Life in Village
I come from a small village by the name of Boriri Sharif situated in Dadu district in the middle of province of Sindh. It was the day of haj (9th Zil-Hijja, 1368) when I was born and as per Gregorian calendar it was third of October 1949. My father used to tell me that on the next day it was eid-ul-azha, a festive day which is celebrated with fervor by Muslims all over the world. The eid day starts with offering of prayers collectively, followed by sacrifice of an animal to commemorate the historical sacrifice of prophet Abraham and his son Ismail, may Allah be pleased with them. All the relatives assembled in our house after prayers and rejoiced the happy moments.
School in Dadu
I spent most of my childhood life in my village. During those days boriri sharif had no electricity, no gas, no water supply or drainage system, no phones, no metal road or rail network, no public transport like buses, taxis, etc. The nearest road and rail links were at a distance of about six miles. Ostensibly, it may appear that in the absence of all civic amenities of life, this place must have been a godforsaken haunted place, but actually it was not. This place was in its purest and unadulterated natural form and until I grew up to my adulthood, it maintained its purity in all its facets of life.
Food in Sindh Villages
The food that we ate in village life was indigenous and most of it was produced in our own agricultural lands, like wheat, rice, sugarcane, fruits, vegetables etc. And all this was organic food, which means that it was not a byproduct of any artificial grain mixed with it. Hybrid technology was not known until then. Animal dung was used as natural fertilizer and the artificial fertilizer produced through factories to increase yield, had not made its inroads in our boriri. Imagine that today the western world has become so conscious of going back to organic food which costs them twice or thrice the price of their hybrid products and only an affluent class can afford to go for this luxury. And this luxury was freely available to us at no extra cost.
Vegetables in Dadu Sindh
The vegetable that we ate was in freshest form plucked from our green fields, minutes before being cooked. Our house was at the farthest end of village bordering these green fields in Dadu Sindh. We used to get fresh milk and butter from our own livestock of buffalos and cows. And the community system was so strong and cohesive that we used to distribute the surplus, free of cost to those who could not afford to have the livestock of their own. Even otherwise we didn’t have refrigerator facilities to preserve surplus for the next day.
Beauty of Village Life
Country life during those days of my childhood was an epitome of natural beauty which can only be felt but cannot be expressed in words. One of my favourite hobbies at that time, was to look for honey beehives and to extract honey. I would go out in farms in search of beehives and simply by covering the face and body parts with a cloth, I would climb the tree, shake the branch of tree to scare away the bees and pluck the hive. In doing so I used to occasionally get stung by the bees, but the adventure and excitement was so high that I wouldn’t mind my swollen face as a consequence of bee stings.
My choicest breakfast was to have butter freshly skimmed from yoghurt on that very morning, with topping of fresh honey extracted a day before. Alas! I cannot indulge in such eventful luxury now. And even the children of my small village in do not have the access today, of what we had in those days, as the trees have been cut, open vast maiden land now fully encroached, and houses have been built to cater for ever burgeoning population. When I recall those days, I earnestly wish I could go back and live in glorious past, as against the glamour and glitter of today’s world, devoid of natural beauty and its charm.
Evening in Village
The evenings in this tiny village boriri sharif during those days were blissful. The young and the old would assemble in open grounds and indulge themselves in games with each one of them showing their muscle power and stamina, unlike the games that we play now on our mobiles. And as the shadows would start lengthening and the day culminating in dusk, the twinkling stars would appear in clear blue sky above us. Our elders didn’t study astronomy in any university but they knew these stars and from the appearance they would tell us the time and direction, a natural phenomenon that was used by ancient navigators and sailors to determine the time and the direction in which they were sailing. And we would listen to these stories with keen interest.
Society before TV and Internet
Our society until then was not invaded by television and U-tube. Radio was unknown to the inhabitants of our village. And if I can recall correctly, it was in early fifties when transistor radios operated through battery cells, were introduced in the market, and my father had brought a radio for the first time. We would be astonished to hear the sound of men and women, and we were so innocent that we would try and peep into it to find those people hiding somewhere there in that little radio set, like Lilliputians (the famous character of Gulliver’s travels).
Summers in Sindh
One of the fascinating things which I liked the most, was story telling before going to bed. Summers used to be too hot and there being no electricity, we would sleep in our large courtyards under the open sky glittering with galaxy of stars. There always used to be someone in every family who had the art of telling fairy tales. My auntie (pupho, sister of my father) was simply superb in it. We would wait all day long for dusk to settle and night to fall. In her fairy tales there were many characters which although mythical, but were household characters for us. The giant amphibian yetis, the big foot, (devs) and the beautiful nymphs (pari), from snow clad mountains of koh-kaaf, which we now know of, is a place somewhere in the city of Baku in Azerbaijan, were talk of the town. One had to please these giant devs, in order to reach out to beautiful nymphs which had wings and which could fly.
Similarly, a mermaid (jalpari), was another lively character. Jalpari too was beautiful and her upper part of her body was like a nymph with her tail like a fish. She would live in underwater world and would love to have friendship with young boys like us. Jalpari would give them a ride on her back while floating across waters and roaming around scenic places.
There was a dreadful character of a witch also and we were always scared of her. She was like an ugly woman with two of her teeth protruding like a Dracula, and her feet in opposite direction of her face. She would come in the darkness of night and take away a good-looking boy, to her abode in a jungle. She would lick the legs of the boy and the boy would be crippled finding himself difficult to walk and go back home. We were so scared of her that we would look at the feet of every woman to make sure that she was not a witch. Such were those strong mythical characters of those days.
Jugnu – Firefly
Yet another character which would attract us during that golden era of our childhood was that of a firefly, an insect and a kind of a beetle more commonly known as jugnu. In complete darkness of night, a small flash of light would shine above our heads by jugnu. This little dot of light by jugnu would continue winking and moving, presenting splendor and grandeur of sight to watch with keen interest.
Our elders would try to infuse enthusiasm by telling us and by creating fantasy out of it that whosoever catches this moving ball of light, will become rich overnight. And with all our innocence we would chase this light with an ambition to get hold of it and become rich. Our fantasies were also as innocent as we were. Mother nature was at its best with brilliant colours in unadulterated form of country life.
Education in Boriri
I was the only child of my parents and my father wanted to provide best education to me. Due to his service requirement he had to move from place to place which had severely affected my education. For most of the time I would stay back with my mother at my native village. This small village had schooling facilities up to class four and when I was promoted to class five, I had to move on to another school in Khairpur Nathan Shah, a neighboring town at a distance of about six miles.
During those early days of village, there was no transport facility and so I had to travel to school by cycle. Since I was too young to climb on a bicycle of standard size, my father bought me a smaller sized bicycle. Imagine a child barely ten years old, cycling all the way to school each day through rugged terrain and unfriendly weather. In summers the temperature would jump to sizzling fifty degrees Celsius, and in winters it would fall to almost freezing point. This situation viewed in present day times, is unfathomable for a child just ten years old. We also had a house in Dadu, a district city and occasionally we would shift to this house primarily for pursuing my education. Although I enjoyed the rugged village life, my parents were obviously concerned about me and my education.