THE news about the passing away of Principal Bhupinder Singh was shocking. Bhupinder battled for survival for months. The sad incident took me down the memory lane, 52 years ago. In 1969, while pursuing my master’s in Botany at Punjabi University, Patiala, in front of my hostel, I saw a Sardarji, a known face. Tapping his back, I asked, ‘Are you from Government College, Chandigarh?’ ‘Yes, but who are you?’ We got talking. I questioned his presence there in the scorching heat of June. ‘I got a compartment in BSc and Panjab University’s regulations don’t permit me to pursue MA (English), but I have been admitted to this university,’ he responded.
He told me that he could not get a room in the hostel, so he was going to try his luck somewhere else. ‘No dear, tomorrow I am proceeding to Mussoorie on my educational trip, please be comfortable in my room,’ I told him. He happily agreed.
I could never imagine that this momentary meeting would change the course of life of a person on the road who was actually destined to be the principal of a reputed Government College in City Beautiful. After teaching English for a short period at Government College, Hoshiarpur, Bhupinder was absorbed in the UT cadre in the Government College for Men, Chandigarh. He never looked back and excelled in teaching, poetry recitation and photography as a hobby. He ultimately retired as the Principal, Government College of Commerce and Business Administration, Chandigarh.
After retirement, Bhupinder, a bachelor, became a known figure in the social arena of Chandigarh. Any function, anywhere, he was there with a sophisticated camera on his shoulder and a pleasant smile. This transformed man now called himself ‘a video-blogger’. With a grip on the English language and expertise in photography, he became a renowned figure. The sudden attack of multiple diseases overpowered the zeal of this self-made man and he remained bed-ridden for a long time, without a soul to look after him.
Now I think, had Bhupinder and I not met on the road, perhaps his journey of the last 50 years would have been totally different, but it was destined to be so. When he was cremated, not even four came to lift his body, despite over 3,000 friends on Facebook. Alas, all the time he would be counting the number of likes and comments on his Facebook wall. Sad that despite being financially well endowed, he met an end that reflected the other extreme of life.
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