VINOD SHARMA’S house in Sector 46 is ‘guarded’ by Nek Chand’s famous chowkidaar, one of the four sculptures gifted to Sharma by the creator of the Rock Garden many decades back. Sharma met Nek Chand in 1982, during one of his visits to the garden. “I was so impressed by his personality and his friendly nature that I started visiting him every day after my office hours,” recalls Vinod, adding that both of them would return home together in the evening, Nek Chand on his bicycle and Vinod on his scooter.
Sharma recalls a day that remains etched in his memory, when Nek Chand needed a photographer and requested Sharma to learn photography. “I bought my first camera, began learning photography and started working with Nek Chand part-time on his request.”
This affected Sharma’s professional life and he resigned from his government job to be with his friend. Sharma was Nek Chand’s personal photographer for years, capturing the Rock Garden in its many phases. “I had a serious leg injury, but Nek Chand never got anyone else in my place. He was a man of his word,” adds Sharma.
Nek Chand had a visitors’ register at the Rock Garden, with many tourists writing their views and comments on the artist and his work. Sharma remembers a comment by a Pakistani journalist distinctly. ‘In a place like India, an artist like Nek Chand will only be valued after his death.’
“Nek Chand had a passion and eye for art and I remember how he would keep a note of the places that were under construction in the city as he would go there to collect the scrap and store it for later use, for his art. He had booked the tailors in the Sector 17 complex to save leftover shreds of cloth and rags for him that he would use to beautify his sculptures,” recalls Sharma, adding how he marvelled at the focus, dedication and concentration Nek Chand had towards his work. “Many a time, he didn’t allow anyone near his work area. His art was unique and stunning, something that cannot be compared to anything else.”
Nek Chand, reflects Sharma, was family and his arty works not just beautify his home, but fill it with many precious and loving memories.