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Glimpses of Greatness

"She is my daughter now"

Dressed in bright red clothes embroidered with gold, bedecked with various kinds of diamonds, pearl and gold ornaments, as befitted a newly wedded daughter-in-law of a leading Sikh business family of Delhi and the daughter of an equally rich Sikh family of Rohtak, stood Harsarn, with the body of a few hours old husband, Dulara Singh, also dressed in fancy clothes befitting the scion of an aristocratic family. The Kalgi-adorned turban had fallen besides the blood besmirched head. The smile evoked by a whisper from his head-bent bride had frozen. He still looked every inch a bridegroom and a Sardar in the full bloom of youth. The smashed car in which they had travelled, stood facing the brick laden truck, the cause of the tragedy. The other three occupants of the car consisting of the bride's younger brother, bridegroom's sister and the driver had escaped with minor injuries and the bride had none.

They were soon surrounded by other members of the Barat, travelling behind in a long caravan of cars and two contracted buses. The car driver and cleaner of the truck also stood with bowed heads. The accident was also attracting the other passers-by and people working in the adjacent areas.

As soon as the shock was over, practical questions arose. The most important question was as regards the fate of Harsarn, the bride. Different opinions were expressed and advises were rendered to the Man, bridegroom's father Sardar Bahadur1 Gurnam Singh, who was to make the fateful, ultimate decision.

General opinion was that, as the bride had brought ill-lick, she should be sent back to her parents immediately and not taken to Delhi. Sardar Bahadur had kept listening to all this, without expressing any opinion of his own. When every one, that mattered, had his/her say, he called his profusely but silently weeping wife who had tendered no opinion, to one side and had a brief consultation with her. Then he called to his side his long time friend from Pakistan days, Dewan Badri Prashad. They had a hurried discussion and then Gurnam Singh came back to the side of the body and announced several decisions in a firm tone.

He said, "the Bride was his daughter now and would travel with the family to Delhi." He asked his wife to take aside the bride, give her water and solace. He requested Dewan Sahib to take the bride in his car separately and immediately to his own house in Delhi along with the bride's brother and his daughter.

When Dewan Sahib's car had left, he diverted his attention to his son's body. The police had meanwhile arrived. Due to his vast influence and prestige the police released the body in a comparatively short time. The barat, transformed into a funeral procession, then proceeded towards Delhi.

During the subsequent funeral ceremonies, no one mentioned a single word against the bride in deference to the express wishes of the Sardar.

The Bhog ceremony ! was attended by hundreds of relations and friends of the two families. Unrelated persons had also poured in large numbers to express sympathy for the grave tragedy. In the vast multitude, that also hung a silent but loud question. What had the Sardar decided as to the fate of his widowed daughter-in-law whose marriage had not even been consummated.

The Bhog ceremony came to an end with the usual Ardas begging for eternal peace to the departed soul and asking for strength for the survivors to bear the unbearable loss. On Gurnam Singh's request, the Bhai Sahib performing the Ardas had also invoked Akal-Purkh to give peace and special strength to his newly acquired daughter.

The people departed singly and in groups without having had their question, as to the fate of the widowed bride, answered.

After the people, who had come to mourn, had departed, Gurnam Singh invited Harsarn's parents that he had consulted his wife and the younger son and it was with their full consent, that he was requesting them with folded hands to permit Harsarn to wed his younger son and remain the daughter of the family which she had already become. Harsarn's parents were taken aback and were dumbfounded. He further said that both of them could consult in private and also take Harsarn into confidence. With this he left the drawing room with his wife and son, to give Harsarn's parents time to ponder.

Earlier, Sardar Gurnam Singh, with the full concurrence of his wife, had begged Piara Singh, his younger son, to accept Harsarn as his bride. He had also offered to add to the expected inheritance of Piara Singh, the share of the deceased Dulara Singh. Piara Singh had kept silent with a bent head for a few minutes and then with his head still bent, had replied as always he would carry out the wishes of his respected parents. He refused to take the share of his dead brother and requested his parents to do with it as they pleased.

After about half an hour, Harsarn's parents came out and with tear-brimmed eyes thanked Sardar and Sardarni Gurnam Singh and Piara Singh for their magnificent offer and expressed their willingness to consult their daughter Harsarn. There upon, the five of them drove to Dewan Badri Prashad's house.

Harsarn's parents were with their daughter alone for about fifteen minutes. There after Harsarn came out, fell at the feet of Sardar and Sardarni Gurnam Singh and said she was blessed for being accepted as the daughter of such saints.

(Gratefully reproduced from "Glimpses of Greatness" by Dr. Gajindar Singh)


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