“The best part of their thanks giving speeches was ...”
(31 December 2017)
Dr. Daljit Singh.
11 October 1934 - 27 December 2017
A compationate doctor, a fine man and a sensitive poet: Dr. Daljit Singh
In May 2014, during national elections I wrote a post in which I gave bio-sketches of 25 candidates all over the country, whom I wished to be elected. Only two of them were elected. Here is what I wrote about Dr. Daljit Singh at that time. And also what I wrote in 'The Indian Express' today as a tribute:
Dr. Daljit Singh (Teacher of Dr. Gandhi) is known in leftist circles since early sixties, when he was Doctor in eye department at Rajendera Medical college Patiala. During 1967-72 Dr. Pyare Mohan, Surjit Lee etc. were in touch with him in early phase of Naxalite movement in Punjab. But Dr. Daljit Singh had relations with earlier Communist movement as well, with Satya Pal Dang etc. He used to help and support young student rebels of Punjab Students Union and their mentors like Surjit Lee and exchanged literature. From the very beginning of his medical career, he had the idealist streak in him, possibly got in from his respected Sikh scholar father Bhai Sahib Singh. He served Medical College till 1976 or at Amritsar, before establishing his own Dr. Daljit Singh Eye Hospital.
I was probably introduced to him either by Surjit Lee or Dr. Gandhi in 1972-75 period, but later when I had to undergo cataract surgery in 1990 or so, Poonam Preetlari accompanied us to Dr. Daljit Singh. We stayed at Poonam house in Amritsar then. Dr. Daljit Singh has a practice of charging not only no fees, no expense from Punjabi writers. So from Gurdial Singh down to lesser known writers availed his generosity. Dr. Daljit Singh himself has a flair for writing, not only on his professional subject ‘eye care’, that too in Punjabi language, but in other fields of writing as well. He writes prose on American oppression of the world and with documents showed that how 9/11 was USA’s own planned act to push the world into a fire of hatred and violence. He is a poet and had two collections of poetry to his credit in Punjabi. My way of paying to his generosity was to translate his poetry in Hindi, which I did with pleasure, which was published by Kulwant Singh Suri, son of eminent Punjabi writer Nanak Singh. A release function on the book was also organised in Amritsar.
When in 2002, I had another retinal detachment, after losing much vision in first detachment in 1992 end in Delhi, at the recommendation of Dr. Balbir Singh, an eye surgeon friend at Patiala, we rushed to Amritsar. This time Dr. Daljit Singh personally took care of the surgery done by his daughter in law Dr. Indu Singh, retinal expert in his eye hospital. This time we were hosted in his new hospital cum patient accommodation rooms, again charging no expense, despite my request that my University would reimburse me. And when in 2004 or so, my daughter had serious eye problem, Dr. Balbir again sent us to Amritsar and this time too Dr. Indu Singh not only treated her, she gave her so much affection as well.
I have been sending my books on Bhagat Singh to Dr. Daljit Singh, who is also his fan and wrote even a poem on him. And when his candidature was declared from AAP, I expressed my solidarity with pleasure. Dr. Daljit Singh enjoy so much respect in Amritsar that he went even to Congress and BJP rallies and distribute AAP caps and people accepted. Despite being personal doctor of Presidnet of India at one time and receiving Padam Shri honours in 1987, he never referred these things in his campaign as candidate. He was the only candidate to visit slum areas of the city and also poor Dalit areas in rural side, where no Congress/BJP candidate went. In light mood, when I phoned him to express my solidarity, he said half jokingly ‘we may even win!’ In two bullish candidates fighting a dirty campaign, Dr. Daljit Singh’s campaign was cleanest to the core and my strongest wish is his victory! He is nearly eighty years old now and had been working since more than five decades with such discipline getting up at 3:00 am, reaching operation theatre by 4:00 am. Performing surgeries till 7:00 am and then with little break, reaching OPD and attending to patients till almost 2:00 to 3:00 pm before lunch break. After an hour or so again going to ward to look after morning operated patients. Sitting on computer from early nineties, when few people had such excess and competence.
I Attended the Bhog ceremony for Dr. Daljit Singh yesterday in Amritsar.
There was a huge turn up from far and off and local area. Many ministers, MLAs and bureaucrats were there.
Only two persons spoke after Kirtan, Dr. Daljit Singh class-fellow and Friend from School days Principal Jagdish Singh and Dr. Ravijit Singh, elder son of Dr. Daljit Singh.
The best part of their thanks giving speeches was no single person whether minister or other biggie was mentioned by name and everybody was thanked as mass of people. It seems more people from AAP party joined, though Dr. Daljit had left AAP. Even better was rather than formal eulogising of departed soul, very human features of Dr. Daljit singh were described, many unknown in most informal manner, as Jagdish Singh remembered how. In School, Daljit Singh will come out with Basketball and play for certain time even alone, if no other student turned up!
Ravijit`s memoirs were most touching. He told in a very simple style:
1. Daljit Singh did not speak for almost one year after birth and was named ‘Ghughu ‘ਘੁੱਗੂ’ and that Ghughu became Daljit Singh
2. In school/college, Daljit used to make sketches of teachers. So first thing his English teacher will utter at entering the class - Daljit get out of class! And Daljit will sit in the library and score more marks than those attended classes!
3. Even in 1957, Daljit Singh had ‘love marriage’. A rarity in those days, so he was a love jehadi sixty years ago!
4. When Ravi was just in second class, daddy Daljit got him a book to read - मनुष्य महाबली कैसे बना in sixties. And when Ravi could not make anything of it, Dad will read and explain it to him.
5. Daljit Singh wrote in his fiancée gift dairy - ‘Professional competence is the best patriotism’ and he worked throughout till last days 16-18 hours a day in hospital innovating first lense for eye from a Dentist gifted small chemical bottle!
6. Daljit Singh could play any number of musical instruments - harmonium, tabla and western. He got even saxophone but could not play!
7. His whole house was full of cameras. He was best photographer, even he did computer sketching of friends!
8. Son Ravi could never beat Papa in any indoor game. Be it carom board, table tennis, chess or billiards! City club has engraved Daljit Singh as two time billiards champion.
9. Daljit Singh was fond of painting as well. In his last bed ridden days he did many nature paintings. Wished even to attend hobby art classes, though could not!
10. Dr. Daljit Singh would know of his student, patient or friend`s needs and help him without letting him or her know!
11. Daljit contested 2014 Lok Sabha elections and someone asked 50 thousand rupees for some votes. He told him not to vote for him as he won't give money!
12. Ravijit spoke as Daljit would have wished him to speak. Perhaps it was best way to remember and celebrate him!
Adieu Dr. Daljit Singh, a life lived meaningfully and well. Inspiring rational humanism! Hope your legacy continues as you took forward your father Prof. Sahib Singh`s legacy!