Wednesday, February 21, 2001

Born and Brought Up

Kufri -- My birth place, Kufri, is located 8000 feet above the m.s.l., approximately fifteen kilometers north of Shimla. It is known for its winter sports, like skiing and skating etc. It is a major tourist attraction which is invariably included in the itinerary of those who visit Shimla. No, my parents had not gone there for an excursion or a trek but my father was posted there in an office with its headquarters at Shimla. This was his second job after he left Indian Army, having participated in the second World War.
I am told that on the day of my birth when my father came home from the office in the evening, my mother developed labour pains, as she was carrying me. Putting my mother in the care of some neighbors, my father rushed out to arrange for some help and in his absence i rushed out to see the light of this world. Kufri was a small village at that time, devoid of any hospitals or nursing homes etc and evacuation to Shimla would have been out of question, taking into account the arduous slope of Shimla -- Kufri road (and here i am talking of the fifth decade of the twentieth century). When my father came back home, accompanied by our family midwife (daayee), named Maghi, whom he fetched from her nearby village to attend to my mother, i was already there to welcome him with my baby howls. That is how my life journey started.
My first photograph

I don't have many memories of Kufri, because i was very small when we moved out of that place, since my father was posted back to the headquarters at Shimla. But i do have faint memories of a beautiful lush green slope visible from our house. I also remember some kids carrying lots of balloons, perhaps that was a party. Also some kids playing with crackers on the hill slope and an old lady shouting at them. But when i narrate these memories to my family members, particularly my elder siblings, they just shoot me down, saying that i was too small to have remembered any thing of Kufri.

 Shimla -- This was the place where i spent next two and a half decades of my life. Since my father's job was a non transferable one, we stayed in the same house during those twenty five years. It was a rented accommodation and five or six more families stayed there in that large three storied building called Laxmi Niwas. It had typical hill area building looks with red brick work and a slanting red roof with lots of glass panes fitted on the green windows and doors all around. Unfortunately that building is lying in a dilapidated condition now. Its owner desired to convert this building into a residential hotel after all the tenants vacated it. But his wishes don't seem to have fructified. Whenever i visit Shimla and pass by the said building located on the main circular road, it certainly pains me to see our erstwhile home lying in that state. I pray to God that He may give me enough funds and strength so that i can purchase the same and restore its earlier look.

The present state of the building (Laxmi Niwas) at Shimla which was once our lively home and was full of life till 1984. This picture was clicked by me during my recent visit to Shimla in June 2011

I went to my kindergarten at Grammar School which was located on the mall road near where now Shimla's famous lift is located. I remember my first day in the school when the teachers had given me a tri - cycle to ride as i was reluctant to stay back in the school after my mother left me there. But once i got hold of the cycle, i was reluctant to let any one else come close to me. One of the teachers had remarked that this 'sardar' child would be a difficult case to handle. I don't remember how they were able to part me and the cycle later on.

I still remember my first crush when i was in third or fourth standard. The object of my love was not any class mate but my class teacher. I used to sing a little bit right from my childhood. One day when we were asked to sing songs in the class room by the class teacher, I sang "एहसान तेरा होगा मुझ पर.... मूझे तुमसे मोहब्बत हो गयी है. मूझे पलकों की छायों में रहने दो". When at the end of the session the teacher asked me that for whom had i sung that song. I very innocently replied "for you ma'am" The class burst into laughter. love is love after all. 

Shimla is the place where i studied, played, dreamt, sang, acted, wrote, rebelled and learnt many a lesson of life. Here i grew up from a child into a boy. I made friends and foes, experienced love and hate. I had a group of friends with whom i would go trekking and camping in summers and skating and sledging in winters. I did my school, college and part of university at Shimla. I will have to write a separate post to describe my memories of Shimla.

No comments: