Makhan Lal Kaul (Karihaloo) – In Memoriam

Makhan Lal Kaul (Karihaloo)
(1932 – 2010)
In Memoriam

Makhan Lal Kaul (Karihaloo), husband of late Kanta Kaul (Sapru), passed away on October 27, at about 10:00 A.M., in Woodbine Rehab-Healthcare Center, in Alexandria, VA. He was in the nursing home for about the last 15 years suffering from crippling health. Today his family believes that God granted him the utmost compassion by taking him in His fold. He was 78. He was cremated on 11.1.2010 at National Funeral Home, Falls Church, VA.

He is survived by his daughter Renu Heck, of Centerville, VA and son Rajiv Kaul, of Virginia Beach, VA. He is also survived by seven grandchildren: Bradyn Heck (18), Ariauna Heck (17), Serena Heck (14) and Adriana Kaul (20), Gabriela Kaul (17), Stefan Kaul (13), and Julius Kaul (12). He is also survived by his elder brother Radha Krishen Kaul, of San Jose, CA and elder sister Sarojini Kak, of New Delhi.

Today we mourn a quiet and a decent man, whose loyalty to Karihaloo clan was steadfast and intense. He meant what he spoke, unmindful of social norms. He was a warm relative and a good friend. He was proud of his Kashmiri and Indian heritages.

Makhan Lal’s story started in Srinagar, Kashmir, on Aug. 3, 1932, when he was born to Dama Kaul and Ded Karihaloo. That was the time Karihaloo’s lived at Fateh Kadal locality of Srinagar. The mega family comprised of five brothers, their spouses and children, and a battalion of servants. In such a large group it is easy to lose one’s identity and assume the group identity. There is a family myth that in the evenings a roll call would be taken of all the children in the family so as to keep track of them. Makhan Lal was the youngest child of his parents, after his two brothers and three sisters. Being the youngest kept him uncomfortably away from the family status and limelight, which he tried to seek throughout his life. Even though he was dwarfed by the stature of his elder brothers and sisters, he developed his own personality. He became renowned for his affectionate nature and bluntness.

Late in 40’s he moved to Simla (H.P.) along with his eldest brother Kashi Nath and his parents, as the elder brother was posted there in his job. In an environment very different from Kashmir, Makhan Lal came out of his emotional shell and developed the worldly smarts. He continued his education. Then he moved to New Delhi and later to Srinagar as his brother was posted to these places. In the Delhi phase of his life he pursued college education and he became a political activist, especially working for Indira Gandhi’s group. Returning to Kashmir in early 60’s, Makhan Lal picked up a job with Jammu and Kashmir Tourist Department. In 1965 he married Kanta Sapru, a school teacher, daughter of Janki Nath Sapru, of Education Department. They had two children: Rajiv (1966) and Renu (1967). But the dreams of the family happiness were shattered in 1969, when Kanta fell from a balcony while sighting Soviet Union’s satellite Sputnik 1 in the skies. But Makhan Lal was able to overcome this tragedy and focused his attention on the care of his children. In 1971 he made a momentous decision of his life by moving, along with his children, to U.S. He went through the usual struggle of immigrants and raised his children. He worked with several organizations, including Woodward and Lothrop. In about 1996 he developed the health problems which eventually took his life.

When we remember Makhan Lal we see him as a well-dressed, debonair, and a polite gentleman. His passionate nature was generally well concealed below his social self. If he had his way, he would have spent his life in politics. It would have provided an outlet to his pride and passion. True to his nature he was fearless in stating his political and social views.

In times to come we will miss his warmth and family pride and loyalty.

Maharaj Kaul, Suffern, New York, 10.28.10

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