A Punjabi Dalit lost his three young sons in a road accident, which left him childless. His wife wanted him to marry another woman for a child. But instead of remarrying or adopting a boy, Balwinder chose to adopt a baby girl. In a state like Punjab, Where boys are preferred over girls, Balwinder’s act of adopting a girl has its own significance. Here is his story.
Balwinder Kumar was living the life of his dreams. He led a musical group Binder Qawaal and the party was flourishing. His group used to get invitations from across Punjab to perform in Hindu jagratas and Muslim dargahs. The group’s success was special for him as his three young sons were part of the group. Not only were they sharpening their singing skills but they also used to bring a major chunk of the group’s income home.
He decided to build a home and his three sons played a vital role in designing and building a big house. Hailing from a landless Dalit family in the Hambowal village of Punjab’s Ludhiana district, it was a big achievement for Balwinder. Kumar considered himself lucky as he had a steady flow of income and obedient kids. After constructing the home, he and his family went to pay their respects to a religious shrine in Gogamedi Village in Rajasthan’s Hanumangarh district.
Unfortunately, on September 30, 2016, when they were returning home in a pick-up vehicle, it got hit by a speeding truck and overturned. Then their vehicle got hit by another vehicle from the rear at Sainivas village in Bhiwani district. Balwinder lost seven members of his family including three sons Prabhjit (21), Manpreet (20) and Surpreeet (17) in a road accident. The others who died included his brother Roshan who was also part of his musical group.
Recalling the incident, 50-year-old Balwinder says, “After getting hit by the truck, first I went to check on my younger son, he had died. Within 5 minutes of the incident, I had checked on everyone including 3 sons, 1 brother, 2 nephews and 1 sister-in-law, most of them died on the spot. It was like we got hit by a storm which took away everything with it.”
Talking about his kids, he added, “My sons were well-educated. One had done a computer course, another one had completed his BA(Music) and the youngest was studying in 12th. They had started going with me to perform on stage since they were in class 3. Two elders having completed their education were completely focusing on singing Qawalis. Our musical group was growing and reaching new heights. We used to earn 20-25 rupees for performing for a few hours daily. Now I don’t make that much money”.
Highlighting the after-effects of the incident on his life, Balwinder added, “That incident had left me shattered. I used to cry a lot. But my wife and I never blamed God for anything. Perhaps it was our fate. Sada rab nal koi gisa gila nhi (We are not angry with God). God is the creator of the world, how can we be angry with God? Asi kehnde ha ki rab ji teri mauj hai( We say that God it’s your happiness, whatever you did is right).”
As the road incident had left them childless, Kumar and his wife wanted a baby. But doctors told them that due to the age factor, his wife won’t be able to conceive. Kumar’s wife wanted him to marry another woman just for a child. He said, “Meri ghar wali kehdni mai tera vyah karna. ine meri maa nu apne wal kar liya(My wife wanted me to marry another woman. She had even convinced my mother) Our relatives too were pressuring me to marry. But I refused to marry.” Kumar added, “Then we decided to adopt a baby.”
Balwinder and his wife adopted a newborn girl in November 2019. It’s a well-known fact that Punjabis generally prefer boys over girls. According to a report in Indian express, the sex ration in Punjab fell from 893 to 886 in 2019. When asked why he adopted girl, he said, “Relatives wanted me to adopt a baby boy but I said If God wanted us to have a son then at least one out of three would have survived. So we decided to adopt and raise a girl. These days girls care more about their parents than boys.”
Not only Balwinder adopted a girl but he also celebrated Lohri with her.
“We were happy. (Bada chaw sanu ohda) I spent around 2.5 lakh rupees on her Lohri celebration. We named our daughter Suneha Bains. She loves me”, Balwinder said.