What if someone fires you for even the minutest of your mistake or omission, is highly temperamental, speaks his mind and is absolutely blunt? Fear him? Avoid him? Dislike him? No, not quite! Not if the person in question is Mr V K Malik.
I was a young, scrawny, immature, Mama’s boy probationary officer, leaving my parents for the first time in life to report at Ludhiana office for 3 months training. I reached late in the evening and decided to check-in at a hotel as Punjab terrorism was at its peak and it was very unsafe to move around after dusk. Next morning, very unsure of myself, I reported at the branch and bumped into this gentleman. He spoke aggressively, had a tremendous gait and seemed to be a man in hurry, very unlike staid, chair bound bankers. But in no time I could make out that behind this aggression, speed, restlessness, no-nonsense facade was a very tender and affectionate heart. What he put up was just a pretence! Inside it was all very soft tender, eager to go out of way to help a needy or give comfort to even a stranger! Who was I to him? No one- a nomad coming for a few months and then moving ahead in life! I could have served no purpose to him and yet he went out of way; patiently taught me work, took care of my accommodation and meals, protected me in a strange city and virtually took me under his wings to make my stay at Ludhiana memorable!
As aforesaid, I moved on and like any ordinary selfish human being forgot him, till I needed him again at a new Centre. Again I was a nomad coming to a strange centre and this time with wife and a kid in tow! There he was like an angel – ready to come to my rescue once again and supporting me and my family till I got my bearings back.
A highly intelligent man from a very literate family, his father being a dentist and elder brothers in top notch jobs, he suffered professionally for his attitude that was uncompromising to the hilt. Always calling a spade a spade, this hierarchical system requiring boss management never suited him and he suffered punishment postings and delayed promotions till he decided to quit and avail of a voluntary retirement plan at his prime. But I have seldom seen any regret on his face. He actually feels relieved and liberated and has been living peacefully with his daughter’s family by his side. Actually both his daughters are so caring and affectionate that it belies the myth that sons are required for care during old age. He continues to display same passion for whatever he’s doing – cleaning, gardening, cooking or just reading!
What have I learnt from him ?Self respect, uncompromising attitude on certain principles, never say die spirit, daredevilry, plain speaking, meticulousness and of course, spirit of helping others with or without him or her soliciting the same!
I am lucky to have known him and on his 75th Birthday wish him, great health and life till life immemorial because people like him have so much to do selflessly for others! I wish Mrs Malik also for her rock solid support by managing children single handedly all the while he used to be away to those god forsaken places as punishment posting.