A K Sharma Village: Kajha Khurd, Block: Ranipur, Tehsil: Muhammadabad Gohna.
District: Mau of Uttar Pradesh.
I belong to an extended, rural and agrarian family of Eastern UP.
My childhood was spent studying under the lights of diyas. I recall my father setting up the first tube-well in our village and that is how we got electricity, around five decades back. I remember higher secondary education under lanterns - an improvement over diyas. By the time I graduated, many more tube-wells came to be set up. Household connections, however, came much later.
A railway line ran across the village, but trains were unable to halt as there was no stoppage. Elders of the village, including my father, made many efforts for a stoppage and finally, a few decades ago, some trains began to stop at the Paligarh Halt station which is right behind my village home.
My father was a visionary and played a pivotal role in setting up a secondary school in the name of Pundit Alagoo Rai Shashtri in our village.
I have a faint memory of my father enrolling me in the village primary school. I completed most of my primary education here itself and some part of it at adjoining village Khurhat as my uncle was a teacher there. Middle school education was at Rasra, Ballia district.
There were no roads in the village till about 1990-91. Children used to go for secondary and higher secondary schooling on bicycles. After joining the IAS, I was able to connect with local officers and ensure basic connectivity to nearby road networks. A lot, of course, remains to be done.
I have fond memories of village’s elderly get togethers at my home to discuss such community requirements and issues.
While in the village, I liked to do house and farm work like cleaning the house front, clearing out the semi-pucca drainage system, feeding the cattle, seasonal plantation and other agri-related chores. This continued till graduation and post-graduation also. I used to come to the village every two-three months from Allahabad. All these activities were a source of happiness for me.
Even while working in IAS, I tried to remain closely connected with the village community and family. I try to visit as much as possible and enjoy being there. However, I miss my parents who are no more with us. I am grateful for the affection of not only my extended family, but the whole village community.
In addition to family, there are a number of other people who impacted my initial life. My father being in the service of UP Road Transport, I spent a lot of my childhood living at two Bus Stations (Rasra & Mau). My mother resided in the village with the rest of the family. So, I owe a lot to that eco-system comprising of the chaiwalas, halwais, drivers, conductors, porters, and staff members who were an integral part of my daily life. This phase of my life lasted from class six to twelfth.
My father would be gone during the day for work. During the daytime, I had to rely on snacks: groundnuts, samosas, ghathis, sweets and fruits. Dinners, however, were the highlights of our days. It used to be like the campfire of Lord Shiva. Food for almost a dozen people used to be cooked using goithas and uplas (dry pallets of cow dung). By dinner time, half a dozen more people would join in. The irony was that there was never shortage of food. As if Mother Goddess of fulfillment (Annapurna) was present herself. If at all, there was any indication of shortage ever; my father, an embodiment of contentment (Lord Aashutosh/Shiva), would say that he is not feeling well and hence does not require much to eat. This was my first lesson in ‘Sharing & Caring’
To all those representatives of God, who nurtured and made me what I am: