Memories of DarusSalam, Rajapur

Remembering DarusSalam and My Brother Kalim

On a recent visit to DarusSalam, the house built by my revered father in Rajapur (Allahabad, India), I was overwhelmed with grief by the absence of my dear brother Kalim. In fact, I have yet to come to terms with the fact that Kalim is no more with us.

Family Members and Their Departures

Kalim had lived in the house for almost fifty years and over the years Kalim and DarusSalam had become identical with each other. Many of us lived there but left it one by one. Apart from my revered parents who now reside in heaven, many of my siblings and cousins lived here and went away. Our late lamented Yaqub bhai and Mahboob bhai lived with us for a few years while serving in the Account General’s office and went away to join their respective services. Shamim was the next to go to join his government job. Arshad lived here for a few years while studying at the university and then left for Canada. I went to USA for pursuing my Ph.D. program and after returning from there went to Mussoorie to work at the National Academy of Administration. In 1996, I moved to my newly built house in Ashok Nagar. But Kalim continued to live there and looked after the house built by Abba till his departure for his heavenly abode. It is therefore unthinkable and painful to go to Rajapur and not finding Kalim there. These days Kalim’s wife Rana is living in DarusSalam and taking care of it.

The Dream and Dedication: Father’s Efforts to Build the House

I distinctly remember how hard my revered father toiled to build this house. He literally spent all his life time savings and whatever he had received as Provident fund and gratuity in addition to putting in all his energy and time in constructing the house. Inflation was not then as high as it is today. Nine sacks of cement were available for 100 rupees and 1000 bricks could be purchased for a mere 55 rupees. The labourers and masons charged two and half and five rupees daily.

When we moved in the house in March 1969, it was still under construction. The walls were without plaster and floor was uncemented. Gradually the construction was completed in which all my brothers contributed. I also contributed in my own modest way by giving most of my earnings through the National Merit Scholarship and subsequently UGC research fellowship. Needles to say that DarusSalam was a dream come true for Abba but alas he didn’t live long to enjoy the fruits of his labour and money and left for his heavenly abode in February 1972.

Mother’s Love and Family Gatherings: DarusSalam as a Haven

After the demise of Abba, my mother continued to live here and looked after the needs of all her children. In fact, DarusSalam became a haven for all the family members to come and repose for a few days. It was here that Nilofer had the first glimpse of living in the Indian environment after coming from Karachi. It was here that Tipu and Khurram and subsequently Khusrau and Ghazal grew up and had their schooling. I still remember how Tipu as a toddler used to come to my study room walking on his knees and sit on my chair.

Simple Pleasures: Food, Family, and Camaraderie

On the occasion of Eid, all my brothers would come with their children to celebrate the festival. My mother’s joy on those days knew no bounds. She would buy kurtas for all her sons and would ensure that the breakfast, lunch and dinner was prepared according to the likes of all her sons and grandchildren

During the summer vacation all my sisters used to come with their children and stayed here for more than a month. My mother used to collect house hold goods for this occasion through out the year. She would store rice, different varieties of pulses, flour, cooking oil and ghee in her favorite aluminum and steel containers so that there would be no shortage of provisions when her daughters and grand children arrive here. There used to be 20-25 family members in the house those days and the atmosphere was like a carnival. We used to make fun and laugh at each other. I used to tease my sisters by copying their husbands and in laws. There were only two wash rooms in the house, very few ceiling fans but all of us lived in the hot and humid months of May and June. Biryani and chicken was seldom on the menu for lunch and dinner but no one ever complained of any scarcity and discomfort. During the night we used to prepare our beds on the ground of the first floor and slept in the open. No one complained or quarrelled with the other. We used to buy enough quantities of musk melon, water melons and mangoes and enjoyed eating together.

Nostalgia, Sadness, and Longing for the Past

Gone are those days but whenever I go to Rajapur or think about DarusSalam, a flood of sweet memories come rushing down to me and make me nostalgic, sad and wistful.

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