Remembering VS Ahalawat -Thank God For Fake News !!

Late yesterday night , Sangeeta got a message  .The message was doing its rounds on a whattsap group of some Rai students and teachers.I am not a part of the group , but one of teachers phoned up Sangeeta and asked her “cud you ask Sir(me) ,to confirm  whether it was true that Sir VSA has passed away.

The moment Sangeeta asked me the question – my mind was numbed and my heart missed several beats.Everything seemed to blank out.I started asking her questions of no relevance

 “ who phoned you” ?, “who told her”, ?, “what did she say”.?In retrospect , if I had my mind under control , I would have just picked up my cellphone and found out about the news from my several reliable contacts.

But my mind was not in control.Why ?Who is VSA ?

VSA is short for Virender Singh Ahlawat .VSA and me joined on the same day at the Rai school.We were interviewd  the same day – one after the other. Before he went in ,he asked me “ Is Durrand Line the line that divides Pakistan from Afghnisthan” ?

“Yes”, I answered .

“Are you sure”? he asked again.

“Yes , yes , yes , yes” I answered with a smile.He dissappered.I could not understand why he was so sure that the interview panel would ask him about the Durrand line.He was being interviewed for the post of a Geography master.He got selected hands down.

When he came out , I asked him whether they had asked him about the Durrand line.He said no

When I asked him further as to why he kept on confirming about confirming about the same  , he replied that he had a intuition that they would ask him about the line !!!I always teased him about his intuition for the 13 years we taught together .

VSA came from the “garh”, of Jatland – Rohtak.He came from a village called “Gocchi” in the Beri tehsil- which is one of the largest tehsils in Haryana.

We were inseparable.Sometimes when I look back as to what united us , it is not difficult to find the answer.After all , we were poles apart – I came from a missionary school , had parents who spoke English at home , listened to western music , came from a town founded by Britishers ,wore jeans and long hair ,played cricket ,had travelled the world , ate food with fork , knife !And here was someone who studied in a government school , had a penchant for speaking in Haryanvi, ate with his hands , loved rotis and “looni” ghee , was a university footballer ,sang Hindi songs and listened to the music set by Lakhmi Chand.He preffred wearing kurtas and pyjamas as a casual wear.

The answer is simple – we were both bachelors who joined the same day.He (VSA ), is a man with a heart of gold, and he had the sensitivity that I might be feeling out of place in the new environs that my destiny had brought me to.He took a instant liking towards me – and we soon realized that if you strip human beings of what they acquire – then the basics are what attracts , or repels them.VSA had his basics clear – he told me once “ We Jats never attack even our enemies without telling them.There is no deception in us.What we are – we are”!

That summed up the relationship.It was built on trust.Any relationship built on trust – is for keeps.And it gets better if you drink together and have food at dhabhas together ( every second day we would be at Murthal )

He was a fabulous teacher.He had cut his teeth as a teacher in Sherubse Academy in Bhutan. His specialization was electoral geography and he knew the geographical constituency of each politician.He was amazingly networked with the politicians –

 

 I met Sampat Singh , Nirmal Singh, Dangi , at his house.He took me along and introduced me Bansi Lal , Om Prakash Chautala , Choudhary Rizk Ram ,Dharamvir Singh , Sushma Swaraj ,and many more.

I must narrate a tale here.Four of us bachelors once went for a picnic to the bird sanctuary at Sultanppur village on the Jhajjer Gurgaon road.VSA had a striking resemblace to the Minister in the Devi Lal government those days called Dr Raghuvir Singh Kadian.So striking , that it would be difficult to pick one from the other even from a close distance.He was well known to VSA , because he belonged to the same tehsil Beri !

It was early when we drove in – my car PNB 6 carried us there !!- and the moment we entered the resort , there was commotion.The  word went around Minister had arrived !!( single digit cars those days meant a VIP !!) To top it up – VSA was in his white kurta pyjama.One of the guys asked me as we got down 

“Mantri Mahoday haih”?

“Jee haahn”, i replied on the impulse and in fun!!

The fun that followed was unbelievable.We were treated like royalty , VSA played his role as a Minister to perfection ( asking leading questions on finance , occupancy , expansion etc ),I played my part as a political advisor  to the Minister , and our other two friends moved around with a sense of purpose and authority .We finally left – without paying the bills because the resort manager said that the government had given him “discretionary ” powers to entertain VIPs !!

There are hundreds of tale – but for another time.Back to from where it started.

I phoned up my dear student Dilbag Dahiiya who is well connected with the old Raist.

I tentatively asked him – and very diplomatically

“Dilbag, is it true that one of our old teachers from Rai has passed away”

“ Yes Sir”, he began.I heard my mind saying “NO, NO, NO”!

I did not speak , but Dilbags next words , though sad brought a sense of sanity.

“Sir Mr MS Gehlawat passed away”. MS Gehlawat was a dear friend as well – he taught Art in the school .Infact , I still have huge canvas which he painted specially for me when I was leaving Rai .RIP MS.

I picked up the phone and called up VSA- life had pulled me away from him for nearly 18 years The fake news jolted it back to action.We are old enough for it to be real !!

He picked up the phone and the unmistable voice – the voice of our youthful days said

“Hellooooow”

“Aur Chaudhry ,Ke haal se ? Ke Dhang se” ? I asked ( I always called him Chuadhry).I wondered whether he would ask “ Kaun”?

No fears – prompt came the reply

“Arrey Pandit, ………….”( he always called me Pandit ), and a big laugh !!The rest is a hour long conversation .

We have decided to meet in Rohtak next week !!!! My friend is fit , cycles 18kms as a form of exercise , has 3 pegs in a week(“ tere saath yeh rule koi naaa” re reminded me !!), and as witty and politically conscious as ever !!God bless him .Cheers.

 

 

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