Though I was born in Belwa, a small village in Bihar near the Indo-Nepal border, I was packed off to a boarding school in Bettiah after class four.
Though I was born in Belwa, a small village in Bihar near the Indo-Nepal border, I was packed off to a boarding school in Bettiah after class four. People there were poor, or had a frugal lifestyle. We were surrounded by agricultural land. There were open fields, rivers and canals, forest animals, and cows and buffaloes that went grazing from field to field. There were only two or three theatres that ran and reran old classics like Hunterwali, Teesri Kasam and Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam. We had watched all the Dilip Kumar, Raj Kapoor and Guru Dutt classics. New films took an eternity to reach Bettiah. A new Amitabh Bachchan release was like Diwali.
My father was a farmer. He wanted his children to have a proper education. He used to say, “Do whatever you want, but complete your graduation.” My education gave me a solid foundation. I learnt to be independent and responsible. If you look around, you will see city children have a pampered and limited upbringing. That’s why most urban people face the problem of not knowing where they belong and what their culture is. That isn’t the case with small town people.
All my life, I have lived away from my parents. Because I saw so little of them, I never took them for granted. I used to go to Belwa to meet them at every opportunity. I still do. In October I will be in Belwa, feasting on the town’s famous kebabs and reliving those days. There comes a stage in every man’s life when he feels like going back to where he belongs. Of course, now Mumbai is home. But do I want to spend the rest of my life here? I don’t know. You can’t stay here, you can’t stay there—it’s a typical migrant’s dilemma.