My father was a tough and calm man, rarely smiling, always consumed in himself, and will look on with deep eyes. He never lets anyone else know if he is disturbed about anything. He will talk rarely and only when he felt it necessary.
I remember we were writing an essay on “my father”, in early English classes. We had set 15 lines like,My father’s name is XXXXXHe is a loving and dutiful person He is my best friend and bla…bla… I was getting 10/10 as I had mugged all lines. But If I send my present first two lines of “my father” to my same teacher, he will punish me with a long stick extended from heaven to earth.
My father was 6 to 9 men. Winter or summer or rainy season, he will get up at 6 AM and will sleep by 9 PM. Being an army personal, he was very much disciplined and most of the time on his postings, away from home station. My mother was taking care of me and my siblings.
In 1962, my father has to go far Sino-Indian war on the borders of China. India never suspected that China would ever launch an attack as there was a treaty of Peaceful Coexistence between India and China., famously called“Hindi-Chini Bhai-Bhai”. India was attacked in October 1962. Indian army never prepared for any offense by China. After some days one junior officer visited our house and informed us that my father was missing. The normal term used for a soldier killed in action is “battle casualty”.Missing means no confirmation if he is alive or dead as the body has not been found. We all were in shock.
But after two days another person informed us that my father along with the other three missing soldiers has come back and are safe. When my father came back, he told us, they lost the route in the jungle hills. Our army at that time was poorly organized without army gadgets. They were walking for two days without any food, and, communication. They luckily landed back in Indian territory some five mills away from their original post.
I could never assess if my father was religious. He never visited Gurudwara (Temple of sikhs), neither took us for religious functions. Only my mother was visiting Gurudwara regularly.
But I always heard him Chanting:
ਹਰ ਹਰ ਜਪੇ ਤਾ ਹਾਰੇ ਕਉ,(Har har jape ta hare kyo)
ਹਰਿ ਕਾ ਨਾਮ ਮਨੋ ਬਿਸਾਰੇ ਕਉ (Hari ka naam mano bisare kyo)
The nearest meaning I guess is “If you pray to God, you will never lose. Never forget God”
Indian parents have very high expectations for their children’s education and careers. But my father never imposed any condition on us. What we should study, where to study, how to study. he was illiterate, but don’t know how he will sense that I am not giving good time for my studies. If he will call me saying “Mister, how are you” means he is not happy with me. Adding “Mister” to his conversation means he is a little angry which was too much for us. When our school/college result comes, he will ask about our result. How he was knowing our results are out?. I think my mother was his informer and will leak details to him.
I remember once he asked me about my result. I said I got 68%. He said I don’t know what you are saying. Tell me if you are first-class or not. He never thought I can be below the first class.In 1971, he has to go to East Pakistan, now Bangladesh, in a war against Pakistan. After that successful venture of the Indian Army, he brought some books from Bangladesh Library. Two books which I read with great interest were ” The Third Reich” and “Exodus”.
What I concluded from my father’s journey that education is more important than qualification. Education makes all the difference in the quality of life of an individual, and this is something that needs no certification. Education can be informal also when people learn from their experiences and through their parents, peers, and others verbally or practically. Whereas Qualification is a certification that qualifies a person to apply for a job in a particular field or industry.
I think qualification is nothing but a receipt from school/college/University for having attended classes and replied correctly to questions. Say when you can correctly answer 1+1=2, you get a certification of LKG.(a+b) square you get a higher certification, and so on. But education is entirely different.
The difference between education and qualification is just like a square and a rectangle. Every square is a rectangle, but every rectangle is not a square. likewise, education is a part of the qualification, but qualification is not just education.
My father never was sick, nor ever I saw him hospitalized. He always maintained good health and followed strict discipline. After retirement, he maintained the same discipline and will sit on his cot in the verandah, will hear Songs (Kirtan) sung in the nearby temple (Gurudwara). He was enjoying his retirement time. He never thought of doing any job after retirement.One day I got a call in the morning that my father has expired due to a massive heart attack. He was never bedridden, nor he troubled anyone for support in old age. I think he chose a heart attack as, the best way to go back.
Soul went back from where it came.
Pritam Singh Obi