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“NEK CHAND was a man who was in sync with God and nature. He had an eye for art and everything beautiful and unique,” says Major Rajinder Singh Virk, recalling the long association he had with the creator of the Rock Garden. A childhood friend of Nek Chand’s son Anuj Saini, Maj Virk refers to Nek Chand as uncle, someone he knew since his childhood.
“I was witness to the years the Rock Garden was being created and saw the artist at work, viewing his thoughts and ideas come to life. He would ride a bicycle to work and greet everyone who came to visit him with an open heart,” smiles Maj Virk, whose home in Sector 8, Chandigarh, reflects the works of Nek Chand, with parts of the home done up with ideas similar to Nek Chand’s creations. “That’s because I built the house with Nek Chand’s ideas and suggestions and I am so proud to say that he was the one who inaugurated my home. His love and presence engulf us and this home always. He was family,” says Major Virk.
Maj Virk’s favourite possessions are of course, sculptures of a chowkidaar and a duck gifted to him by Nek Chand, which find a special place in the open green area, gifted to him in the early 1990s, with a sculpture by Anuj, very similar to Nek Chand’s creation, using broken tiles, cement, colourful mosaic, et al, also close to his heart. “The piece is a proof of the father and son’s bond as Anuj has been closely associated with uncle and his work,” says the major.
An art and nature lover himself, Maj Virk reflects that Nek Chand’s art, love, friendship have enriched his life and being in many ways, describing the artist as, “a happy-go-lucky man who stayed happy and loved making others happy. I remember the joy on his face to date when he was awarded a bicycle and was so ecstatic riding it. He was a man of simple tastes, someone I idolise, with his determination an inspiration to one and all. It was his hard work and focus that made him achieve the goal of his life and made Rock Garden a reality. He never lost touch with his life and was a person with a calm mind. Even in his last days, Nek Chand never lost touch with the Rock Garden, visiting the place daily. Nek Chand’s heart and soul resides in the Rock Garden”.