PARU THAKUR CHAWLA
– A love affair beyond compare
By Arun Babani
Names, usually are single, personal and individualistic. But rarely it so happens that two names get joined so inseparably that the two becomes one name. There are many examples of this phenomenon in Hindu Mythology, like RadhaKrishna, SitaRam and so on. Coming to Sindhi cultural canvas, here too there are few instances where two names are always uttered in unison, as one word.SudriUttam, LalaMoti, MayaRahi and ParuThakur. Apart from an obvious historical reason, the fact that they have been together for almost 60 years, there is an inner, more important reason for this 'joint': not only are their names connected, but also are their minds, hearts and souls!
Eternal love stories are made of the same stuff that dreams are made of, poetry is made of, wine is made of. The love story of Paru and Thakur Chawla began as an innocent play of questions and answers. Thakur was running a magazine, Suhini, way back in 1949, from a small cubicle in Famous studios at Mahalaxmi. And Paru, who at age 16 years had joined Railways, repeatedly wrote and sent questions for a column in Suhini. That was the first introduction through written words that prompted Thakur's curiosity. A common friend took Paru once to meet Thakur in his Goregaon flat. They sat together for a few hours that evening in a personal, one to one encounter. That evening in 1949 there began their love story, that today, in 2011 has only grown deeper, stronger and wiser.
“She brought me to Satsang and I brought her to literature”, says Mr. Thakur Chawla thoughtfully. “He had to accompany me wherever I went, it was a must” Paru Chawla says cheerfully.
The life story of Paru and Thakur has naturally not been a bed of roses. Inspite of owning large properties in Karachi before Partition, Thakur landed in Bombay in 1948 with a bank draft of 68000 rupees and five brothers and sisters. They lived in a one room tenement at the time of his marriage to Paru and only Paru had a meager salary with six dependents. Life has been a constant struggle as is the story of most of the Sindhi refugees. But it has all been a worthwhile and rather joyful ride. Together they have parented three children, five grandchildren and two great grandchildren. Together they have created Sita Sindhu Bhavan where not a single fortnightly event has been missed for the last twenty odd years. Together they have written books, won countless awards and been an inspiration and example to thousands of community members all over the world. Now that is called togetherness in its 64th year!
What is most impressive about these stories is that they are not angels or mahatmas to begin with, in fact they begin as ordinary refugees, toil in turbulence, yet come a long way and finally win the game with such fine colors that they truly attain to a smiling greatness. On the surface he is a writer of stories and she is a singer of Bhajans. Look deeper, he is a singer of life's melodies and she is a writer of life's destiny. The lifelong flower of friendship has not lost its fragrance. “I'm still too attached to him”, says Paru with a twinkle of a sixteen year old in her eyes! And he? “Men are not lovers, they are thinkers and doers, or perhaps they cannot express love as a woman can, but yes, we've lived a lifelong love affair, beyond compare!!”