A Human Story by Robin Nakai ❤️

Balwinder Singh
The Lampwallah …

Driving back from Sector 21 after buying fish , today , I crossed this old Sardar gentleman , limping along , carrying a load of lanterns on his back and slung across his shoulders , in red , orange and blue . I had always wanted to buy one of these , and had always procrastinated, and said to me self – next time !

So, today as I crossed the man , I again thought to me self -next time, and kept driving .
But as I glanced in my rear view mirror , I thought – man when will it ever be the next time ?

It suddenly hit me like a bolt – Let it be today ! Go buy the lamp ! Do it !

So I went to the roundabout , went around and back down the road to the 21 Sector lights , took a U turn and caught up with the Lampwallah !

The thing that surprises you as you gaze upon the Lampwallah , is the countenance of the man , who is well into the prime of his life , calm , unworried , a smile plays on his fair face , the white beard gives him a halo of a calm appearance and there is , in his a ‘ thank you ‘ already greeting you , as you walk up to him and puts his load down – giving you a strange feeling , that he knows that you will buy a lamp from him today .

Balwinder Singh , is his name , and he has been making lamps in his little room in Burail Village .He makes a load of 150 lamps , and then he sells 25 lamps daily – and yes , says Balwinder , I sell 25 everyday .

Displaced by the 1984 riots , from the Delhi Progrom of Anti Sikh riots , his family still lives in Delhi . Some days , says Balwinder I may even walk 25 Kms to sell the lamps . I was staggered at all what Balwinder was saying . Here was a true hero – a man not ready to lay down and say – enough – despite the travails in his life .

So , as I paid for 3 lamps ( @ 150/-) a piece ( the lamps are electric) , Balwinder sighed and said – Thak Gaya ji , Bahut Lamba Safar Kar Layeya – Hun Diwali Nu Retire Ho Jawanga ! ( I am tired , it’s been a long journey , I shall retire on Diwali ) .

As I stood there and looked at Balwinder , I could only feel pang of sorrow – for many have seen Balwinder with his load of lamps , but this year as the sparklers come
to an end on Diwali , and the smoke settles , another icon of the Chandigarh streets and markets , will disappear into the annals of history !

I enquired from him , as to where was he headed – Sector 18 market he said – so I offered him a lift , and he just smiled gently and said – No thank you , I will walk and sell my lamps along the way !

Will any one stop and buy them – I asked ?

With a twinkle in his eyes and with his inimitable smile he gently said – You stopped and bought – didn’t you ?

As I drove away and saw Balwinder in my rear view mirror , I wondered would I ever recognise him ever without the lamps ?

In his life that could have ended in darkness , Balwinder has brought light into many a home .

Lead on kindly light !

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