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Home Coming

September 6, 2010
When I reached this small village situated in the vast Gangetic Plains in India on 13.02.2009 after a gap of 2 years, it seemed the same to me. Nothing had changed drastically. It seemed like living through the ‘Malgudi Days’ of R.K. Narayan.
The kids playing on the street, swearing at each other, kicking the dust in the air, girls playing with the stones, ladies talking to each other, men playing cards on the patio of their shops, sound of the ‘Dholak’ in the air, smell of the air. It was all the same. The shopkeepers still talk after a car leaves and question when a person returns.
To wake up to my mother screaming at the maid. Small kids calling themselves ‘Tendulkar’ and ‘Dhoni’. The sound of the bat striking the ball is like Beethoven. Lying on the bed with mom or sister serving everything there, life seemed like perfect. In the night, sitting next to granddad and listening to him. They still seemed exciting and funny though I have heard them umpteen number of times by now.How spoilt he was? I guess being a spoilt brat runs in my family from granddad to me through my dad and brother.
It is the wedding time in Aliganj. My house is full of invitation cards but I wont be going to any of them as usual. My parents and grandparents would not approve of me socializing with the locals even now when I am 23. In the childhood, the excuse was they are always fighting and swearing. You will also become like them and now it has become, what will you talk with them?
The occasion for me to be in India is my sister’s wedding. I was handled the duty of writing the cards with my grandmother telling me the names. She has not changed at all. It does not surprise me. Even for the cards, she told me the nicknames of the people and not their formal names. I tried correcting her but she did not want to listen to me. She just chided me.
The sight of a hospital in the usual cricket playing compound was heartening to see. It was relieve to finally see the first hospital in the village in place of broken buildings called hospital complex. Usually, teenagers played sports in the compound – even soccer.
On the 14th February, I really became desperate for a cup of coffee. So I took a walk to the market to the shop at the main crossing in the village. I was in for a shock. The shop did not have the familiar face of the person whom I called ‘Chacha’ for 23 years. He always gave me more than the commerce in the form of his childhood anecdotes with my Dad and Uncle. They were smoking buddies. As I walked back I started reminiscing all the stupidities I had done at his shop. The evening walks with my Dad in the summer for the Gold Spot in the 90’s to Grand Dad’s tobacco 2 years earlier.
Everything seemed like yesterday. It never felt I had been away for 2 years from this place. I am home finally. It is my paradise. Though it has it’s own flaws like no internet, no electricity, heat, no fast food restaurants but it is my paradise. It is my home – the best place in this world.
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From → Social Science

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