My Manji: She cared not for herself, but for everyone

Be it stranger, friend or family, she showed love and compassion for all. She expected nothing in return - not a gift, not a kiss, not even a thank you. I noticed that she had so many friends in all the gurdwaras that we went to - A grandson remembers his grandmother

| In Memory | Malaysia | 25 Oct 2016 | Asia Samachar |
ONE FOR THE RECORD: Photo at marriage of Gurdial Singh Bhatt and Inderjiet Kaur

By Surajh Singh Bhatt

Maaf karna, but please allow me to speak in English.

Inderjiet Kaur Bal-Bhatt, our Manji and Naniji, wife of our Bapuji and Nanaji, the late Gurdial Singh Bhatt, stopped breathing early last Wednesday while we were on our way to school. Upon hearing the news, I felt devastated – losing such a loved (and loving) member of my family, one with whom I have lived ever since I was born.

Our Darling Manji was born on 1 Feb 1935 in Buntong in Ipoh, Perak. She was the eldest of two brothers: Major (Rtrd) Pritam Singh Bal and the late Arjan Ibrahim Singh Bal (ex-Customs); and a sister; the late Parkash Kaur Bal. Her father was the late Hazara Singh Bal, an ex-interpreter in the British Courts and mother the late Ratan Kaur.

SEE ALSO: Inderjite Kaur Bal (1935-2016), Selayang

Growing up, I would talk a lot to my Manji. My older cousins used to fool me, saying she spoke many languages, so I would ask her how to say things in many, many foreign languages. I would ask her to sit by the door and watch me ride my bike round and round the garden and porch. She would secretly go to the market or 7/11 to buy my brother and I ice-cream and other snacks without letting my parents know.

I was the apple of her eye. She would practically let me do whatever I wanted, never raising her hand, let alone her eyebrow. She would always help me up when I fell. She was kind, cheerful and everything good. When my parents were at work or away, Manji would quietly help our then kakak (house assistant, kakak is sister in Malay, usually used as reference to home assistants from Indonesia) in the kitchen. Manji would insist on washing and drying her own clothes. Yes of course, when she was able, she used to make paronthays for my brother Rohit and I, cooked with such passion, love and devotion.

My Manji cared not for herself, but for everyone. Be it stranger, friend or family, she showed love and compassion to all. She expected nothing in return – not a gift, not a kiss, not even a thank you. I noticed that she had so many friends in all the gurdwaras that we went to.

Ever since we started going to kindergarten and then school, as we came home, she would be waiting at the door to greet us. Now, a sight that we have tried to get accustomed to, just an empty doorway.

Inderjite Kaur Bal (1935-2016), Selayang
Inderjite Kaur Bal (1935-2016), Selayang

It is difficult to comprehend how a person like Manji could become physically immobile by a paralysing stroke. It happened in June. It was so painful to see her helpless, trying to speak, trying to hug, the only thing she could do was squeeze my hand. I remember my Manji’s eyes, she was trying to tell me that she was fine, but could only move her eyes.

She was always waiting and happy to see us when we visited her in nursing care. I remember the pain not just in her but in those who came to visit her. I looked forward to the visits every weekends and on holidays to hug her, kiss her, but these are now but bitter sweet memories. I wished everyday was a weekend or a holiday so I could visit her more.

I am glad that when my poovaji Manjit did the Sukhmani prayers in her ears, and spoke to her. She actually opened her eyes wide and smiled at my cousins Annisha and Bhavita, not once but twice. This despite her not being able to move her lips at all since the stroke. But alas, two days later she breathed her last.

While we will always cherish the good memories we shared, I will continue to pray every night for Manji, just as I have done ever since I learned how to pray since I was two: “Babaji, Manji nu Sukhi Rakheo“. May Manji rest in peace eternally with Wahegure, peaceful and free as a dove.

The vacuum that has been created will, however, remain forever. My darling Manji, we will always respect all that you went through in your hardships and distinguished ways, your ability to hold yourself with such dignity, and pride, your beauty shines in us all who were lucky to be part of your devoted family.

I know because my father always told us how Manji brought her children up through difficult times with not a single complaint. We are where we are because of our Manji and Bapuji.

For us, the Bhatts & Bals and the rest of the family, Manji, our Darling Rose, our legend, may you ever grow in our hearts as we carry you in our eyes, minds and hearts. You were the grace that placed itself, as Elton John sang, “Your candles burned out, long before your legend ever will”.

Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh


[Inderjite Kaur Bal passed away on 12 Oct 2016. Her grandson, Surajh Singh Bhatt – a Year 6 student at Kuala Lumpur-based Sri Dasmesh International School – read this eulogy at the Path da Phog ceremony at Gurdwara Sahib Selayang Baru on 23 Oct 2016]



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Inderjite Kaur Bal (1935-2016), Selayang (Asia Samachar, 12 Oct 2016)

Teja – A life devoted to Malaysian sports and history (Asia Samachar, 16 Sept 2016)

Jagir Kaur survived bloody Punjab partition in her 20s (Asia Samachar, 16 Sept 2016)