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SINGAL GONE – MY EULOGY!! : Guest Author Satish Bhatnagar

Today, Rajendar Kumar Singal completed the cycle of his earthly existence. Being 83 years old, he had already witnessed 1000 full moons, a sign of an auspicious life – according to ancient traditions of India. We were introduced by a common friend in 1985 when he moved from Detroit to Las Vegas. Their three children and three of ours were in similar age groups. Eventually, our wives became very close friends. In a typical tradition of Indians of our generation, we always addressed each other by our last names – a kind of unAmerican social etiquette. 

The death of a person, whether known to me closely at present or at any point in the past, or even indirectly, does brake me down in my day’s routine. That is my emotional nature when it comes to my relationships with people. Nevertheless, it serves two purposes for me. One, it provides me with a reality check on my life, as to where I stand today and how far I am from the Exit door. This is despite the fact that I have never found a way to measure it; nor do I really care, as I try to live in the present moment to the fullest. The other reason is to look back on how the death of the departed person had impacted my life. That is also a benchmark of the quality of life that one had lived and how the others’ lives were influenced by it. Of course, there are intangible factors too. 

Singal and I left India about the same time in late 1960s to do our PhDs. We did MAs from Panjab University, Chandigarh – he in Chemistry and me in Mathematics. I was able to finish my doctoral dissertation and get my PhD. But Singal became a victim of a statistics when nearly 25% fail to get PhDs for one reason or the other. For Indians of my generation, getting a PhD was a matter of family pride too. Looking back, it was a convoluted way of thinking. Success in life can come through many doors. 

The early 1970s being the worst time for the US economy (due to the Middle East Oil embargo), the family had a struggle in terms of Singal’s inability in getting a steady and well paying job. However, they used this tough period to turn their lives around by doubling down on the academic performance of their children. Singal once told me that he had vowed that his children would never have to worry about their financial security. Eventually, it paid off big time. All three children attended USC (in California) – one is an MD (Harvard); the second one is a real estate financial investor; and the youngest one is an attorney. The Singals have been reaping the benefits of this investment in the education of their children. 

Incidentally, Singal and I grew up in the same region of Punjab that includes Moga and Bathinda. He had a robust sense of humor that I called jablian (a kind of BS). Anyway, he enlivened the weekend khane parties (eating and drinking binges) of Indians of our generation. He really enjoyed eating, which he continued to the very End. As a matter of fact, the last 2-3 years of a human life are reliving the first 2-3 years of life – total dependence on others, mostly eating and sleeping away. Generally, no one escapes this cycle.  

Another thing that I recall about Singal is concerning our birthdays. We were both born in the same year, 1939 – he in January and me in December – hardly two weeks apart in the other direction of time. Invariably, I called him on his birthday, though he never called me on mine – perhaps, he assumed my calling was enough for the two of us! I used to tease him around; we humored each other. However, last January, he did not take up my call. Instead, I ended up speaking with his wife and elder son. That was a sign of imminent Closure on his life. Thanks Singal for the memories! 

Satish C. BhatnagarPhD
Professor, Department of Mathematical Sciences,
University of Nevada, Las Vegas, NV 89154-4020

Tele: 702-895-0383 (O) and 702-895-4343 (FAX), Office – CDC 1006 Email:
Adjunct Professor, Central University of Punjab, Bathinda (2019 –  ). UNLV Faculty Senate (2018 – 2021)

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