‘Narayanpur, TarabGanj, Gonda’. Rediscover Your Village Your Roots.
It seems that a lot of us have become very distant from our villages and our roots. I have fond memories of the village my family hails from, but I realise that over the years I have become distant – very distant.
Amongst my childhood memories sit recollections of the summer breaks when we would board a train from Delhi to Lucknow, and then bus to Gonda before reaching my Dad’s village – Narayanpur. The train journey consisted of reading comics, eating poori-sabji, playing board and card games. We would wait for a bridge to come so we could drop coins out the window into the river below, or just stare out the window at the changing scenery.
I was very close to my Aaji and my Baba. My Aaji only spoke in Avadhi and Hindi, and the minute we reached Tarabganj, the greetings had changed – it was suddenly “Jai Ram Ji Ki”. It felt as though everybody knew us.
My eyes would search for Aaji and Baba, we had a House, a Kuchha House, which was buzzing always with activity, and we would wash our hands and feet outside the house as was the rule and get inside, Aaji would hug me tight and wonder how tired we all must be with the long journey and dust, and dirt in the way. I did not care, would look out to meet all the Chacha’s and Bua’s and Listen to Baba.
In the mornings, my Aaji got up very very early. She always prayed to the Sun God, and would go and look at the cows – she actually used to talk to them and I used to laugh at her, saying “Aaji, they do not speak Avadhi”. Then Aaji, would tell me she is making my favourite Toor ki Daal, and Aloo ki sabji. Aaji was a vegetarian, and I loved non-veg food but her hand made daal and aloo ki sabji was so tasty. She would tell me Bitiya, ‘hum kehet rehen ki ek din Tohe ye samajh Aayega, ki Hum Kahen nahin Khaat hain Meat aur Machhi.”
She was so busy, but would always find time to give me some time, and tell me things which possibly then made no sense, no sense at all. She would always talk about taking care of the greens and would tell me “kahe ye sab Pedh kaat det Rahen” and get tears in her eyes. She worshipped the Tulasi Plant, and lit a diya and regularly checked on the cows, from their food to their mood. I just loved being with her.
Baba loved showing me the farm, it was thanks to him I understood the root vegetables, climbers, shrubs, herbs, etc. He told me stories, stories of Brave Rajput Kings and his own experiences of the Freedom in 1947, war of 65, etc.
This had become the pattern, every summer we went to the village. I still remember I was in 6th Class, and Papa had gone to the village and was getting Aaji to come and stay with us. I was waiting for school to finish and rush home. But, as soon as I reached my house I saw a crowd of people, outside all very sad. Aunty who lived next door, told me beta Aaji passed away.
How could this happen, Papa was to get her and I had made so many plans. No, this could not happen.
She, suffered a heart attack in the journey and Papa took her to the hospital, but it was a major heart attack, and she did not survive. I lost interest in studies, playing with my friends, just wanted to be with Aaji and Baba.
That changed everything, I lost interest in eating Non-Veg and just stopped having non-veg food completely. Mum and Dad were concerned, and we went to the village for the ceremonies, I went to look at the cows, and Chacha told me her favourite cow is not eating anything, ever since Aaji Passed away, and the tears were there, the cow was crying. After, a few weeks we heard the cow too passed away.
Baba was spending more time between us and my Chacha at, Mirzapur. Baba, had a few sets of Dhoti Kurta and Kurta Pyjamas all in white, and he would personally hand wash them and make sure to iron them himself, he never wore a wrinkled or crumpled outfit.
It was raining one day, and Baba was making Bhuttas while I was watching him do it, he was telling me how to know it’s done. He narrated a story of a chess player and I asked him if he could teach me.
Next Day, when I got back from school, Baba had the chess board and he told me how it is laid out and how it is played. I loved playing chess with him and got better and better each day thanks to him.
Today, sitting in London I look at how as a person all this has deeply influenced me. Aaji, the talks with you on valuing the warm rays of the sun when you worship and you feel so positive is precisely what I experience when I offer Water to Surya Devta, I feel good when I have a lit Diya in front of Tulsi ji. I actually love seeing cows in the farm.
Baba, your stories motivated me, the chess you taught me is what I taught my son, and he enjoys Chess a lot.
Thanks a lot Baba and Aaji for all that you have done. I have made a promise, I will go to Narayanpur and connect again with all the Relations, and wish ‘Jai RamJi Ki” and yes, Aaji Ayodhya is where we will bow our head and take the blessings.
I have one regret, I kept my kids away, the charm of the western world, education outside, and all that made them lose the deep connect I had with my Grand Parents, but I am making amends. Sunday Virtual Tambola gets them all together. Do it, get your kids connected with their Grand-Parents, it could be anything from Cooking to Puzzles to Antakshari, please connect the children with their Grand-Parents, they need it more now than ever. The Covid issue is taking a toll on the mental well-being and we need to connect and keep the positivity going.
There is a lot that you can learn from your Grand Parents and Elders. Make a new beginning, spread joy and happiness and learn things from them, not everything is available on Google & Wikipedia.