Posted in Memories

THE HIGH HOUSE ! 

An Ancestral home is the artery of one’s childhood , oxygenating each memory , each bond of the golden times . My mother late Mrs Ranjit Malhotra often shared moments spent in her father’s in the village Harike Pattan in the State of Punjab in India . As a child I was often taken their on short visits though neither of my maternal grandparents were alive by then . Each time we crossed the bridge on river Beas at Harike Pattan on route Moga where my maternal uncle was posted as a Major in the Indian army ; my mother would point out towards the horizon over the waters showing me the double storied house she so cherished .With love and pride she would say “ Dariya paar Sada ghar ,sab ton ucha ! Our house is the highest in the village ,visible across the river “.This was way back in the 70s when my mother was The Principal in G M Arya Girls High School at Patti and I was still a child .When my mama ji , maternal uncle suddenly succumbed to a heart attack , his family sold the house and our visits to Harike stopped .We too shifted to Amritsar , the city of The Golden Temple but my mummy still talked of the Uchha kotha , High house very wistfully .Then she got cancer as her time drew close ,I and my husband decided to take her to her ancestral village Harike .Her neighbours welcomed us very warmly and she chatted happily with them about her childhood and her parents .She also expressed her desire to visit the house which was located at a little distance from our hosts place . They tried to dissuade us as the house was almost gone with the roof caving in and thieves having stolen a few old articles .But we insisted and they took us. On reaching the dilapidated place my mother said “ This is not my house !” We could not even take her in as with her condition she could not walk over all the rubble. We stepped in ,to my dismay the beautiful verandah she used to play in was turned into an open resting place for Buffaloes ! We clicked pictures anyhow and I found that the massive wooden door and windows were still intact though dirty and faded .I took a decision and stepped out finding my mother very distressed and crying .She only smiled when we took her to The Gurudwara in the village which her father ,my maternal grand pa Subedar Nidhan Singh Dhillon had got made on his land .The place had his photograph displayed there .Since she could not walk on the uneven steps ,we brought the picture to her in the taxi .On reaching Amritsar I called the new owner of my mom’s house at Harike and offered to purchase the old door and windows ,he agreed though later he gave those to us free .The door and window are still with us and my mother had touched those many a times while she still lived , each time with a smile and a memory .For her those were not non living objects but her childhood mates through whom she relived a joyous time even in her trials .

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