To be born in a condition of want and struggle is not a crime… to stay in a state of need forever is unpardonable though….
What life gives you is not your choice what you make of it is entirely up to you. He was born in a time of relatively meagre resources, to put it mildly. His father was a constable in the UP police and from what little I do know of his life he was not corrupt, besides it was not exactly the time and place where extortion was a source for additional income. Anyway he was posted in Azamgarh a place notorious for gangsters and dacoits. To keep ones head and to raise three children (later three more as my grandads brother passed away and and those kids became his responsibility as well). I shudder to think how he managed to raise six children on a constables salary.
What I do know through multiple accounts from many different people who have known my dad since he was a child are stories of struggle and the sheer brilliance that this man has been. He lost his mother when he was barely 5 years old. That in itself would have broken any child. He carried on bolstered by the responsibility of bringing up a baby sister and supported by an always supportive elder brother. I’ve heard stories of how even when they were that young they had mastered cooking and not just daal and rice (maggi sadly was not an option back in the 50s), of how one child would cook one of the veggies the other would make the rotis. Of how raw jaggery used to be something he absolutely relished (and lost all his milk teeth to with almost none of them falling off naturally rather decaying and getting pulled out prematurely)… it seems he used to wake up in the middle of the night, sneak over to the vats of raw gur dip his hand into the vat and eat as much as he could, then sleep off content… no one to urge him to brush his teeth before sleeping or wash his hand either… things we usually would not realize since we have all, mostly, grown up with a mother who is up the moment the child stirs and does not go back to sleep till the child is safely tucked back in.
The grandad could have remarried, brought home another wife and handled the fall out of having to manage the children without a mother. He was made of stronger stuff, he took the responsibility and shouldered it with the strength that is rare to see anymore, never remarried. My dad was, as a result of the abject hopelessness of the situation, pretty resourceful and by all accounts he was an exceptional scholar. He apparently refused to go to school once, per his own recounting of the incident, and received such a hiding from his dad that never again did he bring up the topic again. The school was apparently far away, had no benches or chairs and the boys didn’t have any means to get there apart from having to walk/run. He topped the State Board exams studying from that school. The story of giving the exam is also pretty interesting. He was suffering from typhoid and running a very high fever almost to the point of being delirious and his dad, my granddad, ferried him to and from the exam center on a bicycle.
After coming out top of his class and being a UP Board topper he went on to do his engineering from the Aligarh Muslim University where he was on a full scholarship. Needless to say he was an outstanding scholar at the Engineering college as well. In fact to this day the record for highest marks ever scored by any student at the AMU final exams stands in his name, there’s a plaque somewhere at the University. Almost 50 years and no one could do it. To think he came from a village that still, to this day, has spotty electricity supply and is still considered to be a hotbed of hot heads and gangsters. He did not appear for the UPSC exam to try and join the IAS because, and this is a funny one, he had already topped the IRSEE and was on his way to LBSNAA (among other institutes around the country) to train to be the future engine of the Indian Railways… he just needed one job to be able to marry his college sweetheart, my mother, and the Railways was first and it was enough.
Effortless excellence on the surface and satisfaction beyond understanding (of ordinary mortals) with what you have are two qualities worth emulating. He never played the office politics game to advance his career. He was too busy paying utmost attention to his work and children. And yet in all of Indian Railways he was known as Gandhiji. Why? He threw out every contractor, vendor who landed up trying to bribe their way into any contract. I remember once someone from Crompton Greaves landed up at our home… I had opened the door and taken the visiting card inside… we were excited looking at the mithaii ka dibbas and then came loud noises followed by kicking out of the contractor. There goes good Diwali mithaii… of course he made up for it by taking us to Tunday Miyan for kabab parathas!!! Handling contracts upwards of 3000Cr did not happen to every officer in the Indian Railways. He was doing that from a very early date. And yet when he retired his sons had to help fund the purchase of the land and the construction of a retirement home because full and final settlement would happen after retirement and he was not going to stay in his official bungalow for one minute more than his tenure. Not enough time to build the house after retiring! Ofcourse he paid it all back afterwards, he’s got style you see.
A truly self made man who achieved more than anyone I know. He came close to being the Chairman Railway Board, the only reason he did not make it, well let’s just say the minister was asking for money he did not have and even if he did he would never give. There are wheels within wheels and it’s best to say some circuses are worth avoiding. Said minister (of that time) has recently been let out after a stint in jail on corruption charges. Karma catches up every single time. There is no ill feeling towards anyone on that account though one often wonders how would it be if the world were to be fair.
So yes, this is #HamareAbbaJaan. I am not sure whether the person looking to lead the most populous and fourth largest (by area) state of our country has a father or not, surely he must, maybe just the respect is missing. Clearly he has no respect for fathers is what comes through from what he has tried to insinuate yesterday at an election rally. Fathers make this nation, not people who have run away from their wives and worldly responsibilities. Alas we have become so blind in our religion based hate that now we will use language and relationships for our divisive agendas. I hope better sense prevails and the great leader realizes his mistake because fathers, as much as I know, rarely say much to their kids however they make the child what he or she is through leading by example and disciplining a child who errs is not as much about using the stick. Fight elections as much as you want just try and avoid bringing in your own troubled childhood and deeply seated angst towards your own father then projecting it on to the rest of the population. I wonder why the most powerful political party is repeatedly making the same mistake, earlier it was “Didi-O-Didi” and now “Abbajaan”. I guess it’s all well, good riddance to bad rubbish.