WHO AM I? A Self Inquiry Grounded In Fact And Fiction


By Zile Singh


First of all let me tell you that the column you are going to read is neither a religious discourse nor political and social research.   On the contrary, it is a true story as well as a fiction. True in a sense that whatever I am going to narrate is my personal observation and it is a fiction  in a  sense that the occasion was the launch of a Punjabi Novel “ Talash  Jari Hai” by Mr. Malook Chand Kaler, Principal (Retd.) from Jalandhar (Punjab)  who is now a Non-Resident Indian  based in Surrey, British Columbia, Canada.


The event was advertised through the Punjabi weekly “Sach Di  Awaaz” and the Spice Radio.  The book  launch, under the aegis of  “ Lok Kavi Gurdas Ram Alam Sahitya Sabha, Canada was organized at the Seniors’ Centre, 7050, Scott Road Surrey located in the premises of  the Gurdwara  on Sunday, May 12, 2019.  The audience, numbering about 50,   comprised Hon’ble Harry Bains, Labour Minister, BC, Mr. Sukh Dhaliwal, Member Parliament, Prof. Gurvinder Dhaliwal, President, Press Club, BC,  Mr. Rajinder Pandher, Editor, Such Di Awaaz, Mr. H.S. Brar, President Seniors’ Centre and Mr. Zile Singh, Ambassador(Retd.), now an NRI based in Vancouver.  Mr. Avatar Mahey, a young budding immigrant managed the stage in a very professional manner.


The Novelist narrates his struggled  life story  knitted with the  problems connected with  poverty, caste discrimination,  nepotism, corruption, intolerance, dwindling relations and declining moral behaviour in the society.    To prove his point, the novelist has drawn upon some parables   and historical events as well.  Principal Kaler wrote  his autobiography entitled “Kore Ghare Da Pani” in 2008 and “ Suraj ugg Paya”, another novel in 2012.  The writer has  another Novel “ Jungle Wich Chaun” to his credit.  According to Kaler, “ In every sensible and creative person,  a different  man is born every tenth year of his life ” That is why in his present novel his effort  is an improvement on his previously written work. He has given a fictionalized form to his autobiography in a new and   subtle way.  The writer is still struggling to understand “Who Am I?” because the Search Is Still On.  It is a fact that we use narrative to explain ourselves and the world, but these interpretations are subjective and changeable.  The proper evaluation of the subject matter of ‘Talash Jari Hai’ depends on the readers who will read it from their personal points of view.  In the words of Prof. Narinjin Tasneem, Punjabi Sahitya Rattan, Language Department, Punjab “in addition to struggle of his personal life, the writer has described the  social and economic conditions in the past and  the present.”


My personal observation was that   no doubt, the audience was thin, but  it was strong, mature and connected with literature and a motto.    The unfortunate part  was that there was hardly any  presence of the community of people who can benefit from the story of   Principal Kaler and Kavi Alam to break the myth, turned truth, of their ‘Mistaken Identity’  combined with their childhood experiences   inherited from the  baseless and Manupolized (monopolized) system.  There is an allegory that captures the universal human tendency of ‘Mistaken Identity’.  The story is of a lion cub abandoned in the herd of sheep.  The poor cub learnt to bleat, walk  and eat grass like a good sheep should.  May God bless that old lion who took the young cub by his tail and pulled him to a pond where he could  see his own reflection in the water.  For the first time the cub realized what he really was.  The Manupolized masses here and elsewhere, instead of breaking that ‘mistaken identity’ are making sincere efforts to cement that obnoxious identity under one banner or the other.  The fact is that there is no need of  any old lion to pull them by their tail and show the pond.  Canada is a very big pond of clear water to show one’s real reflection. Hon’ble Harry Bains, Labour Minister pointed out that there were labour policies which discriminated us as  the immigrants, but now we the immigrants are making the labour policies.  Member Parliament Sukh Dhaliwal  was congratulated for piloting the Bill and getting it through to declare April ( the month Khalsa was founded in 1699) as the  ‘Sikh Heritage Month’.  Under these circumstances,  is there  any need for  people coming from India, UK and the USA to lecture, research and advise on   the stories of  caste and Dalit issues in Canada.  As human beings, we are part of a greater whole, a family tree with roots reaching back to the first human beings who walked the earth.   “The World Goes on Wheels; not on Crutches.”

Mr. Zile Singh is much respected Link Columnist, writer, a Vipassana Meditator and has a Post-Graduate Diploma in Human Rights.  He can be reached at zsnirwal@yahoo.ca

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