40 yrs and counting, Lall’s Urdu classes in Chandigarh continue to allure many

  • Ifrah Mufti, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
  • Updated: Jun 17, 2016 17:38 IST
HK Lall taking a class at SD College, Sector 32, Chandigarh. (Keshav Singh/HT Photo)

From retired bureaucrats to brigadiers, from advocates to retired judges and from teachers to youngsters, the free-of-cost Urdu basic course running in the city for past four decades is now attracting people from all walks of life.

This year’s 40th batch, comprising 11 students, some of whom are retired government employees, aeronautical engineers, senior citizens and three youngsters in their 20s, sits in room number 2 of SD College, Sector 32.

Not only from the tricity, but people from Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh also come and take the certificate course in Urdu Amoz (exam of Class-8 level held by Punjab School Education Board) conducted by the Punjab language department twice a year.

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While some old students have even gone ahead by clearing their Class-10 boards with Urdu as an additional subject, some even pursued their graduation in Urdu, with the help and guidance of 79-year-old HK Lall, incharge of the course since 1976.

“Surprisingly, this course has always attracted senior citizens and retired officers hailing from Punjabi background the most. However, a Muslim student has been a rare case.”

The current batch recalls that how 25 students had registered for the course initially, but after three months, most of them left in between on some pretext or the other.

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Lall said, “The trend changes every year, but the benches in the classroom are mostly occupied by senior citizens who share a soft corner for the language. In past many years, the maximum strength of students that I have received in the first three months of the course is about 100 and the maximum strength that ended up taking the exam is 46.”


There are a variety of students who only attend the class to be able to read the Urdu (Nastaliq) script. Some want to write it and some want both, but leave the course without taking the exam, which is why the actual number of students who take the exam is much less than those who had got registered for the course.

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Gurprasad Singh Suchdev, 61, a student of the class, said, “I have a fair knowledge of other languages ,but I had always wanted to read and write Urdu as I felt attracted to it for some reason.”

Another student, Bhupinder Singh Kapoor in his 60s also echoed the same opinion, saying that Urdu used to be an official language of Punjab before partition and since his father knew the language, he also wished to learn it.

The first session of the course begins on January 1 every year and ends on June 30 with an examination and then the next session begins on July 1 and ends on December 30.

Lall, who will complete 40 years of his service in teaching Urdu next week, said that he had even taught Urdu to people in their 80s. “I feel glad when some of my former students still call me up to thank for making them able to understand the vocabulary used on Zindagi channel,” he said.

“Mein 24 ghanto mein sirf ek ghanta jeeta hun aur vo bas Urdu padhate waqt,” (In 24 hours of a day, I only live in that one hour when I teach Urdu),” smiled Lall.

Even when the Punjab Language department has not paid him his monthly dues worth Rs 2,500 for the past seven to eight months now, he does not complain. Rather sums up his dedication perfectly, “Urdu was my passion, which became a mission and is my obsession.”

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