A son seeks JUSTICE for his father
'On August 26, 2006, this man was killed in cold blood. His face was smeared with mud and his clothes were torn off. He was kicked and boxed in the chest which broke his ribs and punctured his lungs. I saw his body the next day at the mortuary - it had gone blue'
My father, in his last moments, dishevelled and helpless, stood five feet eleven; robust and smartly turned out. A romantic at heart and a philosopher, he never left his house without his prized possessions - his Rayban sun glasses and his Cross Gold pen. These were the only luxury items he indulged in.
He would clean his car himself after his two-km morning walk. The car always looked like as though it just rolled out of a showroom. He had bought it so that I don't feel inferior to my friends in my school.
He was a migrant from Pakistan, who left his home like millions others in 1947, and made Ujjain his home. He was just five years old then and had lost his father in the riots. A self-made man, he worked as a time-keeper in the Public Works Department while studying for his doctorate. He had to look after a family comprising two younger brothers and an ailing mother.
Though he studied in Hindi medium throughout, his knowledge of English literature was admirable. He made efforts to learn English on his own. However, he would always pronounce Zee TV as Jee TV. When I ventured to correct him, he would answer with a smile, "Old habits die hard."
He sent me to one of the best residential schools of the country and would never forget to come for my house evenings, annual days and other functions. His reason to come for them was the delicious samosas served with the evening tea, he would say. But, now I know that he came for me alone. Every time he visited me, he would definitely bring a bar of milk chocolate.
On my first day in college, he especially came to Delhi to see me off. And, he gifted me a tailored shirt and a trouser, proud that I would be studying to be a graduate. In his times, passing the matriculation examination meant a lot. Interestingly, I was the only one dressed like an executive in my college that first day - everybody else was sporting a jeans. When he got to know this, he laughed no end at himself. That was one of the many things I admired about him - his courage to laugh at himself and then give it a poetic touch or narrate an amusing anecdote. He knew Kabir, Rahim, Ghalib and many more by heart.
When I decided to enrol in a film school, he did not know how to react. From what he had seen of life in theatre, film and art, it meant a pauper's life of struggle. But, he didn't discourage me. He said, "Hamare khandaan mein kabhi kisi ne film nahi socha hoga, chalo tum hi sahi (Nobody in our family have thought of films, you would be the first)." He himself was a great actor and had worked with the likes of MK Raina in plays like Inna Ki Awaz.
When I got my first job, he quietly asked me one evening if I would like a drink. The first drink I had was with my father. He treated me more as a friend than a son. One could discuss with him anything under the sun - religion to sex - anything.
When people asked him about my job, he would answer with his characteristic sense of humour, "Pata nahi sahab kya karta hai, magar mujhse paise nahi mangta (Don't know what the gentleman does, but he doesn't ask me for money)".
He loved kids. He was the most popular uncle in the neighbourhood and he had a never-ending supply of chocolates to give them.
When he came to visit me in the June of 2006, I offered him a holiday in London with me. A smile lit his face. He had never been abroad but he refused to go saying "perhaps in the next incarnation".
On August 26, 2006, this man was killed in cold blood. His face was smeared with mud and his clothes were torn off. He was kicked and boxed in the chest which broke his ribs and punctured his lungs. I saw his body the next day at the mortuary - it had gone blue. His eyes were static looking into oblivion.
For this man, I demand justice.
An open letter by Himanshu Sabharwal, son of Prof HS Sabharwal