My Son, Ankur
There are wise souls who come to earth in the guise of small children. Their maturity and wisdom never ceases to amaze you. That is my son Ankur.
I take pride in one thing everyday. I gave this world a son who is nearer to perfection. The most important mark I will leave on this earth is my son. I may have given my son the gift of birth, but he gave me reason to live.
'Always know son, that where ever you go, I am always with you. You are happiness of my heart and sunshine and joy of my life.'
My son Ankur came into this world in November 1977. I still remember vividly, I was covering Shah commission proceedings in Delhi probing excesses committed by Indira Gandhi government during emergency. Towards evening, deputy press information officer, DPIO (Home) K S Ramanathan came rushing to press box and said Segon, rush to nursing home, your wife is about to deliver. My colleagues in the press box wished me best of luck . As I reached nursing home, my wife had already given birth to our son.
Ankur was quiet, simple, and gentle. He was a child who always looked in deep thought.
I remember, when our maid servant saw Ankur for the first time, she commented, chinta na Kare biwi ji, Teda meda hai to Kaya hua, ladoo to desi ghee ka hai. It meant that do not worry madam, so what if it’s shape is not good, it is a ladoo made of pure ghee.
However, after his mundan ceremony, Ankur's transformation became evident. He transformed into this really stunning and handsome boy, who was cutest to the highest degree.
Ankur was favourite of her grandma, Mati, as we all called her. He went for his nursery classes in a play school near our house. I took him for his admission to KG class in DAV school, Chander nagar, Janakpuri which eventually shifted to Vikaspuri. I met principal of school, Chitra Nakra who advised that let Ankur repeat one year in proper nursery class.
I was hesitant and told her that child will lose one year. But look at it this way, she said ,he will start with solid foundation and it will help him in long term. Ultimately I agreed to her suggestion and how right she was. Ankur was a topper in every class. He even topped in class 12 in school and his name is still there on honour board. Ankur was a disciplined student who never went to play unless he had finished his home work and remembered his lessons. He was also very fond of music and books. He won many awards in debates and poetry recitation. He was head boy of school in class twelve.
I was about to miss mundan ceremony of my son on Maha Shivratri day in 1980. I was away to Pakistan on a three day visit and was sure about being back well in time for the ceremony. But visit was extended by a week by Pakistan president general Zia ul Haque. It was just touch and go and luckily, I was back in Delhi just a day before the ceremony. Relatives and friends were already invited. Ankur’s grand ma Mati, stitched his mundan ceremony dress herself. The moment his hair were removed and he put on this dress, he looked transformed. I still remember that I had brought about five kilograms of dry fruits from Pakistan. Uma generously distributed the entire quantity among our relatives and friends.
Ankur is blessed with sweet tooth like his father. Both finding it really difficult to resist sweets. Once it was Shafina's birthday. Ankur was just three years old. Arrangements were complete for the birthday. Cake and sweets were laid on table. Ankur slipped in to room quietly.
As I went into room to check final arrangements, Ankur was sitting on floor with a big bowl of Gulab jamuns before him which was almost empty. He looked exceptionally happy with his eyes shining . Bowl was replenished with Gulab jamuns.
Ankur is a strict vegetarian though both his parents are non vegetarian. I think he was greatly influenced by his grand mother, who was Mati for every one. She was highly religious and a vegetarian. We tried our best to persuade him to eat eggs and non vegetarian for his healthy growth. He refused. His argument was how would you like it if some one kills your child and eats him. We were speechless. His grand ma stoutly defended him.
He is 45 now and still a vegetarian. Ankur always had great love for life, plants, animals human beings and others. At one time, he wanted to open a goshala, a home for stray animals , specially cows.
Ankur was fond of eating and his mother always served him food and snacks in big bowls. He was small and we were taking him out for lunch at a friend’s house. Our mistake , we did not brief him that food Is served on table in bowls and you take food from bowls on to your plate to eat. Ankur thought the food in bowls was for him only. He picked up bowls and kept them before him. It was embarrassing but we explained to him politely that this food is for every body.
We told our friends that Ankur is used to eating at home in such bowls Towards end of 1988, I got my posting order for Kathmandu as special correspondent of all India radio. Uma and me decided that Ankur will stay with me in Kathmandu and study in kendriya Vidyalya. Shafina had completed her schooling and she got admission in Lady Irwin college in BSc home science. She was to stay in college hostel. Uma was to continue in her teacher’s job and shuttle between Delhi and Kathmandu.
I went to Ankur’s school and met his principal, Mrs Nakra, for his school leaving certificate. Mrs Nakra was unhappy and did not want to part with one of her best students. She even made an offer. Let Ankur stay with her when I was away to Kathmandu. She promised to look after Ankur like her own son. Ultimately she agreed to issue school leaving certificate on one condition, Ankur will join DAV school, Vikaspuri only after he comes back from Kathmandu. I promised and I kept my promise. Ankur joined same school on return from Kathmandu in class ninth.
Ankur was just in class sixth, a child just twelve years of age. He knew he would have to live without his mother for next three years but he accepted decision of father and mother with a smile. Any child would have shown lot of tantrums but Ankur accepted it calmly.
