When daughters belonged to the entire mohalla…Growing up in Simla of the Sixties!
“Saadhi kudi aaiyyo!” was the reply Leela Bhenjji would give to anyone inquiring about me when I would be staying in their home. Such was my Simla and my humble neighbourhood in the lower Bazaar of Simla of the Sixties!
It was late Seventies when I had to visit Simla ….I was married and had started a new life….a new life in my academics as well. I was taking Himachal Administrative Services examination. The examination center was at Shimla. I was very excited to revisit Simla…. the place I loved so much but I had mixed feelings… of happiness as well as of anxiety. A heaviness weighed on my heart…. it was about where would I walk to when I get down from the bus at Simla bus-stand? Where would I stay at Simla….we had left Simla in 1977 as we had no place to call home. We were planning for booking a Guesthouse at Simla. It was weighing so heavily on my heart that there is no place which I can call my own in Simla!
I went to Simla with Bauji and we paid a visit to our old neighborhood to meet our old friends and neighbours. We had booked a guest house and Bauji was to return after seeing me settled as girls staying alone in any guesthouse was something which Bauji was not very comfortable with. But Bhenjii as she was lovingly called by everyone put all worries to rest and told Bauji, “Kalo will stay with us .. why should she stay in a guesthouse when she has our home to stay at!” And I stayed at their home….the house next to our in my old neighbourhood in Lower Bazaar of Simla.
The house which always seemed so big to me now seemed small. Where is the space in Simla houses in the narrow lanes of Lower Bazaar to accommodate guests? But there is so much love in hearts that some space is squeezed to fit in guests. I am ashamed of using the word *guest” as we were a big family….all together a big loving family!
As I had my HAS examination so I was accommodated in the attic where I would not be disturbed at all. It had all kind of paraphernalia and my bedding was arranged in that space. That room became my second home and whenever anyone would inquire about me, “Kun aaya?” Leela Bhenjii would lovingly say, ” Our daughter has come visiting us!” And I was a daughter to her!!!
Today when I read so many posts about Daughter’s Day…
I travelled back to those wonderful days when daughters belonged to the entire mohalla. And I thought of the beauty of this relationship which had no name! No one in my entire mohalla of lower Bazaar of Simla of the Sixties has heard of Daughter’s Day but everyone loved every daughter of the mohalla like one of their own! Happy Daughter’s Day!!