My Maturing Experience

By on Sep 12, 2011 in Fiction

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My Maturing Experience graphic

When I first saw Amrit, she was sixteen. I was dazzled by her beauty. It was evident to me that God Brahma was in a relaxed, cheerful mood and had spent a long time to make such a perfect specimen. She was the only child of the Thati Village chief, and her parents adored her. She was tall and slim with light brown skin and large brown eyes which could charm a cobra in two seconds. When she sang hymns at the temple, the birds stopped chirping, flies and mosquitoes ended their buzzing, and the congregation froze in their seats. I was in the congregation. I was spellbound, and the hot weather and rattling fans didn’t distract me.

However, her Karma had ruthless plans for her: She would be made to lead a torturous, miserable life in which she would suffer and beg for her death, but her Karma wouldn’t show any mercy. And her devoted parents and admirers would be unable to end her suffering.

Let me narrate her tragic, painful story: In 1930, I was studying at Khalsa College, Amritsar. My classmate, Mohan, a tall, handsome person, was the only son of the richest jagirdar (aristocrat) in our district. He was getting engaged to Amrit. He begged me to accompany him to the Thati Village in disguise and see Amrit as she prayed at the gurdwara (Sikh temple). Our customs didn’t permit him to see her before marriage. So this was the only way he could see Amrit. It was a risky affair. If discovered, we would have been clobbered, and he would have lost the chance to marry a girl who was so much admired by the people.

We pasted on white beards, wore white turbans, and walked with the help of walking sticks. Dressed like this, we reached Thati Village Gurdwara and attended the celebrations of Guru Nanak’s birthday. We sat cross-legged on the carpeted floor in the middle of the congregation facing the dais. The priest stood up and announced, “Now our chief’s daughter, Amrit, will sing two shabads (hymns) for us.”

Our eyes were focused on the dais. A gorgeous girl stood up and walked to the dais. She sat behind the harmonium, and the tabla (a pair of small drums) man sat behind her.

Mohan’s eyes flew wide open, and he took a deep breath. I was amazed. Soon melodious music filled the hall and resounded from the walls. Mohan froze like a statue. After she finished her singing, Mohan pinched me, and whispered in my ear, “Let’s shoot out.”

We came out, put on our shoes, and walked out of the village. As we came out in the fields, we entered the tall corn field and removed our disguises.

“Let’s sprint to the Grand Trunk Road, and then we will talk,” I whispered.

We came out as young men and heaved a sigh of relief. If anybody had found us at that place, we were prepared with our excuse: “We were going to the Golden Temple.”

On reaching the busy road, we sat on the wooden chairs in a dhabba (a cheap eatery) and relaxed with tea cups.

“Well, Mohan you have seen you future betrothed. What do you think about her?”

“Holy Cow! She is prettier than goddess Parvati,” he said.

“What about her singing?”


“Mohan, you’re a lucky fellow. Don’t make any missteps; behave like a saint.”

“No staring at any other woman. Once I marry her, I’ll do everything to keep her happy.”

We reached our hostel and resumed our studies.

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Born in Punjab India, Raghbir Dhillon's father was an English professor and famous writer. He excelled academically, graduating first in his class in college with a B.A. and topping the university when he earned a BSCE in 1947. For 11 years he was a railroad engineer in India before immigrating to America, where he earned his MSCE from Purdue University. He served with several consulting firms in America, retiring in 1987 as chief engineer with Campbell & Associates. Together with his wife, he has written 90 stories and had a few of them published in Indian papers and American magazines. They have also completed four novels.