I was coming back from office and regretting, why didn’t I bring the available umbrella. It was raining and turning to heavy rain. I tried to take shelter at side of a building for few minute, waiting to stop the rain but I got drenched in a little bit. When rain got a bit slow I continued and decided to have a coffee at nearby a cafe/pub where I never been. Even if it is just other side by of street my apartment.
I directly went to counter and asked –
“Do you have some coffee”
“No, we don’t have variety but I can make a coffee”
I ordered one and started looking on menu. To my surprise I stumble upon “Dal Makhani”. I saw few dishes and I was quite confirmed, it’s run by a Panjabi person. But bartender was not looking like Indian. So l didn’t talked about it and ordered “Samosa” (because, after a long time I saw samosa on any restaurant menu).
I sat on table waiting for my coffee. Just on the other table an old Panjabi man was sitting alone with his beer. After few moment he spoke
“Phir se barish ho rahi hai. Pata hi nahi chala is baar Summer hai.”
Me: “Jee haa. Last do din hi sahi tha, nahi to is week to puri tarah cloudy aur barish hoti rahi”
He – “Yaha kaha rahte ho?”
“Main bas yahi pass me hi Postbox apartment me rahta hu aur mera office City Centre tower me hai. Aap bhi yahi aas paas rahate hai?”
“Mera ghar yaha se 7-8 miles door hai. Hum senior citizen ke liya bus service free hai. hospital free hai. Aate jaate rahte hai”
I nodded and thought what he is doing so far from his home. Counter guy placed my coffee on table.
He:- “Tum India me kaha se ho?”
Me:- “Main Benaras se hu, Uttar Pradesh. Yaha bas official work se aaya hu” (I wanted to ask obvious question where you from. But what to ask from a man with classic Panjabi look. Of-course he is from Pajab.)
He:- “Banaras to achchhi jagah hai. Waha ke logo ka mind sharp hota hai.”
“Main bhi jaata rahata hu India, saal me ek do baar. Abhi septamber me jaana hai. ”
“Aap England kab aaye?”
“Main to bahut pahale hi yaha aa gaya tha. Jab tumhari umar ka tha. Mere uncle to 15 -20 baras pahle hi aa gaye the”
“1960’s or 70’s me aaye honge?”
“Yes, That time. Kaam ke liye yaha aaya tha. Us time to badi garibi thi apne yaha. Yaha factories me kaam mil jaata tha. Jinke baaju me dam tha wo kaam kar lete the. Demand thi yaha. 5-6 pound daily milta tha. metalwork and glass industry in Birmingham
He continued: – “Kaam bhi metal ka tha, daag pad jaate the” (He pointed out a burned mark on his face) aur bhi bade hai haatho me. 15-20 log rahte the ek ghar me aur 2-3 makan ka shared bathroom tha.”
“Jab paise huye to to 500 pound me ek ghar le liya. Father ko nahi bataya. Jab unhe pata chala to bahut sunaya. Kya paise barbad kar diya. Kabootaro ki tarah chhote gharon me rahane ke liye. Yaha India me bade khet lete aur ghar banate.”
He took a sip of beer, a long sigh .
“Khair, Kuchh dino baad, father upar chala gaya. Uncle bhi upar chala gaya. Ab apne Jalandhar me zameen hai aur puraane ghar hai. Saal me ek do baar jaate hai kheto ke rent ke liye.
Pahale gaon me achcha tha, paisa nahi the itne but ek dusare ki help karte the. Ab to tumhara paisa tumhare jeb me aur mera mere jeb me. Mera beta bhi ab mujhe nahi pahchanata. Wo to bas ab mobile me button dabate hai aur baat karte hai.“
He stopped, nigher of us spoke about a minute. Then he said:-
“Achchha laga tumse milkar. baat nikal gayi (Placing hand on his heart)
Yaha to bahut se log hai apne yaha ke”
Me : “Jee ha, abhi main yaha baisakhi mele me gaya tha last month….” (Tried to lighten up a bit)
“Ha, har baras hota hai”
“Haa ji, mini India laga raha tha park me”
Meanwhile, Cafe manager put my “Samosa” packet on table. I finished my coffee and paid on counter and turned back. Cafe manager was sitting with old man.
Old man to manager – “Inse milo ye India se hai, Banaras”
I smiled and shook hands with manager.
Old man to me: “Ye apne yaha ke hi hai, Jalandhar se. Kuchh bhi khaana ho isne bolo banaane ko ye sab bana ke dega.”
Promised to manager to came back sometime for food and said a formal bye and came out of cafe.
Rain was stopped. There were some mixed though going on..
“Meeting with and Old man from my country, listening his story”
“Nice weather after rain, tweet of birds”
“Is this a pattern. In the end, Somewhere else and uprooted from our own soil”