Bhana Ram Agrawal AKA Bauji
Bauji, one of the most influential person in my life. He was the only man that I knew since beginning of my life and till date. He was only men in my life whom I looked upon ever since my childhood, till the time I got married, even when I had given birth to my kids and up to these day.
Bauji hailed from a small, sleepy village in Haryana, Chapar. He was a simple person and attached to his roots yet open to new thoughts and technology. A self made man who refused to be part of property dispute and left all his ancestral properties for his brothers and family went on his own way- a la Columbus to discover his life and live it on his own terms.
He would often say that as long as his limbs work, he need nothing but his own strength and that will set everything. He truly believed in potential of human being and their ability to overcome all hardships and pave their own ways. His armor reminded me of mythological king Bhagirath who digged up mountains and brought the holy river “Ganga” all the way from Kailash to earth. Bauji was not myth. He was a real king who ruled hearts and set a high level in society. No wonder that farmers trusted him with their lands and traders trusted him with the business and merchants looked upon him for getting right evaluation of their commodities.
Bauji was designated as the head of Traders in the district and every farmer who waned to sell his produce, wanted to approach Bauji first without fear of any prejudice.
People’s “Bhana Seth”, family’s role model
We were a family of eight-three brothers and three sisters, ma and Bauji. Inspite of hailing from an orthodox background, Bauji never differentiated between his sons and daughter. Instead, he treated daughter with special care cause he believe that one day all daughters go to their husband’s house and while it is imperative to make them almost perfect human beings, it is also mandatory to love them as much possible. He was not highly educated like my ma but he valued the power of education and never discouraged his daughters to not pursue their education and interest like sports, theater, arts and others. However, he made very sure that no compromise will be made on academic marks and it has t0 be minimum “first class” to show our respect towards our education and need to be educated.
He was strict disciplinarian. No matter if it is extreme summer, winter or rains or how unwell he is, he will stick to his routine which was- getting up at 4 am, taking a round of home gardens, checking all the plants, nurturing, protecting from sun, watering etc, followed by an inspection round of our oil mill, observing things around and picking flowers and fruits for his daily pooja. He would then take bath, get ready, perform pooja at home and visit the two temples in our vicinity, come home, eat his simple breakfast and leave for his shop AKA Gaddi [a traditional name given to trader’s shop].
Bauji was man of few words and man of high ethics
His calculations and books were simple and clear. He taught us the importance of time and dedication to our work. Very rarely do we get to see him viling away his time in gossiping with others or talking that is not required. He would head home for lunch at sharp 1:30pm every day and was never fussy about his food except that he wanted hot food unless he is working in shop and tiffin needs to be delivered. There was a tendency among traders to take a nap post lunch but Bauji would rarely stay back and return to his shop to ensure that he is available when required. He taught us how to not mix business with comfort/
At 6:30pm he will be back home, refresh up and take a quick stroll at the oil mill and Godown to see if everything is going fine and any intervention is required. He was a tough task master who would given enough independence to people to perform but still won’t offload his duty in delegation and taught us to own responsibilities.
Bauji rarely ever complained of bad health. He will brave sickness and tragedy alike. Even the time when he fell sick and fell sick to cancer, he positively braved everything including the trauma when a bull hit him in market and his leg has to be cast in plaster for months or his acute Asthama or the fact that he was using a denture for eating.
Bauji and Kids
Children were his life and he would always have something for them in that little pocket of his white kurta. Mostly dry fruits and chocolates and sometimes freshly ripened fruits from kitchen garden. Bauji taught me compassion and importance of inculcating right values in the kids.
There is a lot that I have learnt from bauji. He truly inspired me. He was my role model. I lost Bauji to mortality when I was in Jaipur, with my daughter who has met a traumatic accident and lost ehr leg. A truth that we have not told my Bauji as my daughter spent her childhood with him and he was very attached to her. He was battling and recuperating from cancer that time. We thought this news may break him further.We did not wanted to give him a shock like this. We wanted him to heal first. he was undergoing multiple surgeries and the vaccinations were very painful. Till his death he kept on asking, everyone came came to meet me. Why Suman did not come? We could not tell him the truth. He did not survived thereafter to know it either.
It was a sad end to a person like him but he was a fighter. He was my role model and I remember various virtues he taught us wrt life, money, ethics, family, dedication etc. A lot more time living by example then mere words.
Till his last breath he continued to help people. Even today they remember him and often eulogize- Aadmi howe to Bhana Seth Jaiso. pathar ne bhi chu lewo toh Sona ban jaawe, Khalish Sono. [A man should be like Bhana Seth, who if touches a stone, it becomes Gold, pure gold]
Bauji, you were my true gold and the best teacher in life. I miss you sordidly but I pray that wherever you are, God should make you happy and give you peace and take away pain. Bauji you were the man of substance in this world of puny. I salute your spirit. I wish you were there among us to guide, support and show the right way.
A Daughter who still misses you,
Suman, 60 years old, Female