Pillar of strength: Karpal with his beloved wife Gurmit Kaur.
Karpal Singh’s wife Gurmit Kaur had always been the rock in his life. Theirs was a love story that began when they first met when he was 16 and she was just eight. Below are excerpts from an interview with Gurmit by Chin Mui Yoon which was published in The Star on Sept 10, 2006, two years after he was disabled in an accident.
THE outspoken politician Malaysians know so well, never once approached the girl he had his eye on for a decade.
“He had set his sights on me a long time ago, but I was too young to know.
“There was always this guy looking out for me. I’d come out of school and sometimes he’d be at the bus stop. At the library where I frequently went, he would sit quietly in a corner.
“The best thing about Karpal was that he never approached me until I finished my Form Five. He waited for me till I was old enough to understand such things. Then he finally came up to me and asked if we could be friends.
“He went like: ‘Can I meet your father? It’s because I want to marry you!’ That’s Karpal for you. He wanted to get my parents’ approval before we proceeded in our friendship. Through the year as I did my A-Levels, the Penang library was often our dating spot.
“When he came to ask my father’s blessing for our marriage, my father told him, ‘There is no one better than you whom I can get for my daughter, there is no better son-in-law I want.’ Karpal always recited that to me!”
Prior to the accident, his routine was to wake up to coffee and then potter around the garden with the dogs. There are no more walks although he continues to enjoy the company of his bulldog, aptly named Babbar, which means “lion” in Punjabi.
Unknown to many, one of Karpal’s hobbies was drawing little cartoons. He liked making birthday cards for his children, each card having a hand-drawn picture and story.
“On my birthday on May 10, 1987, when Karpal was under ISA detention, I was feeling particularly down and lost, and went to his office. Suddenly an assistant ran in calling, “Mr Karpal has sent you a letter!”
“Inside the envelope was a little card with a drawing on it. It started off with ‘To my girl in blue’ … You see, I had a lovely blue frock when I was nine or 10 which I wore everywhere. He remembered that!
“That was the most beautiful thing he had ever done just to tell me he was still there and that he loved me!
“I don’t know how he managed to get that card delivered right on time,” says Gurmit, her eyes misty, adding that she had the card framed.
While Gurmit refuses to give up hope that Karpal will one day be able to walk again, she also realises that they have been lucky.
“A doctor told me that Karpal could’ve very easily died. But his life was spared. Once when I was driving around in tears, I kept seeing disabled people: there was a blind man, another had no legs....
“That was when I realised how lucky we were and how much we take things for granted.”
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Karpal the politician
Karpal the lawyer
Old days of Karpal
From hospital to his home