By Vasundhra Chauhan
“ Maine iss sheher ko bante dekha hai,
Kabhi kisi sapne sa tootte dekha hai,
Kabhi halaaton ki garmi se jukhtey dekha hai.
‘Har har mahadev’ ke swar me doobte dekha hai,
Kabhi allah ke aage sajdey krtey dekha hai,
Maine iss sheher ko bante dekha hai.
Subah se sham tak dhoop me chalte dekha hai.
Apno se ladte dekha hai,
Lad ke girte dekha hai,
Alhad bacche ki zidd sa,
Apne iradon par atal dekha hai.
Maine iss sheher ko ghar bante dekha hai.”
My earliest memory of my childhood is of walking barefoot on the grass in Gandhi bagh. Every morning 6 o clock my father would take me there with or without my will. Before I could say something, he would ask me to look around and the reviving ambiance and the picturesque sky would leave me at a loss for words.
Meerut is a modern city with a desi touch. It has malls, markets, fly-over and all and yet is so ravishing green in the interiors parts. It is developed in some aspects; developing in others and you can still look up to the night sky and see the stars. It is the place where the sound of traffic and the sound of nature co-exist. I was not born in Meerut but I grew up there to be someone who understands life. All credit to the immense diversity of this city.
I can still recall all the sound of shiv-devoted songs along with the chants of “Har Har Mahadev” during Shivratri. Every year thousands of shiv bhakts would walk from their cozy, comfortable homes to Haridwar and complete their journies. Since Meerut comes in the way to Haridwar, the corporation used to make camps for the devotees for them to rest and relax.
The camps and the music put on for the Kawariyas used to create an unexplainable aura that no one would want to leave the place. Also, Shivratri meant no school for a week since the roads were blocked due to kanwariyas, so that’s the fun part.
Like any other place, plenty of parks adore the city’s beauty; Gandhi bagh is one of them. Evenings at Gandhi bagh can be painted with the professional cricket sessions, with the kids playing football in the background and senior citizens chatting over evening walks. I’m an admirer of nature; the sound of chirping birds has a unique place in my heart. Sitting in a park and reading books with that kind of sound is just my type of thing to do. Ah! The days of our lives!
Diwali, being my favorite festival holds a special place in my heart. I have the childhood memories of walking down the aisle decorated with the most beautiful lights at Abu lane, the sound of bollywood songs and aroma of all type of food mixed together. The best feeling ever!
Every year, during the summer vacation my routine would change. All summer me and my brother would watch thriller-suspense movies and then go on our own missions. Exploring Meerut, going to abandoned places and look for clues became my life. The adventurous streak got us into trouble also, but when I go back to those places today all I can remember is the thrill to explore, to find something new and honestly, I have no regrets.
I have spent years of my life running aimlessly up and down the roads of Meerut, living the most carefree days. But, everything good must come to an end and after the summer vacations, we had to go back to same old- same old life. Back to morning alarms and school uniforms.
My school life was like a Pandora box, you don’t know which memory might get out of it if opened. I remember bunking tuitions and going back to New Ways for the evening snacks. I once lied about an extra class and went to the haunted house at the Meerut Cantt.
Yes, I lied like we all did when we were in schools.
No, the haunted house is not really haunted.
Yes, my mom later found out about my lie.
No, I’m not dead yet. I guess sometimes you just live to tell the tale!
Meerut is the home to many different communities with diverse culture, different approaches to things and well, it did seldom witness some communal disharmony. There were times when the city was on red alert. No school for days, police cars on patrol and I could hear the sirens even at 2 am. I have had my share of sleepless nights, over thinking about the situations going on in the city.
So anyway, I have spent almost 10-11 good-bad years of my life in this city. I’ve read at least hundreds of books sitting on the benches of Gandhi bhag, I have seen the colors of Nauchandi Mela up close, I have walked amidst thousands of lights at Abu lane during Diwali, I have seen this city growing and I’ve grown up with this city every day till the day I decided to move on with my life.
The day I moved to Delhi, I took a piece of this beautiful city with me. No matter where I go in future I’ll always have Meerut in my heart because home is home. No matter how small or big, it is always special.