IT was an emotional afternoon at the prayer meet for M N Sharma at the Sector 7 Arya Samaj Mandir on Wednesday, where the first Indian chief architect of Chandigarh was remembered as a father, friend, guide, visionary and among the few who saw Chandigarh grow brick-by-brick.
Though ailing for months, before passing away on October 30, Sharma’s death came as a shock to many. Jyoti Subramanian, author and yoga teacher and a dear friend of Sharma, said: “I was in Australia when I got a call from him, as he wanted to talk to me. But we could not connect at that time. When I called back, he was asleep. I thought since I would be in Chandigarh soon, I would go and meet him at his home. Little did I realise that I would never see him again. I wish we could have talked that day.”
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Sharma had a large family — nine brothers and sisters — and many from the family were at the meet to pay their respects. His daughter Sonia, who came down from UK, remembered how she had visited her father recently and spent quality time with him.
“God created my father for the preservation of Chandigarh. His heart, mind and soul were in the city. Like the Open Hand of Le Corbusier, my father’s hand of guidance and blessings will remain with Chandigarh and M N Aharma Architectural Society will now be my father’s torch bearer,” she said.
UT Adviser Parimal Rai described Sharma as someone who was a guiding light, inspiring and encouraging, even when he was so unwell.
Yojna Yadav, another friend of Sharma, recalled the architect’s last creation.
“A wooden sculpture, shaped like a globe that Sharma had last created, was a symbol of the universe, the philosophy being that the world is equal for everyone. He wanted it to be made in steel and bronze, and we hope his last work can find a prominent display, may be at the Lake. We will work with the administration on this project,” said Yadav, adding that the BBC team that was to interview the architect this week would visit the city and his home to look at his work in Chandigarh.
Prominent architects of the city, faculty from the College of Architecture, members of the Akademies, Sharma’s young friends from various walks of life, shared many memories of the man whose home was always open to them.
Pratibha, Sharma’s dear friend and an educationist, said: “He loved it when we gathered at his home, talking, eating and sharing the latest news of the world. Evenings will never be the same again.”