Thursday, July 5, 2007

Puttar - The Innocent Man, A lovely Father

For most of the world 4th June, 2007 was just another day, but it was a nightmare for my family.

My father whom we all called “Puttar” was a central binding force. He used to call every young one – “Beta” irrespective whether the person was known to him or not. This four letter word when uttered by him was so polite and rhythmical that the person hearing the same was getting attached to him. But fortunately last time when could speak this word – “Beta” it had all pains, though spoken after gathering all energies had just made a movie to still photography

Puttar- Shri Shiv Prasad Dubey was born officially on 10th October, 1935. His actual Birthday was 23rd November. We were celebrating his birthday three times in a year above two dates and the day according to Hindu calendar.

Being son of a farmer and a village school teacher he had very limited resources in the childhood. Learning and reading was his hobby and this only made him to do graduation and post graduation from Agra University. No one in family or relation was there to help him pick the subject at under graduate level so he opted for Hindi – the language close to his heart.
M.A. with Hindi had very little job opportunities. Having adventured in business and sales of books of two publishers of Agra he finally joined Indian Railways in the year 1963 with the dream to travel across whole country. He traveled a lot mostly in rail not for leisure, but as a part of service – on duty tours

Puttar had initial posting at Kota but in a very time got transferred to Agra where he worked till 1970. Then he got an opportunity to work in a school library so took transfer a very small towm in Rajsthan - Gangapur City. This was an important railway station on Bombay - Delhi route as the engines of long distance train were being changed over here. Otherwise there was nothing in the city except three schools, two of them run by the Railways.

Dad himself was fond of reading so for us to immitate him wad easy, that was the time in life me and my elder brother got taste of reading and started to buy and read Chandamama, Parag, Nandan and Champak.
The person in place of whom my father had joined school library returned back after some time and so he was asked to join loco shed or else return back to Agra. Though very disappointed with the events he chose to stay back in Gangapur City. He made himself more active in the Pashchim Railway Karmachari Parishad (PRKP) an union of railway employees supported by then Jansangha. This union had very less membership but its ideology my father found more promising as the leaders of other two unions – Employees Union and Majdoor sangh -Congress supported outfit were so corrupt that they were in making money even from the class IV employees. Soon he increased membership of PRKP, his love for books remained intact.

He kept on trying and at last in the August 1973 he received a chance in the library of Railway Staff College of Baroda. There was no monetary gain on the contrary new city was going to costly. Yet, he opted to carry out transfer to an unknown place as he thought if he is with book his children too would love books and become intelligent. Early days in Baroda were very difficult low income and new expenses. A room was taken on rent within the staff college. He himself wore repaired pants with patches, but new uniforms for his both sons.

He cycled more than 10 Kms daily in morning to drop kids to school. He expressed several times that he wanted the kids to be doctor. This dream of him none of the sons could full-fill. Though he never expressed anguish for the failure of sons, but got reflected many times later when ever career was talked.. He always tried to provide facilities to children more than his capacity. He even sold of his ancestral land in the village Garhi Purani. This sacrifice of him we could never repay.

Life in Baroda was the best phase of life for every body in the family. After initial struggle we settled there. Dad started giving tuition to the children of professors in the staff college. Many times those professors forgot to pay the fees, but this helped him in establishing him as a learned person. During his college days he had been college General Secretary of student union, that leadership resurfaced again once he joined Northern India Cultural Association (NICA). This association got him respect and recognition to a very large number in the city.

It was this association which made him to forget the partiality done at the time of promotions in the college. It was pity the college which was training professional to run the Indian Railways ignored sincere work of him. His qualification and honesty was ignored every time. When less qualified and insincere colleagues were promoted he used to get upset, but he diverted all his energies in the constructive work to expand base of NICA. At one time the membership figure rose to more than 1,000 families.

Normally such associations become a place for wealthy people to show off their strengths and a pastime activity. My father used this platform to bring lower middle income group family at one place and give an exposure to their talent. Many can take credit now for the successful staging of Ram Lila in Baroda, but twenty five years ago if some one could dare to gather hundreds of participants, it was Mr Shiv Prasad Dubey. Baroda had traditional mix of Gujarati and Marathi culture, Ganesh Chaturthi and Garba in Navratri was in the blood of people. Garba as such is an excitement the way it was performed in Baroda. These were the days rehearsals for Ramlila were to be done. So it was impossible to get actors for Ram Lila. He was the binding force for people behind the screen. Some might still remember him as Narad in Ram Lila. Yo won’t find character of Narad in Ram Lila, but it was introduced in Baroda to co-ordinate various characters on the stage.