Stories About Men

Bhaaiyya ji: My Father, Bhai Sunder Singh ji

Sangat Singh

Born in 1933 in Dijkot, a small hamlet in district Lyallpur (now Faisalabad, Pakistan), I (Sangat Singh) came after about eight attempts, including miscarriages. I  grew up in Lyallpur as a  pampered child. At the age of five, I was sent to nearby one roomed primary school where spartan old Jute Hessian bags (borian) were used  for  mats.  I refused to study there, and was enrolled in Sacred Heart Convent School  for the next 9 years.  After getting his college degree in India, he moved to Singapore in 1954, and then to Malaysia in 1957, where, now a retired plantation manager, he lives with his wife.  More about him at this link.

Ed. note: A version of this article originally appeared at

It was 1931 or 1932. I was not born yet.

My two elder sisters, Bhenji Amar and Bhenji Beant, were getting married within a week's gap. The weddings took place in our own double-storeyed building that had the business end on the ground floor facing Karkhana Bazar in Lyallpur (pre-Partition Punjab). The two floors above were the residential quarters.

The façade prominently carried the names Bhai Jawaher Singh Sunder Singh. It was a common practice to have the grandfather's name in it. It was later when it became Bhai Sunder Singh &amp\; Sons.

Pitaji – An unschooled learned man

Bal Anand

Bal Anand was born in 1943, in a village about 20 km south of Ludhiana, in a family of saint-scholars who practised Ayurveda. Graduated from DAV College, Jalandhar, and did Master in English Literature from Govt. College, Ludhiana. After a stint for a few years as lecturer, joined the Indian Foreign Service. Served in nine different countries and retired as India's High commissioner to New Zealand. Now reading, reflecting and writing in nest in Greater Noida.

He was born, according to an authentic written record in the family, on Monday, August 30, 1920.

He was the Jayeshatha Saputtar - first born - of his parents. The various conversations among the elders of the family, which included my two most loving great-grandfathers and an adorably talkative great grand-aunt, called Bhua Ji by the entire village, often innocently overheard by me as a child of four-five years, had confirmed this to me. They mentioned that his father Dwarka Nand and his grandfather Giata Nand were also the first born of their parents. And So Am I - his son, now 73+ years according to the date of birth in my Matriculation Certificate. And so are our eldest son, Aditya and our six year old grandson, Antariksh!

Pray, don't misread this opening statement in any overtone of machismo or a parade of any gender bias.  It is nothing more than a humble mention of the facts of my family tree.

From 22 to 82

Gopal Guttal

Gopal Guttal retired as a High Court Justice in 1994 at the age of 62. After that he practiced law as a consultant/arbitrator for 12 years, and then took to writing poetry as a pastime. The journey along "the road not taken", that is to say, from the homeland of the intellectual yet prosaic land of law into the creative, lyrical rhyming and limitless sky of poetry has been as thrilling as it has been rewarding. He has to his credit a collection of poems Twilight Melodies. He lives in Mumbai with his wife, and continues to write poetry.

The Spring of Joy

She was seventeen
and was a teen
I was two and two
happy and thrilled too.

She stepped in to win
her dainty steps in tune
rhythmic like a song sweet
a poet's delight.

The bond of bonds
for lives seven
tied in heaven in fifty five
united to last till we die.

The struggles and fetters
endured with smiles and tears
through trying years
crowned with HIS grace.

The tree grew wide and tall
two plus twelve in all
I watch in awe and relish
the fullness of bliss.

Pandit Narendra Sharma पडिंत नरेन्द्र शर्मा by Lavanya Shah

Lavanya Shah

Lavanya grew up in Mumbai in an artistic environment. Her father, Pandit Narendra Sharma, was a renowned Hindi poet\; her mother, Susheela Sharma, painted with oil and water colour mediums. Lavanya started writing poems when she was 3 years old. फ़िर गा उठा प्रवसी Fir Ga Utha Prawasee (The traveller sings again) is her first book of poems. Her Hindi blog is Lavanyam -Antarman (Inner Voice of Lavanya ) लावण्यम्` अन्तर्मन्` She lives in the US. Her email id is

Editor's note: This contribution is in Hindi.


