gradually I was attracted towards Chetanbir, as his characteristics always arises queries in my mind as to what kind of person he is although people in Media are rough and being a Sardar he is not expected to be so cool and jolly, rather he is much engrossed in building relationship, friendship and wanted to be with people around him.
As usual one evening being a news producer of my TV News Channel when I was in hurry to complete my programme I was giving final touch to my programme segments which needs full concentration and I was doing my work, just a desk before my desk Chetanbir Singh, was engrossed in a TV programme and was laughing loudly, which annoyed me very much and I went straight to him although being junior in age I told him to keep quiet, he agreed immediately saying Sorry! Sorry! Sorry! He became serious and left the place immediately as he felt that his behaviour had disturbed my work and me too much.
Even though I avoided him he came closer day by day because there is nothing in his mind although I was somehow polluted in mind. He wanted friends in his life but I had kept a fatwa for myself in choosing friends.
Inspite of the gap of age in between Chetanbir Singh and me was much, but his continuous efforts, finally born fruit and he was successful in making me one of his good friend.
He had a great respect for me although being younger to him, he use to call me Dada and I use to call him Baba.Anytime for any kind of help or suggestion he came straight to me or call me and I am also always there for him, I was actually attracted towards his sincerity and kindheartedness, and his interest in learning new things and reading books. I was the one who always suggested him good books on Media and which he religiously followed and whenever there is any query, I was there to solve them. His love, respect and faith in me developed with the course of time.
In the TV News Channel, for which we were working Chetan Bir Singh was a Cameraperson and his responsibility was floor or handling studio camera’s, being in the studio he was always to be found in the newsroom cracking jocks and laughing among the serious desk editors and producers in the Newsroom but was a dedicated worker, for which he was popular among all his colleagues.
Colorful turban with grey and black beard face with a powerful specs old designed soiled frames over his brightening eyes…also was his shirts and pants always remain untidy over his bulky body.
One day one of my colleague in the newsroom told me about Chetanbir Singh that although he looks jolly but there is a great pain in his life, although always busy with loads of works I hardly found any time to understand or feel what the pain in his life Chetanbir is carrying and never dare to ask him if he has any problem in his life.
If I get him somewhere near Canteen I use to avoid him, as by now he also knows that I don’t like his habit of paying the food bills always.
Whenever he was near me his presence made me feel him like the senior journalist Khushwant Singh, always khush in his own way but always there was query in my mind what pain he is carrying with a beautiful and brightening smile in his face. This continued and our friendship turned into a bonding.
I left Delhi for Kolkata leaving behind everything that I had acquired in 5 long years in Delhi. It was decided by my office administration in a single day that I’m going to Kolkata for an assignment but the assignment continued for six months and finally they ordered me to report my Kolkata Bureau office rather than my Delhi office.
One fine morning after probably three months Chetanbir Singh gave me a call from our Noida office and started fighting,that how come I had left Delhi without even informing him and even after passing away of so many days I had not called anybody and passed my new number to him.
As he cares for me, I found myself guilty, really it was my fault I had left Delhi, although I didn’t bother to inform my near and dear ones. But why he was so much bothered about my well being, the question was again raised by my polluted mind.
Although after a long talk we put our phone with a promise to keep continuing our good friendship, he repeatedly asked me if I need anything to be sent from Delhi…any help any favor he is there for me in Delhi…He was jindadil as always.
Again after a month I gave him a call to know about his whereabouts he was a little low, which is just opposite of his real nature, with suspicion I asked him is anything wrong in his life…He was silent…The company has sacked him for becoming old enough to work in 24/7 working environment, he told me, but saying this he kept on consoling me “don’t worry Dada I am a struggler and I’ll easily find something to carry on with my life” – he said hiding his pain. I encouraged him saying you are a knowledgeable person and any TV Channel can pick you up anytime. He found what he wanted from me after a long time, he was so happy that his joy found no words, he said to me.
As I am in Kolkata, he started sharing his happy days in Kolkata, one day he started his story of his association with Kolkata city. I was astonished to see his information about the city of joy. He said at a very early age he come down to Kolkata to stay with his childless maternal uncle and aunty in Behala near Behala Gurudwara, he has many Bengali friends and his craze for football in Maidan was still fresh in his mind. He was an average student in school, as most of the time he is busy playing football; he was the goalkeeper of his team “Behala Club”.
After completing his school in Behala he enrolled himself for a degree course with the Ashutosh College in Bhowanipur area of Kolkata. He completed his Graduation with flying colors and later joined a Multinational company in an executive position and within a short span of time young Chetan earning was good enough and he bought two flats in the heart of the city, one in Camac Street and another one at Russell Street with his good income and has put the flats on hire and earning from the flats goes to his old maternal uncle and his father. His jolly ness bought many people closer to him and for which he has many friends. Apart from many Sikh friends he had many Bengali friends and that’s why he is very well versed with the Bengali language. He exposed me that from the day one of our friendship, he while talking to me can visualize his memories and association with the Kolkata city and that’s why wanted to be with me maximum time in office.
Although his maternal uncle brought him up, his parents were in Delhi. His parents migrated from Pakistan during partition and had settled down in the Trilokpuri locality of Delhi with others refugees of the time. Apart from his parents, Chetanbir has an elder sister Kanwaljit Kaur, at an early age Kanwaljit was married of in Punjab, his elderly parents where lonely in their Delhi home, which was always a matter of concern for Chetanbir.
Therefore after establishing himself and settling down in Kolkata he went to Delhi in the year 1981 and marries a beautiful girl Manpreet Kaur, from Chandigarh and after a month stay in Delhi he left for Kolkata, keeping his wife with his elderly parents in Delhi to look after them. Just after a year of his marriage in the year 1982 Chetanbir was blessed with a beautiful baby girl. He was on the top of his world and he was so happy that he immediately travels to Delhi and throws a grand party.
It was the last big gathering of his life wherein his in laws his all relatives and each and every person of the Trilokpuri area was invited for the feast and with the beat of drums all young Sikh munda’s Chetanbir to have Bhangra.
After staying three happiest days in Delhi he comes back to Kolkata but for lonely Chetan in Kolkata, his life was full of life with the thought of the young one, with the passing of time Chetan is the happiest man in his own universe with the thought of his family and lovely daughter.
But history takes its turn and the ill fated day of his life came on October 31st, 1984 when the then Prime Minister of India Indira Gandhi was assassinated by two of her sikh bodyguards in the early hours of the Wednesday and the bloodshed followed from 1st of November.
On the third day of the famous Sikh riots, among the 3,000 Sikhs killed in the capital city only, were Chetanbir’s old father Sukhwinder Singh, who was butchered cold-bloodedly, along with his father his aged mother Harjeet Kaur’s throat slashed and his wife Manpreet was raped and killed later and the whereabouts of his little daughter is still unknown.
The ill fated news of his life Chetanbir got through a sardar friend who fled Delhi…Chetanbir’s happiness came to an end he left his job in Kolkata and immediately rushed to Delhi to find his world ransacked…the kind hearted sardar was almost mad, all the members of his family were dead, his home burned, seeing all this he decided to end his life, as nothing is left in his life, he made his way towards the bank of river yamuna, continuous flow of tears from the tall sardar’s eyes, he was determined to end his life, but with the hope of getting back his little daughter he give up this gravest idea of his life with the thought if show how his little daughter survives riot, as she is missing there is still some hope of her returning to him and in that case who will take care of her and for this he starts his search for her starts in Delhi. Delhi became cool day after day after 4 days of bloodshed. For the search of his daughter he decides to stay back in Delhi and for this reason he rented a room near Uttamnagar much safer place for Sikh’s in Delhi as his property in Trilokpuri lost and were already in the hands of local goons and hooligans and takes up some odd jobs for his survival, first he takes up a job with a vehicle workshop as mechanic attendant and then because of his education he gets into a a TV serial production house as camera attendant and then with the news channel as Cameraman, with his rich experience in the field.
He starts a new life with the hope of getting his beautiful baby daughter back, even after passing away of 25 long years he is still waiting for his daughter in the hope of getting a new life after finding her. He lives his life lively making friends and relations to be away from the devilish thought of his life. Although he lives his life lively although his heart is weeping somewhere and search for his daughter continues.