Bewildered and confused seeing his mother and grandmother wailing, five-year-old Gurparkash Singh was clueless on what was going on at his home in village Ghaloti Khurd of Moga Friday. He just knows that his father is ‘on duty’ in Jammu and will be back soon to get him admitted to a new school.
“Papa is on duty in Jammu… he will be back soon. He is in CRPF. He is there to get some money for us..,” says Gurparkash, son of CRPF head constable Jaimal Singh (44), killed in one of the deadliest terror attacks at Pulwama Thursday.
Jaimal Singh, driver of the ill-fated vehicle that was blown up by terrorists, had just one dream – a good education for his son and for that he was shifting his family to Chandigarh by the end of this month.
Even in Jalandhar, he had got Gurparkash admitted to a convent school, wanting the best education for his son even as he himself couldn’t study further than class 10 due to financial constraints. He joined the Army to support the family.
“We were moving to Chandigarh later this month. He wanted to get our son admitted to a new school from class I. Our son was born after 18 years of our marriage after several complications and miscarriages. The only person whom he loved the most in the entire world was our son. I do not know how Gurparkash is going to live without him now,” says Sukhjit Kaur (42), his wife.
Martyr Jaimal Singh first supported the education of his siblings and later his son. His married sister Harwinder Kaur said, “My elder brother was the only one who had fought with my parents when they discontinued my schooling after class 8. We were a poor family. He joined the army to support us, to feed us.”
On Thursday, Jaimal who lived at army headquarters in Jalandhar with his wife and son before getting posted in Jammu a few months back had spoken to his wife around 8 am on that fateful day. “He told me that he was filling in for another driver who was on leave for to his son’s marriage. He said he will call back. That call never came,” says Sukhjit, bursting into tears.
“He and Gurparkash used to speak on phone at least 5-6 times a day. Both would speak for hours over video-call and Gurparkash would tell him everything that happened during the day — his school, homework, friends — their day started and ended with each other despite being physically apart. When together, both would click so many selfies. Before blaming Pakistan and external forces who conspired this deadly attack, I want to question our own government, how did an explosives-filled vehicle manage to reach near CRPF vehicles. It is because of negligence and failure of our own government that this happened. Do they have any answer as to how my 5-year-old son will live without his father? They were each other’s life,” says Sukhjit.
It was after his son’s insistence that Jaimal Singh had purchased a Swift Dzire car. “He used to fulfil his every wish. Gurparkash would call him and say ‘papa jaldi waapis aajo, tuhaade bina jee ni lagda..’ (Come back soon, I don’t feel good without you). My son is gone. I have nothing to say or ask from the government. He sacrificed his life for us, for the country. May no more mothers lose their sons like me,” says mother Sukhwinder Kaur.
Balbir Singh, his uncle, recalls how the family rose from extreme poverty when Jaimal’s father Jaswant Singh used to collect and distribute milk in the village. Even now he is a pathi (priest) earning a few thousand rupees occasionally. “The family never owned any land to practise farming. His father worked as a milkman. Jaimal learnt driving, got a license and entered the Army. He started earning and then his brother Naseeb Singh moved to Malaysia. He loved watching and playing cricket,” he says.
“Take revenge of my son’s death. They have killed 40 of our men. Kill their 200 so that they know what this pain is like. Had Prime Minister Narendra Modi really done something, this would not have happened. He is only talking but doing nothing. Kisi ne ni samajhna saade dard nu.. (No one can understand our pain),” says father Jaswant Singh, 60.
One thing that he will remember forever about his son, he chokes and says, “Bachha aagyakaari si… (He was an obedient son). He always respected me. He wanted me and my wife to move to Jalandhar and live with him. He would say that our grandson misses us. I will regret that we did not go.”
The family has demanded that the government should now take responsibility of son Gurparkash’s education. “We want the government to bear the expenses of Gurparkash’s full education ahead. That is what Jaimal wanted and worked hard for his entire life. His son is not even aware of what is going on and that his father is not coming back. He is so young that memories of five years he spent with his father will also fade away,” says Balbir Singh, his uncle.
Meanwhile, childhood friend Gulab Singh stood in disbelief outside Jaimal’s home, waiting to see his friend for one last time. He remembers, “We used to play kanchey (marbles) together. So big was his heart that he would distribute marbles, even the ones he won, among poor children. He would never take even those marbles home which he won. He always gave and today he has even given away his life.”