“He may be Sidhu Moosewala to the world, but to me, he will always be Gaggu. That’s what I called him when I held him for the first time,” said Charan Kaur. “His voice sounded so sweet. Of course, a child’s voice always sounds sweet to its mother but everyone who heard him speaking and singing compared him to the forgotten melons which once grew in abundance in Moosa. They told me his name and fame would spread far and wide like the sarda’s fragrance.”
There had been a time when villagers from Moosa grew sarda in abundance. These were quite popular and much in demand not just locally but also in places as far away as Delhi and Mumbai.
“Melons were to Moosa what oranges are to Nagpur. The fruit was known by various names. Sarda, sharda, kachhre and the local popular name, chibbadd. The city-dwellers call it kharbuja or melon,” said Dr Sukhpal Singh, a leading agro-economist of Panjab Agricultural University (PAU), Ludhiana.
Joginder Singh Mann, a journalist with the Punjabi Tribune, who covered the Mansa district for the paper, recalled how, as a child, he would feast on the melons and see traders from “big cities” coming to the village for an advance deal.