JAB HOSH SAMBHAALA
I hail from Mustafabad, once a sleepy little village near Jagadhari…Our House was one of the posh looking houses with a garden-verandah among the kuchcha dwellings of the village. Jab hosh sambhala as a kid, I used to see an old man who used to walk every morning, come and feed the ant hill outside my house with wheat flour...I used to see a cow, triggered by its biological clock, come and stand in front of our house in the morning, afternoon and evening, as my mother/grandmother used to make the first roti and feed it to her...I used to see villagers feeding the fishes with tiny bits of dough and sparrows/pigeons with grains... Now, such acts of micro generosity may seem utterly negligible, in the grand scheme of the mega universe...lekin is sansar mein praniyon ke beech ek doosare ke liye jo pyar hai, shayad ussi par yeh duniya ab tak tikki hui hai...... Those days as kids we shouted ‘Inqulab zindabad’ with small flags in our tiny hands in the streets of village.
I remember my Grandmother (addressed as Mataji) was always well dressed in her flowery grey suit…She was the Headmistress of the village school and commanded great respect of villagers…. .As a kid I once asked my Mataji about my Grandfather, and she said that he couldn’t cross-over during partition and might have been massacred by Muslims enroute…Her tears had dried long ago.…. (Wiki says In the riots which preceded the partition in the Punjab Province, between 200,000 and 2,000,000 people were killed in the retributive genocide between the religions. UNHCR estimates 14 million Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims were displaced during the partition; it was the largest mass migration in human history.) ….Amidst all this, She was a brave-heart lady, who crossed over the drawn Border with her 6 children (5 sons and a daughter) safely. My Dad was 5th in sequence and 11 yrs old then…She job-settled all her children in Jammu/Delhi and got them married…
Well, our village had kuchcha roads, but these appeared quite broad. I had gone to my childhood home in my village recently after 5 decades and was shocked to see the garden-Verandah which appeared huge those days, had shrunk to one-third its original size.... The house and room dimensions in those days appeared 3 times as of now, since we watched it from one third the height..........My fascination with aircraft started when I was four and my mother had told me that Dad was in Air Force…. and I used to admire him when he used to come on leave carrying his trunk and holdall...He had a charming personality with well kept moustache. Mataji used to address him as 'Balram'
Mataji sent me to her sister in-law’s place for nursery school learning, when I was 4, preparatory to enrolling me to her school…I was given a wooden slate and kalam-dawaat and taken to my grand aunt’s house. That house was as large as ours…She was a sweet old lady who taught me the Devnagari alphabet and Roman numerals…My home work comprised reading what was there on slate, memorize it (usually the numeric tables), then clean the slate with water, apply the moist yellowish chalk and dry it for the next day….
When my Dad came on next leave he appeared to be happy and had decided to take us to AF stn Poona (now Pune) where he had then been posted ( 6 Sqn)....We all (me, my younger brother and sister) were very excited…But, still the 5 yr old Chhota Raj was sad…Sad for his Mataji who would be left alone in that Big house…But she consoled us, “Don’t worry, I am going to Jammu for a few days to my Eldest son on summer vacations and shall come to Poona too” …. It was a tearful farewell to Mustafabad and my 'Mataji', who had come to see us off at the station… I visited that village only recently after 5 decades …. My Grandmother had breathed her last in Jammu, soon after we had left the village.….RIP