One should never forget their roots, they say.
Our roots can settle in many places. They can hold on to the hearts of our parents, the energy of our siblings, or the way of life in our households. They can also exist in the form of individual elements, like language, customs, values, and the like. When trying to not forget our roots, it becomes important to keep revisiting them. To a student or an employee working away from home, this can be fulfilled by both following the same traditions by ourselves and introducing new acquaintances to our older lifestyle. While enforcing this, what people often forget, what is also important, is that the roots must keep existing for us to revisit them. We should never let them fade away.
Recently, I visited what used to be my grandparents' place. I say town, for our ancestral house was broken down and rebuilt after my grandparents' demise. It stumps me to stay on the same ground, but within different infrastructure, as is the norm all around this space now. The lands I saw, spread out and green, have all been built upon with multi-storeyed buildings with multiple flats, with malls on the main road and fast food outlets as the metropolitan cities.
While development is not wrong as it enables a better way of life, a more efficient and convenient way of living, only sometimes it does tug at the heart, reminiscing the simpler days. I'll give you a brief.
I used to visit this place every year during the summer/winter vacations alternatively, the other alternative being my maternal grandparents' place. This is how Indian children remember vacations - Daadi-Naani ka ghar (grandmothers' house). The houses were on individual plot areas, spread out on a long, long road, with several local markets in between. The sun hit us directly, as did the rain and the moonlight under which we used to bask for hours. Ah, the simpler days.
Since 2010, rural and semi-rural areas in India have seen a large number of development projects, most of them being recreational centers or apartment buildings. Empty grasslands are washed out for these structures, and they further demand the construction of more structures for convenience.
Let me explain this with a story.
My grandparents used to go to a community center every evening to discuss the affairs of the town, from the movement of hawkers to the financial requirements of the people. This community center was a rather dilapidated stone structure in the middle of nowhere, but the elders loved sitting on the broken benches, leaning against the tumbling walls, soaking the sun from rising to set. Over the years, the structure decayed and decayed till barely some wall and a few of the bench structures were left. My grandparents and their friends still met there, talking and laughing at the top of their voices.
In 2013, owing to our secondary examinations, we skipped a year of the vacation trips, much to the extreme anger of all our grandparents. We did score well though, which ensured a grand celebration in the coming year. However, when I headed back to our ancestral town, I found out the community structure was not only taken down but also the land was reclaimed by a private builder to build an apartment complex there. I disliked passing by that place anymore as it took away an important piece of my memory, not knowing more was to come.
After the community center was taken down and the apartment started housing new families, a clinic was soon opened in a ground close by. Soon, we saw a huge shopping complex open just by the main roads, followed by where now stands a college, salons, restaurant chains, and a lot of other attractive outlets that we could never accept.
Now, if you were a new resident who recently moved to the apartment building, you would be in awe of the development in the area. A clinic would be perfect for your urgent woes, and a shopping complex the best weekend relaxation. Life would be easier and I can understand maybe this is why development has both become essential for our fast-paced lives and made it even faster.
Another reason why development takes over as swiftly as ever is the wave of urban migration.
In cities, young adults aim to move to another neighborhood once they are employed whereas, in small, native towns, they plan to move to the city. This move from small towns leaves their parents as heads of vast ancient property. Gradually, due to old age, managing such spaces becomes difficult and the parents or their children are bound to either remodel the area or sell it for reconstruction.
Thus, while leaving one's hometown might seem like a huge move when moving out, its gravity is realized only when you come back home and nothing is the same anymore.
If you're lucky, you'll return in time to find most of the same old faces around you. Otherwise, I hope you make the most of the new.
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