Walk Down Memory Lane | Punjab

I have a faded memory of getting out of a train early on a winter morning, around 5:am. I must have been 8 years old, layered in various sweaters and jackets. My sister was about 5 and my brother was 2 years old. Our parents held us in one hand and in the other was our luggage. We got on a rickshaw from the station to get to my father's childhood home where now my grand mother lived with my uncles. Sun hadn't risen yet, and I could almost hear every paddle of the rickshaw as there was no other noise apart from some birds and a few street dogs. There was a huge Haveli just on the corner of our street. I didn't appreciate the architecture then. My dad would call my aunt for hot chai and biscuits, so we could snack as soon as we got home. Me being the eldest grandchild was given a little bit extra attention. We were ' the cousins from the big city' hence bringing gifts for everyone was a ritual. We usually got the room on the first floor where we kept our luggage. This room used to be my parent's when they got married. At that time the house seemed very big to us, probably because we were tiny. Houses in smaller towns were bigger than city homes. My sister and I had invented many games around the many doors and windows in the big house. While the elders would usually be talking, meeting people, we enjoyed playing games with the other kids in the street. There was not much that one could do in Bathinda, but visiting our ancestral shop to pick some freebies and candies was a joy that could not be met elsewhere. Usually, breakfast included poori and aloo from a vendor in the main bazaar. I visited again last year, almost after 8 years. The city now has a mall, some restaurants and even some international chains. My dad loves to talk about the development in infrastructure in the city with its new airport. My uncles have moved to new modern homes. My cousins have moved out to bigger cities for education. But my perspective had changed. The old charming house we lived in two decades ago fascinated me more than the rest of the city. The design of the doors, windows and facades from the 90's was something I wanted to preserve. I found some personal belonging from my grandfather which were about 40 years old in an old trunk. This could have been one of my fantasies where I open an old room of treasure in a lost palace. We came back, but this time there was something missing. Maybe the warmth of having less.