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Brother - Teacher - Brother
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Brother - Teacher - Brother
Throughout life I had often heard that "truth is stronger than fiction." The other day, a Divisional Forest Officer, a neighbour and a friend came to visit us. He asked me what I was doing after retirement. I told him about my interest in recording a series of "Glimpses of Greatness in Common Persons." Then he recounted his personal experience of a remarkable person, Headmaster Gurbachan Singh, who had influenced his life and the lives of countless other students in Khalsa High School Sargodha. Stories of devoted teachers in all countries, including India, are scarce but by no means rare. What interested me more about this man was his being also an exemplary brother who could inspire a younger brother to even better him.

Grubachan Singh was the eldest child in a family of seven - four brothers and three sisters. Their's was a middle class family, depending upon the income of the father, a clerk in a private mill, till Gurbachan Singh became a junior teacher in the local Khalsa School, just after passing his Matriculation. Due to his additional source of income, there was seen a little affluence in the house. But this prosperity was short lived. Gurbachan's father died soon after and left the entire burden of supporting a family of eight on the slender shoulders of Gurbachan.

Gurbachan made a resolve not only to support the family but to raise their standard of life - give the highest possible education to his brothers and sisters, settle his brothers as best as possible and marry his sisters into respectable and prosperous families. To achieve these ends, he made three resolutions - to earn as much as possible; to enhance his academic qualifications and never to marry. He thought that if he married, he could not take full care of his mother, brothers and sisters. He stuck to this resolve despite the urging of his mother and other members of the family.

He took all the tuition work that came his way and did accountancy for small shopkeepers. Along with this he never lost sight of his second resolve, to better his qualifications. Steadily he became a M.A. in History, and rose to be the most popular Headmaster, not only in the history of the institution but amongst all the recognised institutions of Sargodha.

He continued to undertake tuition work with the sons of the affluent, but he was always available to his poor students at school or at home. When he became the Headmaster, he made it a rule to gather all the final year students in the Hostel, three months before the final examination, give them free personal tuition and also get them help from other members of the staff. My friend said that he was a mediocre student, he could not have passed his Matriculation in the Ist division, if S. Gurbachan Singh had not taken such care of him along with others. He further asserted that he considered his present high position was entirely due to the devotion to studies and duty inspired by his revered teacher.

On the family front, steady progress was maintained. As the brothers qualified, they were fixed in lucrative jobs, thanks to the spreading influence and reputation of their eldest brother. All the brothers and sisters except the youngest were got married, also.

Then the mother and all the members of the family exerted together to get Gurbachan married, then about 45 years of age. Eldest amongst the sisters, who had been married in Delhi, selected a Delhi girl for him. But the girl could not adjust to the ruralite atmosphere of old Sargodha; could not tolerate the open house that Gurbachan kept for his students, friends and relations; and could not adjust to his unsophisticated and simple habits. After about one and half years of uneasy and fruitless married life, she left him for good and returned to her job in Delhi.

In the meanwhile partition of India had taken place. Gurbachan Singh had become Headmaster of another Khalsa School in India. The Hindu Marriage Act had also been enacted, disallowing a second marriage. The angry separated wife would not give a divorce, in spite of all the pleadings of her own and Gurbachan's family. Gurbachan regretted having given in to the pleadings of his family and having married. But this brief interlude into married life, though with a sorry end, left Gurbachan a dispirited and disillusioned man.

Then the youngest brother, who had been absorbed in the Managerial cadre in a major bank, came forward with a scheme. He told the family that his respected brother had done enough sacrifice and towards the close of his life, he needed the comfort of a wife and family. As his "Bhabi"1 would not agree to a divorce, he put forward a novel proposal. He said, that he would marry a girl on behalf of his brother, he would explain to the girl the circumstances, make it clear to her that though in the eyes of the law she would be his wedded wife but in reality she would be his respected elder Bhabi, and he would own the responsibility for any children that would be born to her and his brother.

Gurbachan at first, would not hear of it and not accept the unheard of sacrifice of his younger brother. But the united WILL and LOVE of the family prevailed. Gurbachan had to acquiesce to the proposal. And wonder of wonders, such a girl was found, who willingly agreed to the proposal. My friend told me that the last that he had heard of, was that the Headmaster, now retired, lived with his so called wife and had a son.
01-13-2009 05:05 PM
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