'Country roads, take me home, to the place I belong…country roads' (John Denever)
After a span of twenty one long years I happened to be in my home town for eleven days (shagun element unintended) as my Ma had a 'sankalpa' for performing an 'anushthan' there at the place has always been so much a part of us all not just because its our 'janmbhoomi' but also because of the all pervasive ' fitartan ikhlaq' that makes Abohar a very special place. Till 1989 that I was in F.C.College, Hisar and the summer vacations were spent with Ma in Abohar but after joining the services it was for the first time that I had taken earned leave to be in Abohar by my Ma's side and partake in preparations for the prestigious Srimad Bhagwat Katha by renowned Swami Avdheshanad Ji.
It was amazing to see the growth, the prosperity of the people if the number of four wheeler luxury vehicles and congestion on main road is any indication. The ever increasing number of shops swarming the narrow street lanes was shocking but bespoke of 'samriddhi' nevertheless.
While walking through the streets, I could not resist the temptation of peeping into Arya Putri Pathshala premises where I studied upto fifth class and I found myself literally feeling the earth we trod. I was reminded of how I had been punished with a stick on the back because I had scored much less than my sister Archana used to in General Science. The painful memory of the day when result was announced for fourth class also flashed before my eyes and I was bracketed first with Saroj having scored 165/200 yet half a mark from my aggregate was deducted as I played 'kanchas' with boys-a taboo for students of Putri Pathshala. I was so hurt because it was openly announced in the assembly. That was perhaps the day when I had resolved not to ever play again 'kanchas' or 'gilli danda'.
Ms Ajinder, our Punjabi teacher in Govt. Girls School, Abohar met me one day after the Katha session. She taught us Farid, Bulle Shah, Shah Hussain and Amrita Pritam with such passion !! Her recital of : ‘ajj aakhan waris shah nu, kite kabran wichon bol’ still reverberates. I touched her feet, she hugged me and reminded me of my maiden speech on stage that I had forgotten midway but she quoted from it and said : Sumedha, 'yadi asantosh na hota to pragti na hoti'. I enquired from her about her sister Balwinder who had scribbled once on my notebook a line: 'mukk jandi e samen de naal dil di khalbali' and how I wanted to tell that she was wrong.
Had an opportunity to meet a number of my teachers and class mates in school or college that I had studied in. It was very kind and generous of them to have cared to come and meet me-Rajbala, Neelima, Renu, Urvashi, Sarita, Madam Usha Kiran, Shashi Bala-all are so very pious, full of affection, pure hearted. They are the people who belonged to the golden era. Meeting them again at the same place was so very blissful and overwhelming. I visited a friend (Manju)'s parents in Anar gali-the place that was frequented by us daily for playing table tennis as her Papa had put TT table at home to encourage his children learn and practice the game earnestly. Manju's mom hugged me and during the span of the hug what was melting was the intervening years, all their pains and agonies and ensuing joy of meeting once again in this very life time. Uncle also showed me the family tree they had made to introduce all siblings with their photos and names scribbled therein.
My Abohar has always been epitome of the purest joy-simple, plain, filling, unconditional affection and love. The route that takes me to Abohar has indescribable healing power. My Ma was on dias to thank everybody.She said: we have always got so much of love and respect from Abohar; we also love Abohar. True, we now live in Kurukshetra ‘par hum jahan bhee hain, khush hain kyunki saara hindustan hamara hai'.