A “Home Connect” Essay by Bushra Saba:
“Now, when I visit my village, I no longer get the view of Kanchenjunga mountain as buildings have come up, the river has narrowed and encroachment has reached to its brim.”
The Home is located at a village in Bagdogra, Darjeeling District in the state of West Bengal in India. The Writer is Bushra Saba.
Image Source – Author
Her expectation from a Smart City is – “The intent of smart cities should be, provision of services that enable people to carry out activities in a sustainable as well as time effective manner.”
Read the story of Bushra’s home here…
Home, Always a Home
Along the side of the street, women sat, lazily blowing away flies, selling fishes. Children slipped in mud and puddles of water, screaming in excitement. Yes, this is how I remember my village. The bamboo bridge, that I carefully crossed for six years on going to school, now remains only a faded memory. The water of the river below rose and lowered seasonally and I enjoyed the view. The rustling of bamboo leaves behind my home and the pinch in my palm on holding those fallen spherical spiky orange flowers of Kadam tree still thrives in me.
Nestled in the foothills of Himalayas, surrounded by the most natural rhythms and sights, in Darjeeling district I lived. I stayed there for 18 years continuously and now I am a guest there. It was a small village with mud houses near the river bank and our house was the only pucca house, and we were looked up to. There used to be a huge swarm of children from the village heading towards the madarsa and I could hear the scriptures being read, so much in rhyme and compassion. In the morning hours as I left for school, their voices echoed till my home, much loud and clear. I still remember, on holidays our drawing room became a small madarsa, where we four sisters recited the hymns with the same passion and clarity. Except that they feared the maulana and we feared our father. Till date, I haven’t talk to him freely.
There is also a mosque abutting a kabristaan (burial ground) in our village. The voice of the azaan from the mosque would fill us with exhilaration, as our father would go to the mosque and we would run to get a glimpse of what was going on in the television.
The roof of our house was made of concrete and the veranda had asbestos sheet above. There was always a thrill in us whenever it rained. The noise of the hailstones hitting the sheet above and power cut added on to the excitement. The reason being, we could enjoy the moment and escape studies. In the mornings, our courtyard would be showered with orange stemmed white Rat ki Rani flowers and when the sky was clear, we would get a glance of snow capped Kanchenjunga mountain from our terrace. Little did I understand its beauty then. Further, there was river quite distant from our home, on Saturdays sneakily we sisters, used to go to catch fishes. We would land our small palm carefully into the water seeking the fish; in turn we would land up playing with tiny fishes that slipped from the openings from our fingers. Finally, we would return home with many toads and very few fishes. The toads were thrown away by our mother and the fishes were allowed to stay for a day or two.
Initially our home was a cottage kind, a 3 BHK, with a high plinth and garden in the front. It had rose plantation which was divided amongst us sisters and the boundary had neatly lined beetle trees. I vividly remember, three mango trees, a guava tree, a papaya tree and ashoka trees formed the boundary of the plantations and many more. Our neighbouring uncle was really fond of me as a kid and I loved him, his home was a second home for me. We had a big courtyard with quarters surrounding it, in which tenants lived. They were airmen from around India with diverse culture and religions, who were recently posted to our area. They would stay for few years and then leave. Thus, I never had a friend forever.
The river had a shamsan ghat as well. We could hear the loud chanting during the process of cremation and as I grew, I also realized the other side of life.
Now, when I visit my village, I no longer get the view of Kanchenjunga mountain as buildings have come up, the river has narrowed and encroachment has reached to its brim. The bamboo bridge is replaced by a concrete one, very few people live in mud houses and bamboo plantation ceases to exist. The number of children going to the madarsa has declined and the number of children going to school has increased. My homely cottage is now a huge campus with many more tenants and fewer trees. The asbestos roof is no longer there and power cut never happens.
How gradually we have compromised. Is it worth it? Can we ever depict the initial view? The situation always leaves me in a dilemma and I hope the love for our hometown remains in us, always nurturing and forever inspiring…