काव्य सँग्रह "प्यासा ~ निर्झर"

की शीर्ष कविता मेँ कवि नरेँद्र कहते हैँ,

"मेरे सिवा और भी कुछ है,

जिस पर मैँ निर्भर हूँ

मेरी प्यास हो ना हो जग को,

मैँ, प्यासा निर्झर हूँ"

हमारे परिवार के "ज्योति -कलश" मेरे पापा

और फिल्म "भाभी की चूडीयाँ" फिल्म के गीत मेँ,

"ज्योति कलश छलके" शब्द भी उन्हीँ के लिखे हुए हैँ

Diwali and her Father by Jitendra Sanghvi

Jitendra Sanghvi

Jeet is a Registered Professional Engineer. He is the Lead Civil/Structural Engineer and Capital Budget Planner for the real estate subsidiary of a multinational automotive manufacturer, and lives in Metropolitan Detroit. Jeet is a fitness enthusiast, and enjoys reading and travelling. He is a member of the Jain Society of Greater Detroit, where he teaches Jainism basics to Middle School children at the temple on Sundays.

My mother's name is Diwali, one of India's most prominent festivals, because she was born on Diwali day. This happened in 1929 in Kolhapur (in present day Maharashtra), which was a Princely State at that time, nominally independent but in practice a part of the British Raj in India. She was the eldest surviving child of Vanaji and Santokbai Nibjiya.

I have always been amazed by my mother's perseverance. In today's culture of instant gratification, her life is an inspiration to me, and many others in her world. She has been part of and taken care of big and unique family setups, stretching the definitions of a nuclear or joint family. I have always been amazed by the stories of her childhood, especially the ones she told me, my siblings and cousins about her father and his accomplishments.

My Father – A Doctor and A Cultured Strongman by Rabindra Nath Gupta


Rabindra Nath was born in Calcutta in 1923. Starting from a young age, he did regular physical exercises throughout his life, and maintained a strong muscular and healthy body. A science graduate, he worked for Jaipur Metals &amp\; Electricals Ltd., Jaipur, from where he retired as Superintendent, electric meters manufacturing division in 1983. Then, he worked as a manager in Jaipur Transformers Ltd., Jaipur and finally retired from service on 31st December 1985.

PK Gupta and his son

I have written this biography as a humble tribute to the revered memory of my late father, Phanindra Krishna Gupta, who was a Major in the Indian Medical Service during the Second World War.

My father was born in Calcutta in 1882, in a middle class Bengali Hindu, Baidya family, which lived in a pucca house and owned some land. He was a maternal grandson of the noted Bengali poet and writer Ishwar Chandra Gupta, who was, in the middle of the nineteenth century the editor and publisher of the Calcutta-based Bengali newspaper Sambad Prabhakar. Phanindra was born in a large family – he was the fifth in line among his six brothers and three sisters.

Jal Pappa by Arzan Khambatta


Arzan, an architect by training, makes public sculptures from metal sheets, straps, rods, pipes and various other sections that are twisted, beaten and textured to give the desired effect. He lives in Mumbai. This contribution reflects his Parsi lineage.

y maternal grandfather, Jalejar Engineer, was called Jal by friends and Pappa by his grandchildren.


He was born in 1900 in Bombay. He was one amongst eleven brothers, and the youngest of them all. His parents were Navaqjbai and Dorabjee Bawaadam, but the family name was changed to Engineer, based on his father’s profession. His parents had delegated the burden of bringing up the younger ones to the older siblings, so you can imagine what fun it must have been for the younger kids. An elder brother would definitely be more lenient than the parents would be. So his earlier years were all fun and frolic, even in school.

