Tribute to a departed friend
Venkat Raman –
How do you write about the death of a dear friend? Do you know how fast it takes a human to feel helpless at the hands of fate? How you seen a grown up man cry?
Ganges Singh was a different kind of person – never at odds with the good, never anchored ill-will and ever ready to help.
He passed into a better world on Sunday, August 21, 2016 after a brief illness.
More than 2000 people attended a ‘Celebration of Service’ held on Thursday, August 25, 2016 at the Pukekohe Indian Association Centre followed by a private cremation.
He left this world rather early- he was just 79, short of three months to becoming an octogenarian – just as he was early to come into this world.
Born at sea aboard ‘SS Ganges’ carrying his parents (the late Bakshi and Udam Kaur Singh) migrating from Punjab in India to Fiji, he needed special care as a baby who arrived a little too soon. His passion for hard work took his career through a variety of jobs beginning with the Public Works Department in Fiji.
He migrated to New Zealand more than 55 years ago.
He was perhaps the first and only dairy, fruit and vegetable shop owner in Albany (North Shore City) in 1962. About eight years later, he moved to Pukekohe to become a market gardener, a profession that he pursued for the next three decades. He launched his working life with the late Juwula Singh, who was to become his father-in-law a while later.
Farewell, Ganges, my friend, you made not just your wife Pritam Kaur, son Rashpal, daughters Tasbir and Parjeet and four grandchildren poor, but many of us as well.
I would forever cherish the long meetings and telephone conversations that we entertained with each other for almost 17 years.
New Zealand will not forget that you had a series of firsts to your credit. You were the first Punjabi to be awarded a Queen’s Service Medal (QSM), the first Trade Union Leader to represent the Indian community, the first person of Indian origin to be elected President of the Association of the Justices of Peace Inc and many others.
Your list of accolades, citations and awards is too long to be listed here. Suffice to say that you deserved more.
(Photo Courtesy: Dave Pope Photography)