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The perfect world of Devkishan Lakhiani[continued]

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Resettling the mind:

The trauma of resettling in refugee camps, starting life again began to change the young man. He doesn't say explicitly, but at some point then, he decided not to marry. There was work at hand. Looking for business opportunities to feed his family, helping refugees, teaching children and so on. He got sucked in.

What or who changed him is difficult to tell, for the man himself is not given to expounding on his inner life. His bookshelf is lined with Gandhi books but also on Guru Nanak and an eclectic clutch of spiritual leaders. On the wall are portraits of Ramakrishna, Ramana, Aurobindo, Sufi masters, J Krishnamurthy and several others. Prominently, Nawabhai, his mother.

The strong woman's selfless work for the family and her grit seems to have deeply influenced Dada. Some years after, the family left the refugee camp for a proper home, a single room in Chowpatty for 20 members. From here, as their small business picked up, they moved to a proper apartment in Mahim, in the 1960.

It is not easy cope with so much in 20 years: rage, imprisonment, displacement, penury and renewal. Millions have however gone through hardship caused by the Partition and have moved on. Not many have retained a robust appetite for serving those in need. Dada has.

Doing the little things:

There was the logistics of settling waves of Sindhi refugees in Kalyan, Kurla and Palghar camps. He began to teach and administer a school for children. Not surprisingly, widows were everywhere in fifties. Dada began a subscription fund to distribute small sums for their maintenance.

There was the family livelihood to look after as well. Several partners pooled their modest savings and began a lending consortium. This is a business that suits the Sindhi native genius. This business model spreads risk. Family fortune began to smile. In the seventies they also began an auto-parts factory in Agra.

As soon as he had the sizable sum of Rs 2 lakhs as his share, Dada the bachelor, used it to create the Nawabhai Khimandas Lakhiani Charitable Trust. He lives a frugal life and invests shrewdly and so has been able to make this fund go a long way.

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