After school, he went into the military. I do not know what rank he rose to, but even in his retirement, he seemed to retain a military sense of life. All of six foot three, he cut a very respectable figure on the streets, as he was always dressed in starched and pressed trousers, and a full sleeved white shirt. On more formal occasions, such as going to his bank in the Fort area, he would add on a sober tie and coat.

Nana Ji’s Resonance by Shruti Gupta


Shruti is currently an undergraduate student at Yale University, where she is studying to become a doctor. Though she resides with her family in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, she returns to India every summer to visit her relatives.

When I returned home from college for Christmas break in 2004, I found a blue, 35 cent, wire-bound notebook — creased along the edges — and a prayer book that still smelled of my Nana Ji’s tiger balm and aftershave. The notebook, with my grandfather’s prayer book hidden between its pages, lay dusty and abandoned in one of the boxes that we forgot to unpack after we moved into our new house in the suburbs of Washington, D.C.

Though the journal entry I wrote shortly after my grandpa’s death reflected the profound sense of grief that I felt at the time, it was also intended to celebrate my Nana Ji’s life rather than mourn the loss of it. Despite the occasional spelling mistake, the smudged pencil marks on the yellowing paper, and the choppy sentences, this particular journal holds more sentimental value than the tens of others that fill my drawers at home.

12/24/93: “My grandfather dieid in October. He was very young and strong.”

I read on, and I find at the bottom of the page a small paragraph on the trip to the temple:

“Nana Ji also took me and Surbhi (my older sister) to the local mandir (temple)… That was one of the best nights of my life.”

From an outsider’s perspective, I probably would not see “the best day” of a young girl’s life as anything truly earth-shattering. Yet that night at the temple, I felt something that I could not give justice to on paper as a seven-year-old.

Ramanna, 105, “Not out” by Bapu Satyanarayana


Bapu Satyanarayana, born 1932 in Bangalore, retired as Chief Engineer, Ministry of Surface Transport. At present, he is the presiding arbitrator of the Dispute Adjudication Board appointed by the National Highway Authority of India. He lives in Mysore, and enjoys writing for various newspapers and magazines on a variety of subjects, including political and civic issues.

Editor’s note. Ramanna passed away after this article had been written. The manner of his demise was such that it is appropriate to declare him “Not out.”

The Centurion

In 2007, in his 105th year, my father, Ramanna, bridges two centuries.

While many people younger than him suffer from Parkinson’s disease or senility, he has firmly kept illness at bay, and does not take any medicine. Even now when somebody enquires about his welfare, he has no hesitation to say that he is in perfect health! Of course, he has some problems with his eyesight and hearing, but he takes them in his stride. Some of the old fire has dimmed and sometimes his memory fails him, but when his family prods him and the mood catches him, he can recall things with surprising clarity. On top of it, he is a connoisseur of good food and relishes it immensely.

Memories of Independence Day and Grandfather by M. P. V. Shenoi


.P.V. Shenoi, a civil engineer and MBA, rose to the rank of Deputy Director-General of Works in the Indian Defence Service of Engineers. He has also been a member of HUDCO’s advisory board and of the planning team for Navi Mumbai. After retirement he has been helping NGOs in employment-oriented training, writing articles related to all aspects of housing, urban settlements, infrastructure, project and facility management and advising several companies on these issues.

15 August 1947, the day India gained real freedom, after centuries of alien rule. At that time, I was in my early teens, and a first year student of Maharaja’s High School, Mysore. Mysore was a Princely State, the third largest after Jammu &amp\; Kashmir and Hyderabad.

What was I doing? Do I remember how the day passed for me? I have tried my best to recollect I still cannot come up with anything significant. Still, there is one thing I am certain of. Not only I, but our entire household, consisting of my maternal grandfather, my mother, my brother and my two younger sisters, was sound asleep on the night of August 14-15, 1947. Sorry, I am not sure whether my grandfather was asleep or was merely lying down. Whichever, he had no enthusiasm for Independence.

y grandfather hailed from Bantwal, a small town in South Kanara, then a district of the old Madras Presidency (state). Bantwal was backward on all counts.


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