Glimpses from the life of Prof. Sahib Singh
Professor Sahib Singh was born on February 16, 1892, at village Fatehvali, Tehsil Pasroor, in district Sialkot (now part of Pakistan State). His father, Hira Nand, and his mother Jumna, alias Nihal Dei, though illiterate, were very sincere, devoted and diligent persons. His father was a petty shop-keeper in the village and throughout his life had to fight hard for livelihood. A few babies were born to them, but none would survive. When Sahib Singh was born, his father was forty-five years of age. They made a small aperture on one side of the nasal wing of their new born son, and put a magical thread there, called “Nuth”, in order to ward off any danger to life. Thus the child was named Nathu Ram, His father was running a small shop for general supplies in the village, which did not yield profit to make both ends meet. He, therefore, with his family and shop moved to another village in the area, called Therpal.
When the child attained the age of four and a half years, he was admitted in a primary county school, and graduated from the 5th grade in 1902 A.D. There is an interesting story of when he was tested for promotion from 1st to the 2nd grade. Under the directions of the inspector of the schools, the students of all the primary schools were gathered at a central place. Sahib Singh tells us that his father took him to the place where all students had gathered for being tested. The poor father gave half a penny (dhaila) to his son, to encourage him, which unfortunately got lost. The inspector of schools came, and began asking questions from the students. For certain reasons, he got very much annoyed with the headmaster, Kazi Jalal-ud-din. The inspector asked the Kazi to stay aside, and in great rage he moved toward the students of 1st grade. Nathu Ram was the youngest boy in class and was sitting in the front row. As he came, in a shrilling voice he asked Nathu Ram to speak out the multiples of three. All the students got greatly scared to see his black face in rage. But Nathu Ram stood up, and stridently spoke out all the multiples of three. On hearing this, the inspector was very pleased.
Nathu Ram was 8 years of age only, when he was inflicted with severe type of typhoid fever. He was running very high fever and remained unconscious. When he regained consciousness, he asked for an orange to eat. His father went in search of oranges, when he came to know of the orchards in certain villages. Since it was not the season for oranges, it was hard to find an orange even in orchards. At last the father saw a branch of orange tree with two pieces thereon. He brought the oranges for his dearest son. Nathu Ram recovered from the typhoid fever, but next year he got an attack of small pox.. Providence so willed, that he survived from this ailment. Inspite of Nathu Ram’s ill heath for a long time, he graduated from the Primary School with distinction. As a result of Kazi Jalal-ud-din’s strong commendations, the poor father, who could ill afford to send his son for further education, got him admitted in the middle school, which was located in another village.
EDUCATIONAL PURSUITS AND MARRIAGE
The middle school was three years course. After a year’s time, Nathu Ram was promoted to 7th Grade. At that time, there was change of the teacher. The new teacher named, Pandit Shiv Dayal examined all the students of the class. The teacher asked a question from the text in some different form, which none could reply. Nathu Ram was sitting at the end of the class. When his turn came, he revealed the mystery. The teacher became extremely happy with him. Nathu Ram, with certain other students, used to go back to his village on every Saturday and then go back to the school every Monday. He, on the way, would see Sikh soldiers among other people passing to and fro on certain crossings. Nathu Ram knew nothing about Sikhism, but he was greatly attracted by the appearances of the Sikhs, and very much liked to adopt this appearance to feel strong and sturdy. As the time passed, he was more and more attracted by the Sikh appearance. He even began to think, by what name he should be called as a Sikh. He selected his name as “Sahib Singh”. He had a class mate by the name of Tulsi Ram, who belonged to village Fatehwali. Nathu Ram used to exchange his views with Tulsi Ram, who also developed similar views. He selected his new name as “Jagjodh Singh”. Now Nathu Ram was to pass the 8th grade examination, which was to be held at Sialkot, at a distance of about 42 miles from his village. There were 26 boys of the school, accompanied by their teacher, Pandit Shiv Dayal. They were to walk the distance of about 22 miles upto Pasroor, carrying their respective load of books and other accessories. Nathu Ram had weak health, was greatly encouraged by the teacher and his class mates to walk the distance involved with the load of the luggage on his head. From Pasroor, they were to be lifted in a carriage driven by horse to cover the remaining part of the distance involved. When they reached Sialkot, darkness of the night had set in. In those days electricity was unheard of, and they had to read from their books under the faint light of country lamps. After the examination, Nathu Ram came back to his village, and soon, thereafter, got married. He was then 13 years old.
The result of 8th grade examination was declared. In whole of the Rawalpindi Division, Nathu Ram attained the First position, and was awarded a scholarship of Rupees 6.00 per month. He now joined the Senior Special Class in a school at Pasroor, 22 miles from his village.