My office cum residence in Kathmandu was in one of prime localities, Lazem pet. It was a double story building with huge courtyard in front. It was right opposite a five star hotel, Shangrila. Uma came with us to settle father and son in new house in Nepal. Ankur got admission in Kendriya vidyalya in class six. Indian embassy in Kathmandu looked after my administrative needs as well as my salary.
Ankur was doing fairly well at school and in September tests, he came first in class with 80 percent marks. Boy who came second just touched 70 percent. His parents were high officials in Indian embassy .When they came to know that Ankur is my son, they congratulated me on having such a brilliant son. Ankur’s birthday fell on seventh November and he invited all his classmates and friends on his birthday. Ankur was very fond of cakes and I ordered a cake from pastry shop of yak and yeti , a five star hotel. Birthday party went on well and the boy who stood second, his mother Mrs. Tripathi bought a tee shirt for Ankur, painted with her own hands as a birthday gift.
She congratulated Ankur for coming first in class. She said she is happy that some one of Ankur’s caliber had joined the school to provide tough competition to his class fellows. Mrs. Tripathi was one of the secretary level officers in Indian embassy. Uma went back to Delhi and Now Ankur was with me alone.
One day, father and son were sitting in balcony of the house, Ankur said papa it is such a big house and you have to go out for long hours in connection with your office work. I feel lonely. Can we have a dog . It will give me company and will also provide security for the house. I said good idea, let us be on the look out for a good dog. That is how Caesar came in our life. It was a sturdy, healthy, jet black dog with long hair. It was terrier breed, a typical hill dog. Caesar was a baby when it came to our house, may be three to four weeks old.
I tried my best to make Ankur feel at home and not to miss his mother and sister. Almost impossible task but I gave it my best shot. I learnt on phone his favourite sweet dishes, Besan halwa and Suji halwa. Ankur relished them and finished the bowls indicating OK preparations. I also learnt to cook paneer Bhujia , matar paneer, aloo matar , rajma channa dal and some other vegetables. I also tried my hand at making gulab jamuns
Ankur and me also played table tennis on our big table and cricket in our court yard with part of gate as wickets. For Ankur, studies always came first and play after words. He was so meticulous that he drew his own study time table and followed it thoroughly. Ankur topped in his class sixth examination. As a reward, I sanctioned one thousand rupees to him and said you can spend them as you like. His answer was he wants to buy books with this money. He took me by surprise. I smiled and patted him on back saying as you want son. I took him to biggest bookshop of Kathmandu . There was a smile on Ankur’s face and shine in his eyes as he went around book store and explored books. I suggested him some titles which I thought he should like. He selected his books, I paid the bill and we were back home.
Next year, Ankur again topped in his class and this time he wanted to buy music cassettes of his choice worth one thousand rupees. After Ankur completed his class eighth from Kathmandu, it was time for us to come back to Delhi. I kept my promise made to Mrs. Nakra and Ankur joined class ninth in DAV school Vikaspuri. Once I went for his parent teacher meeting, where we were discussing Ankur’s behaviour and I liked remarks of his class teacher, she said you know Mr. Segon, Ankur is like a thorough bred horse and you should know how to handle him. Ankur completed his twelfth, topped and his name was displayed on School Honour Board, a matter of pride for any parents.
Ankur started preparation for competitive examinations of both medical and engineering. Somewhere in December, he felt he is wasting his energies in two fields, dropped idea of engineering and appeared for medical examinations only. He qualified Armed Forces medical college as well as Manipal examination. He did not want to join Armed forces medical college and also did not want to join Manipal paid seat. Ankur also qualified Indian Veterinary council entrance examination. Ankur was always passionate about animals.
I took him to doctor Anand who looked after our dogs, Caesar and. Naughty for counselling. He told Ankur to first try for general medicine. Veterinary should be his last choice. Ankur agreed with doctor Anand. I told my son that I can pay for Manipal seat but he requested me to give him one more year. He did not want me to spend money for his medical seat.
Ankur fully justified one year given to him and qualified PMT Delhi. He went to University college of medical sciences for his MBBS degree. When Ankur topped in his class tenth examination, I got him Hero Honda Splendor motor bike, which cost at that time 40000 rupees. Driving motor cycle on Delhi roads was getting risky and when Ankur got admission in medicine, I gifted him an Air conditioned Santro car. A joke doing rounds of Ankur’s college was that your father got you bike after tenth, AC car after joining medicine, will he get you a helicopter after you get medicine degree.
After completing MBBS, Ankur wanted to go to America for his MD . He cleared examinations to be eligible for doing his MD from America. Big question was finance. All banks refused to give study loan to Ankur for studies abroad without a surety. Unfortunately, our middle income group flat in Delhi was not registered with DDA, a per requisite for bank loan. Ankur wanted to go to America at all costs. I had retired from government service at that time only. I went to Ankur’s room and made him the offer. Son you go and pursue your dreams in America. I will finance your trip with my retirement benefits which every government servant gets at time of retirement. Ankur asked are you sure, what will you and mama do if need arises for money. Do not worry, I said, we have a house, a car and above all, we are covered by Central government health scheme. To make things light, I added and you will always be there to help us if need arises. My son gave me a smile, a hug and went to convey good news to his mother and his best friend, Vicky, short for Vivek.
That is how my son went to America to peruse higher studies in medicine. The rest is history. Ankur is our pride, being immensely successful and listed as one of the top 10 doctors in America. His bond with us remains strong, and the family stands as one always.