These shops (around Qila Mubaarak) used to be stables of royal horses. They changed into shops as the monarchs left the fort. My father and grandfather used to work as mechanics for Maharaja Bhupinder Singh and on the side they would bring Sikh kakaars (steel bangles and wooden combs) from Amritsar and sell them in Patiala.
//When did you become a knife grinder and a locksmith?//
I completed my metric in 1965 but no one in the family suggested getting a job. We were earning more than a government employee by importing that stuff from Amritsar. Instead people used to come to us with the requests to ask the authorities in the fort for a job as we were familiar with the people inside. But it all deteriorated with in few years. In 1971, I went to Chandigarh and operated an auto-rickshaw there, my brother continued the work in Patiala.
I came back in 1972 and added knife and key making to our business. Nobody taught me this, I just watched, practiced on my own, opened few locks and fixed them back, that’s it. It’s been 40 years I’m doing this. Time hasn’t changed much for me, we are making enough to buy three meals a day for our family and to operate a normal life. If you are talking of riches, not even Badal and Amrinder are satisfied with what they have. My kids are in their forties, one of my son is also in the business and sits in the shop in the evenings.
I’m happy with what I have. There’s no tension in the family, everyone’s safe, doing some work and pushing it all forward. What can make you more happy?
Story by: Navjeet Kaur