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  • Writer's pictureL.J. Singh


During my school days, most of my summer vacations were spent at my Nankey, (my mother's parents) in Khaparkheri, a village in Amritsar. I would take along my school books and complete my vacation homework before returning home when schools reopened. I don't recollect many other visits to Nankey, but one in the 1950s will ever remain etched in my diminishing memory.

In the village, a neighbour, Uncle Shah had many domestic animals and a couple of horses. At times Uncle Shah or his son, a few years older than me, would permit me to ride their young stallion- Daboo, aptly named for its white patches on its brown body. In time I learned pretty good horse riding and would ride the stallion solo to the outskirts of the village. As the years rolled by, when I was to leave for Bombay for an interview, I decided to visit my Nankey to meet my maternal parents for seeking their blessings for my success. On reaching Khaparkheri I was elated to see Daboo again and requested Uncle Shah to permit me one last ride on Daboo. After Shah agreed, I rode Daboo and chose to take a somewhat longer journey, which led me to the fringes of another but nearby village's outskirts.

I was having a good time on my ride; Daboo was trotting and responding well to my cues. After we rode for a few miles, there was a loud hail from another horse-rider coming from the opposite direction and quite some distance away. I could not catch clearly what he was hollering about. But as he got closer, I noticed him holding a large covered basket on his thighs and yelling at me to back up with my stallion since he was riding a mare. I couldn't understand why he insisted on turning around (simply because he was riding a mare), but the desperation in his voice compelled me to comply. I tried to coax Daboo to take an about turn, he seemed to ignore my command and instead started neighing and snorting, then sauntered and galloped towards the mare. It seemed as if Daboo had stars in his eyes for the mare. Next thing I knew, the big basket was on the ground in overturned position and its contents were all over the field. Somehow I managed to make Daboo shun passion, calm down and come to his senses by returning to my own village. On reaching my grandfather's home, I narrated the incidental episode to Uncle Shah who assured me that there was nothing to worry about, but I knew it was not the end of the matter.

The damage was done to the specially prepared ladoos meant as a Shagun and had to be compensated for later. Just an hour later, the person who had misplaced the treasured ladoos in the basket arrived, joined by a few others. The matter became clearer when it was explained that those special ladoos were not merely ladoos but Shaguna de ladoos sent by the parents of the bride, to the house of her beau for their daughter's betrothal with whom her marriage was to be solemnized in a few days. The damage to the so-called Shaguna de ladoos was considered as an ill-omen, not just material loss. With the intervention of wise elders and the Panchayat members, the matter was resolved amicably. Of course, it was the result of the realization that the youngster riding the stallion was ignorant about the fact that his horse was out of his control and paid no heed to his commands. The demurrage was borne by the benevolent Uncle Shah who graciously accepted the onus, and I was cautioned with some stern advice of always being careful.

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Retd Chief Engineer(IMS)

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Inderpal Kaur
Inderpal Kaur
May 11, 2023

Very nice 🙏

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