86-year-old turns author, runs school for underprivileged after retirement

  • Isha Sahni, Hindustan Times, Gurgaon
  • Updated: Jul 02, 2016 23:52 IST
Since 2004, Hassija runs a school for underprivileged children near his residence. (Abhinav Saha/HT Photo)

An 86-year-old Gurgaon resident, Jai Dev Hassija, has donned several hats in life -- of a painter, government employee and businessman. Now, in his retirement life, he has turned an author and also started a school for underprivileged children.

A resident of South City 1 in Gurgaon, Haaija has written over 10 fiction and non-fiction books based on various issues and personal experience. A passionate writer, he wrote his first book in Hindi in 1997.

“There are a total of 10 books that I have written. Nine books have been published but one book has been kept separately and will be distributed later,” Hassija said.

Though he was born in a family of landlords in Punjab, Pakistan, Hassija’s father never supported his education. From arranging tuition fee to travelling to another city for higher education, Hassija had to manage it all by himself.

“Studying was my passion. My father did not support my education and my mother used to arrange money for my fees. Once, a teacher asked me to accompany him to another city for higher education but my father did not agree. I had to leave without his permission and sustain the next one-and-a-half year without any contact with my family,” Hassija said.

His struggles did not end there. The 1947 Partition forced him and his family to leave their home in Pakistan. After coming to India, Hassija initially worked as a painter with the Northern Railways and took an early retirement as a senior inspector.

“I left the job and started a business. It was a very rough road with lots of downfalls,” Hassija said.

Since 2004, he runs a school for underprivileged children near his residence. The school has eight rooms and the students are taught five subjects -- Hindi, English, science, social science and mathematics -- up to class 4. Over 225 students attend the school.

“I saw a few children playing on the street and asked them if they wanted to study. The children agreed and I planned to take classed for them. Soon, a few more people joined and after seven years, a building was constructed. It was a long struggle to set the school and soon, we will commence session from class 5 too,” Hassija said.

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