It was on the 9th October that I saw Mohinder Sir calling on my phone screen. “Tanvir, Beta Mohinder Sir bol raha huun”. How are you, Sir? I asked, you sound a little down, all well?
“I have covid and not feeling well” he said. I was worried because I know the age was not at his side.
“My wife and whole family has it and I’m quarantining in my house. Can you please talk to someone and send me a doctor to check on me?” He said.
“Of course Sir” I said but confused what to do in a situation where everyone is scared to visit someone who is unwell. I had two people in my mind and I thought l’d try. I messaged a friend, DC Srinagar, Shahid Chowdhary, “Shahid Bhai, I need a small favour from you, it’s a personal one. Our teacher in Burn Hall School, Mohinder Singh Sir is Corona positive along with his wife and has been home quarantined for 8-10 days. No major symptoms. Can you kindly send a doctor or someone to just check on them? I’ll be grateful. Warm regards” Prompt came his response that he would just do something about it. After some time Shahid sent me a message “Doctors sent, happened to be his student” I thanked him and called Mohinder Sir back.
“Sir Doctor aya tha” I asked. He got emotional and said “Beta thanks very much and started crying” I consoled him a bit and asked him not to worry. “Beta I’m just weak” he said.
This is just Covid related weakness and I’m sure you’ll fight it back. I told him.
I’ll try and talk to a doctor and he will check on you tomorrow again. Sir was a little relived I could make out. The next message was to Dr Naveed Shah the MS Chest & Disease hospital, about Mohinder sir’s illness. After a while I called him and being in the forefront of the whole covid mess I could just understand his situation, but even in this he was as affable as ever. He gave me a good suggestion that let Sir, come to the hospital and that he would have all the X-rays done and personally look into it.
It was a good idea but who would take sir to the hospital. “Can we arrange an ambulance for Mohinder Sir, Doctor Sahab” I asked Dr. Naveed. Yes, I’ll do something incase they are not able to arrange a vehicle for the hospital. I thought it was late and called sir and explained to him everything and that we could do all this. He was happy .
Next morning, I called Sir’s number numerous times but without any response. I was really worried but after a couple of days later heard that he was critical and that he was on a ventilator. That was it. I could never talk to him again. Yesterday, almost 3 weeks after I spoke to him I read a message in the Bun Hall whatsApp grou,p one of my classmate and friend Vikram Vig messaged that he had a sad news to share that Mohinder Sir had passed away, then the series of messages from other Burn Hall Students flooded the group expressing their grief . I was numb, upset like others. We just lost a great sports teacher and a noble man. Could I have done more I don’t know, and may be this will probably haunt me for the rest of my life.
Mohinder Sir was someone we all loved immensely. We were so scared of him as kids. Keeping long hair, or nails was a big NO for any student. I know of an instance when he had scissors in his hand if anyone had long hair. Later in our lives do we understand what exactly he was teaching us: The discipline that we will take with us to the grave. I remember sitting with him in his Mehjoor Nagar residence near gurudwara after 2014 floods. This man had lost so much but he was a fighter and told me; “These up and downs come my son, we should just learn from adversities.” He was a tough man but only if age was on his side I’m sure he would’ve fought covid also.
All of his students for decades have fond memories of him and his influence can never be erased. What makes him special was his mentoring style. He taught us discipline, & honestly and inspired me to be me. I spent almost 13 years in Burn Hall School from the Nursery till I passed out. I just cannot forget those formative days of my life that I spent in the school where I was taught that becoming a good human being was more important than carrying your religious tag on your forehead. It was amazing how over stepping the permissible limits would be detected by our eagle eyed teachers like, Mohinder Sir. We all had our share of spanking or admonish by him but now I realize how important it is to keep a child under leash.
Thank you, sir, for dedicating your life for the society. For teaching us the value of life, for being a father figure and for telling us how important being active is for a healthy lifestyle. Thank you for occasionally giving me your valuable advice & thank you for being a great source of inspiration.
Though my words are not enough to appreciate all the hard work you have done but when I raise my hands for prayers I’ll always pray that your soul rest in peace. You, Mohinder Sir, will be a constant source of motivation in our lives. I join tens of thousand of my seniors and junior, my classmates of Burn Hall School and many others to pay our humble tribute to our great teacher. Mr Mohinder Singh. You will always be missed till all meet again.
Gurbani says ‘jis Thakur siu nahin chara ta ko keje sad namaskara'(Sukhmani-Always bow your head to the big boss [God] in front of whom there is’nt any option).