Balwant G. Singh
Born in 1934, Jammu (J&K)
I connected with Balwant aunty, who most graciously opened her home in Srinagar to our family while we visited, after having lost our own. The invitation extended year after year.
A strong and brave woman, aunty is a sister to two brothers. In her youth she was called ‘Meena Kumari’ (a beautiful actress from Bollywood) and had a huge fan following which is why I see her as ‘कश्मीर की कली’. However, no boys or men dared ever to give her a hard time as she was known to be a tough hand.
A major life event…..
Marriage was a major life event for Balwant aunty. As it was also the most challenging part of her life, I shall elaborate more further in our story.
Joyous moments in various stages of life…
“In my childhood I was a tom-boy and playing pranks on strangers on the street was a passion for me”, shared aunty. “I mastered the art of using the catapult, much to the annoyance of my father.”
Later in the years, after she got married, helping others was something that gave her most peace and happiness. For instance, there was a huge storm of issues in one of the families closely known to her. With her skills, she helped re-establish harmony.
Visiting Kazakistan gives her immense pleasure now as it is so much like Srinagar but peaceful and clean.
(Video edited by Taruna Hooda)
The most challenging time in life and how it was overcome….
Her marriage gave her very tough times under the surveillance of her mother-in-law and sister-in-laws. She felt like a prisoner in her own home. However, instead of brooding, Balwant aunty finally formed a group of like-minded friends and counseled neighbors and those who needed assistance in their domestic issues. She also taught children who couldn’t afford schooling, in her own garden. This gave her strength to overcome her struggles.
Something special that makes the heart beat with love, now……
What I have noticed in the last few years, aunty loves having family and friends around her. She is extremely fond of her lovely grandchildren and often talks about them.
The present desire….
Balwant aunty hesitated to share her present desire despite me questioning several times. I called her daughter Pamela and the one thing she had to say was, “Mummy wants to go back to her roots in Srinagar. She feels happiest and most active there.” I recall how during our stay with her, aunty would always like to go to Dare-Es-Salam Hotel and sit by the serene Nagin lake, savouring walnut tarts and hot kahwa (Kashmiri tea).
A message for all….
“Please help people, probe into their difficulties and try to solve their problems. Be helpful.” Her heart seemed to pour out with compassion as she said this.
On talents, individual qualities and sharing….
Balwant aunty proudly shared how the use of the catapult and the perfect aim has been her talent as a youngster.
Her eldest daughter Pamela shared how she did her Master’s in Punjabi and wrote articles and poetry for a magazine called ‘प्रीत लड़ी’ (Preet Ladi). She also did some radio programs with her works. An extremely talented and inspiring lady indeed.
In addition to sharing a lot of her time in counselling and advising others, she has facilitated people from an economically difficult background, to become independent.
We have all enjoyed the delicious plums and cherries grown in her garden as well as the mouth watering plum pickle she distributed amongst family and friends.
-by Kangan Badhwar