“IT was even before I met Nek Chand in person, in the mid-eighties that I had developed an affinity with this great soul. Maybe because I, though no match to his iconic personality, too had started my life’s tough journey from a very humble position like him. No wonder, I used to visit the Rock Garden, a wondrous art creation, whenever I could steal some free moments from my rather hectic schedules at the nearby High Court. And I must admit that to date, my every visit to this Mecca of art fills me with an inspiration to work hard and be humble”, recalls SP Arora, a retired Haryana State Civil Servant and now a busy advocate at the Punjab and Haryana High Court.
It was after his first meeting with Nek Chand in his hut, his office-cum-meditating sanctuary, that Arora became his instant and ardent admirer. “The warm welcome to his spiritual abode was bereft of any pretentions or airs,” says Arora.
Since Arora later had the privilege to work on various important administrative positions with the Chandigarh Administration, including as Director Public Relations and Tourism and Estate Officer, he started getting frequent opportunities to interact with Nek Chand. It was during these days of intellectual bonding that Nek Chand gave a few of his art creations, as mementoes, to decorate Arora’s home in Sector 7, Chandigarh.
There are so many people here in Chandigarh alone who have Rock Garden related art works with them, that the benevolent Nek Chand had presented to them rather fondly. No wonder all these people keep these art works with both care and respect and have made them an important part of their homes and hearts. Arora has preserved these precious art works in a unique manner. While three life-sized figures adorn the entrance to his home, he has given a place of pride to a small memento made of clay beads, in his puja room.
“Nek Chand’s creations in my home always remind me of his awe- inspiring humility. The way he crafted, with great skill, a highly artistic ambiance out of an unused vacant space and waste material, is unimaginable. What is more surprising than that is the fact that his international recognition did not go to his head. That makes him an exalted person of unparalleled modesty and artistic might,” shares Arora.
Beginning his daily routine with a salutation to Nek Chand’s creations inspires Arora to keep his feet firmly on the ground. “I like everybody else, miss his physical presence a lot. But his valuable gift, apart from the personal ones, that he gave the city in the form of the Rock Garden fill his vacuum virtually and rockingly well,” sums up Arora. The writer is a former principal of Government College in Sector 11, Chandigarh.