My village is awe inspiring -- pollution free and quiet. Different shades and colors of waving crops and trees - solitary, in groves or avenues - beautify the landscape. The scene changes after the harvest. The air is always fresh and fragrant with the smell of earth. The only sound is singing of birds, ringing of cowbells and sighing of wind or some youth loudly singing
or Mirza Saheban at night. One sees butterflies fluttering, ladybirds creeping and squirrels jumping around and you can see people partying with squirrels. Relics of some dilapidated temple and dharamshalas are also hanging out indicating the antiquity of the village. To me the place feels like a paradise.
Dr. Senta Siller (left) and Dr. Norbert Pintsch (right) with my mother and the clan
My roots are in the village where nobody seems to be in a hurry. Every time I go there, from the different cities where I happen to be living, I take small things like candies and toys for the kids of neighbors and my own extended family in the village and they are so happy that the words cannot explain their delight. From the village I bring everything, and more than everything I bring lot of love.
"I help my neighbors and my neighbors help me", is the philosophy of life in our village. Faith, sharing, contentment, grit, hard work and humor are few others. There are no marriage halls or other renting places. Daaras (community centers where cultural diffusion takes place) are very useful 'institutions' for functions or for elders to sit and teach irreplaceable heritage of ideas to the younger generations. The learning that passed on to me in Daara in my village turned out to be very precious: it was the legacy of the fable. Tandoor (oven for backing bread) is still a meeting and talking place for women.
Guests of one family are shared by ever one at the time of marriage (or death). Hospitality is like one of the cultural benchmark, as villagers strongly believe that a guest comes with the blessings of Allah Almighty. Pull a hay cart into the shad, to rest, to dream. You shall be served with hookka (Hubbell-bubble), water and food. Cooing crows are still considered as a symbol for the arrival of guests in my village.
From our village, a group of students used to go to nearby town (Mandi Bahaud Din
) for attending school (and then college). Murad was my buddy in the group. After completing education, my dreams become out of control and took me on the darker roads of the life whereas Murad, equipped with ten years of education (Matric), stayed back and started farming in the same village. He was a hardworking, gentleman, economically very sound and not very ambitious. Murad’s father married him early and now his son Aslam has grown into a very find young man. This time I went to my village and happen to meet Aslam. I was so amazed to learn that Aslam Murad knew so much about me. This is a sort of friendship (call relationship) that still breeds in the rural areas.
This time, when I was coming back from the village, lot of people - family members, peers and neighbors came to see me off, as always. My mother had packed my vehicle with vegetables (fresh from the farm), atta (floor), husked rice and even a few live chickens. Everybody was advising me to consume everything back in the city, as "they are fresh, pure, nutritious and desi". On my way back, a question kept coming in my mind: how much time this simple society will take to become complex and when will 'development' change the outlook of the villagers to life?
A cluster of memories - some overlapping, some isolated of 'the village boy' I once was - is a shadow of my life. I am a result of my childhood experiences
. After having knocked on all the doors of opportunity that came in my way in life, I still cherish those shadow memories. Which is why I love to visit my village whenever I can?