It was all good before Sukhbir Badal made this heritage street, whatever the nonsense it is. He wanted to build a plaza here and asked us to sell our shops. When we denied, he built this wall ruining the rawness of such a spiritual place. For two years this place was full of stones and cement dumps. Our shops are invisible now, people just pass by looking at this foreign architecture surrounding the area.
Our business is more than 200 years old. My great-grandfather started it. It was on full swing during my grandfather’s time. Giani Zail Singh and Partap Singh Kairon were our regular customers and very good family friends. But then we started losing our craftsmen. we used to have nearly 100 people working for us. All of them are dead now and we don’t hire immature workers, like the others. Their offspring didn’t take up this profession. So, it’s just three of us left; me, my brother and one of my sons. We get up at six in the morning, start making stuff by seven. I come to the shop by 10 and they continue the production till evening. It’s not the job to be done at my age, I’m 76, but I have to because there’s no one else I can trust. Even ‘Papadan Wala Bazaar’ (Crisp cake market) is a bygone thing. Only 4 or 5 shops are left. Nobody visits them, they are too deep in the city.
\\How has the time changed? \\
You won’t believe, I don’t wish to be alive anymore. It’s better if God grants me death. Whoever’s seen the times of 1953-54, cannot live happily now. It was so much affection among people, they lived for each other. Now all I see is hatred, it’s all a money run. our ancestors said “lod thude na, bahut jude na.” (it should be enough to meet your needs, and more should not be accumulated). We can’t revive those times. I used to have half a kg of pure butter, when they made ghee, fragrance made me so happy I would dip a bowl and drink it. Tell me a place where you can find such a happiness these days.
We have lived in Amritsar from beginning, it’s our fifth generation in the same house. My father had four brothers, they further had 3 to 4 kids each, it was all joy, a never-ending celebration. We were all one soul. It’s different now. Parents and cousins are gone, and kids don’t want to live together as a family. They want their own space and I don’t know why. They don’t understand the power of the unity, where will you go if you fall sick or a sudden trouble strikes. Family is strength, not something to run away from. This time is not for me, my time is long gone.
Story by: Gurdeep Dhaliwal