This is the first in the series of Instagram series called #MyGration stories where I talk to people and chronicle the circumstances that led to their migration from one place to another. And other emotional nothings! My instagram link given at the end. I share longer version here. Starting the series with my father Mr. Aniruddha Singh, a retired officer from U.P. Electricity Board.
Featured pic : Not a smoker, my dad dressed up like this perhaps under influence of Hippie culture! Its one of my favourite picture.It was shot on 21st march, 1974
My dad was born in Baansgaon, a village known for its Shrinet Rajpoots near Gorakhpur. I thought he lived here for a better part but during the interview I was surprised to discover that he hardly ever lived here. My grandfather (since he already had a job in Basti) moved to Basti soon after my dad was born. He is youngest of all three brothers. He fondly remembers studying under a tree in a school near Kateshwar Park for at least 2 years. Later, the makeshift school got a tin shade to fight nature’s elements till at least for the next 3 years. Gradually, they got a permanent building till 6th to 8th standard, albeit with an unplastered floor. He and his friends often used to sleep on the mud floor of the school waiting for a Guruji (teacher) who used to take their extra classes for free from 9p.m. to 10:30 p.m.
Surprised, I asked, “Why free?”
“So that we could perform better.”
Some lesson here, for our money hungry coaching institutes. My dad even gave up a scholarship voluntarily for a lesser privileged child.
Mats made up of ‘taat’ torn rags, ‘sutli’ (rope) etc was used to sit. Some students even brought their own quilt and blanket during the winters. For high school, around the year 1966, he moved to a bigger building, Government Inter College.
He chuckles when I ask, “Did you sleep on mat here too.”
“Haha, No, It was a grand building! A proper one! ”
Later in the fashionable 70s, the family moved to Gorakhpur and he started wearing Bell Bottom pants. He did his B.E. (Electrical) from Madan Mohan Malviya University Of Technology from Gorakhpur. On a 10 month training he moved between Roorkie, Saharanpur and Dehradoon. Then job took him to Varanasi (I was born here), Lucknow, Kanpur, Allahabad, Kayamganj, Kannauj, (back to) Lucknow, Sitapur and Mainpuri. He and my mother are now settled in Lucknow. The job spanned 33 years, 1 month (he insists). June 1978 to July 2011, the figures are on his fingertips, no ‘ummm’ here.
Today, when he looks back, he finds most connected to Basti although it has been decades that he has visited the small town. He yearns to go back to Basti and see his home, meet old neighbours, visit his school and maybe even give a special class. This tops his list of ‘to do’, now that he is retired. After doing this interview, I am planning one such trip in winters this year. With Baansgaon, he has had no real connection as such. This surprised me as I always thought otherwise. He hardly lived there. Thus he is more emotionally attached to Basti, where he spent 15 years during growing up. Our family belongs to Shrinet Rajpoots (aka Kshatriya /Thakur). I was shocked to learn that originally I am a ‘pahadi’ (people from mountains). Our ancestors belonged to Srinagar, Pauri Garhwal, Uttarakhand (formerly Uttar Pradesh). The entire clan migrated to Baansgaon after a social upheaval. Today Baansgaon is known for its Srinet Rajpoot. There were total of 6 places (called Cheh gawaan), the clan migrated to, including Deoria. The grand migration was led by Shri Madan Maniyaar Singh You can find many schools and colleges after his name in Baansgaon and Gorakhpur.
Today, in his comfortable home in Lucknow, he misses his time in Basti. Those were his most carefree days. “I used to return to home only to eat and then vanish again to play outdoors with other kids” Though, his dream place remains Lucknow. He doesn’t want to migrate to any other city now.
“Don’t you want to come to Noida and stay with us?”, I ask
“That would be a forced migration. I love my life in Lucknow!”
This is based on a telephonic interview with my father. The interview gave me some perspective. It also helped me understand who I am and where I really belong to. It also humbled me and made me grateful for the privileges I have had ever since I was born.
It left me wondering what would have become of me, had my family stayed back in the mountains of Uttarakhand or say, Baansgaon, a dusty nondescript village.
Don’t you think you should be asking your father the same questions?
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