These days, increasingly, I have to remind myself that the Sikhs are my friends.
I have to think of Khushwant Singh and his tremendous zest for life, more than that of anybody else I know. He may kill people with his pen, or run down the dead, but death can never be associated with him.
And the Bedis of the Sher-e-Punjab. I think of the number of times I have eaten in their restaurants and still do, a happy hospitable family. Their business is feeding people, not killing them.
And our very own Bishan Singh Bedi impulsive, gregarious, largehearted, cricketer, sportsman, captain. He is a man of green cricket fields, sunny skies, the roar of a pproval of the crowds. A man who has given immense pleasure to a cricket-loving nation and some pride. There can be no dark clouds around him.
And I think of the pleasure that Balbir Singh of the Western Railway has given me over the years, as, time after time, he would break through a cluster and speed with the ball up the entire length of the field to the opposition goal. Truly some of the greatest solo, performances in hockey, dash and speed and everything alive.
And I think of Jaspal Singh Gandhi. How many years I have known him! And how many whisky-sodas I have downed with him in the Society Bar! I have always believed that few things bring men closer than drinks. That is why you find no great friendships, no loyalties, among non-drinkers.
And I think of the late Mohan Singh Ahluwalia, another drinking friend. He was also a man of the regions and small disgruntled groups. Had he been alive, he would have either condemned what is happening now or had another drink to forget about it.
I can think of a lot of Sikhs. Those in the army, whose fathers were in the army before them and whose sons are in the army now as their own time of retirement approaches. I can also think of the army officer looks forward to on retirement, but that is another mater. These are people who guard the lives of others, not take them.
And all the truck-drivers that I knew and on whose trucks and through whose courtesy and hospitality I have travelled across half of India and come to know the country. To a truck-driver, the whole country is his home, wherever the road takes him.
And all the Sikhs that I have known through my life, though not as many as I would have known had I lived in Delhi. But that is no reason to live in Delhi.