It was the year 1986. My grandpa, who was then working as a GM in Modi Textile Mills, got shifted to the Punjab Spinning & Weaving Mills, Bathinda, for a year.
C-6, Civil Lines– this was the address of our bungalow in Bhatinda. It had a huge white gate, which was carved with white flowers that had red dots in between. Surrounded by three kinds of gardens viz. a rose garden in the front, a kitchen garden on the right hand side, and a huge lawn lined with daisies and pomegranate trees in the backyard, it used to give three amazing looks from the three sides.
A long gallery in front of the gate led to the garage where grandpa’s two ambassadors used to sit; a gray one and a white one. The white one used to take grandpa to office and the gray one was meant for personal use, i.e., for us.
A couple of security guards and servants were provided to us. I remember them all..
Jeet singh, the main security guard, was THE leader. Always armed with a big gun and an equally big smile, he used to guard the house with great panache.
Meetha Singh, the eldest of them all, used to sit at the second gate of our house. His sweet voice, as sweet as his name was, used to welcome us at that gate.
Darshan Singh, our driver, was the youngest one and the shy one too. I used to easily bribe him and leave for school in grandpa’s white car. Dunno how many times he’d had to bear grandpa’s scolding because of me.
Kartar Singh, Jeet Singh’s subordinate, used to replace Jeet Singh when he didn’t used to be around. He was more of a body guard for me, assisting me to wherever I used to go. He used to take me to a nearby park daily and used to teach me how to ride the bicyle. I remember the times when I used to land inside the thorny rose bushes while riding and he used to pick me up in his arms and sing a song to stop me from crying.
Shamsher Singh was the person who used to do the dusting and polish our shoes. I never used to let him polish mine and he always used to be afraid of getting a scolding from grandpa for not doing it. He was the one who taught me how to get the "Cherry Blossom" shine on the shoes without even applying the polish.
Ranjeeta, the cook, was the sweetest of them all. She used to make great paranthas with loads of ghee. I used to demand paranthas of different shapes and sizes– a triangle one, a square one, an oval one; she used to make them all. In the evening, she used to teach me punjabi and I used to teach her english.
Tirkha Singh, our gardner, was the silent one. He used to reply to most of the things with a smile or some flowers. Each morning, he used to give me a bunch of roses, which I used to give to my class teacher. On weekends, he used to collect some red roses and get some ‘gulukand’ made for me by his wife, Preetam Kaur.
It wasn’t the three of us– grandpa, grandma, and I, who constituted the family; it was constituted by ALL of them. They were great people with great hearts, who’ve left an indelible mark in our hearts. I love them all!