September 9, 2020 was the day when I spoke to my college junior Gurdev Singh Sodhi asking him to pass on information about work that he had been doing as a philanthropist and also forward curriculum vitae (CV)/Résumé mentioning his professional and personal achievements so that I could write an article that would inspire generations to come and sets the benchmark of quality-life to inspire many.
The very next day on September 10, 2020, texting ‘Satsrikal’, he asked for my email ID and forwarded the desired information along with several pictures of his works to be used with write-up.
Strangely, I fell sick around that time on September 14, 2020 and was bed-ridden for almost a month knowing nothing about outer world and especially ailment of Gurdev Singh Sodhi. It was only when my health improved, and I was able gain strength to clear dust off the keyboard to keep my promise and start writing about Sodhi’s work that I came to know about him undergoing treatment for his ailment at Ludhiana. Hurriedly I searched programmes and files, located the information provided by him and started writing.
Least I knew that I won’t be able to finish my write-up due to my ailment and when needed the most. I didn’t know that inbox of my phone would be filled with a ‘never to be read’ Résumé/story that he had passes on to me on September 10, 2020. I also didn’t know that it would be his last call and last few text messages that we would be sharing before he leaves a void in the lives of his family, friends, colleagues, Rotarians and all those lives that he touched with his humbleness and philanthropy.
Sodhi left the materialistic world on November 7, 2020 at Ludhiana hospital due to COVID-19 pandemic complications in his prime age leaving me shell shocked and my write-up half done. Sodhi who was working as Assistant Executive Engineer (AEE) in Power Development Department (PDD) of J&K government and functioning as Assistant Governor, Rotary District 3070 had caught infection and was under treatment at Ludhiana. Having struggled for few weeks he passed away leaving behind his mother, wife and two sons.
Amid these unhealthy and painful developments was lost an article that I had planned on his life for which he had sent me details about his works. I was determined to tell the world how good an engineer he was and how caring he was. His philanthropic work that he had done was self-explanatory, exemplary and worth putting in public domain so that world could if not imitate him at least try to reach somewhere close to his deeds. Shell shocked, I was left with no other alternative than to write ‘obituary’ of a very dear colleague and not his ‘glory’.
Trying to cope up with the loss and keep my promise with Gurdev, I am here to tell the world that Gurdev was always ready to help. Just a call away, he never said ‘NO’ for anything that was within his reach. In his own words that he had sent me, “Gurdev Singh Sodhi after doing his schooling from St. Joseph School, Baramulla in Kashmir did his bachelor’s in engineering in electrical stream from Guru Nanak Dev Engineering College, Bidar, Karnataka. Having joined Power Development Department (PDD) department of J&K and while working as AEE he had started charity at a very early age.
Being a philanthropist, he believed in ‘service above self’ and to help the people in need, joined Rotary international as the chartered member of Rotary Club of Jammu City in the 2008. Ever since then he actively participated in various projects undertaken by the club. He remained secretary of the club in 2011-12 and got the best secretary award from district. During his stint as president of the same club for the year 2014-15 he again bagged appreciations from the district 3070.
His last stint as Assistant Governor 3070 for the year 2020-21 was full of achievements, promises and dreams that were to be fulfilled but his journey into this world was cut short by the almighty. Appreciative of his District Governor Davinder Singh, a Chartered Accountant (CA) from Amritsar, he was looking forward to work with him in his new project and provide skill training to about 1000 women so that they could get empowered and make a life for themselves. He was keen to see this project getting realized in shortest possible time span.
Gurdev’s role in eradication of polio from world as part of Rotary International project was quite appreciative. Humble and honest to his profession and deeds, he had bagged appreciation for his bit in making India a polio free country. His role as part of Rotary Club team in providing hand pumps in Jammu province to provide potable water, resolution of women’s issues of water in village Kojipur, Bishnah Jammu, distribution of relief material during 2014 JK floods in Jammu and Srinagar areas, helping children with congenital heart diseases as part of “gift of life” programme and plastic surgery camp as part of “gift of smile” were all aimed at helping the most deserving person of society.
Besides such social works, he along with club members also established a book bank, distributed benches and computers, organised health and blood donation camps, planted tree saplings and joined Rotarians in providing PPE kits to doctors and paramedical staff in the line of duty during pandemic this year. However, the in real world things are usually a bit more complicated. With more such social commitments in his eyes, Gurdev left us. I had a commitment with him but we’re all humans and fallible. I was to honour the commitment I had made but my ailment came as a big hurdle.
No one is meant to live forever. This is the saddest truth of life. Shocked and pained we usually fail to find words for saying a last goodbye. As we mourn the loss, it is also necessary that we have our feelings expressed properly. Memories of a handsome boy in Red Turban and ever ready to help will never be forgotten! I will always miss you, Dear Gurdev. Now that I have fulfilled my commitment, there’s his text in my phone’s inbox that I would hardly be deleting and here’s a write-up by me that he would never be reading!