Chennai, India, Oct 27, 2011: “Wishes alone can’t fulfill our desires; I have realized that much,” Dilsara Setimore, 76, let out heavy sigh and continued, “I don’t have money to return home.”
On a rainy day of 1973, Dilsara had carried her 2 year old son Sundarlal on one arm and small bundle of clothes on other and had left Jhumlawang for Bijaura/Vijayawada. Her cousin brothers had been working in South Indian town Vijayawada for many years. So, when she came to the city, she had stayed with her brothers until she was able to be on her own working as a house helper.
Soon, it’s going to be 4 decades since she saw Jhumlawang for the last time. But, she says time has not made any difference in her memories. “I remember everything,” she said, “Life was tough there but I miss it.” Referring to curse-phrase ‘yek paile bhayes’ (may your footprint never return back) she added, “It seems, I have become the cursed one.”
“I guess, like my brothers I will also die here,” eyes brimming with tears her voice cracked, “Narpati bhai died here, then Dhanpati dai.in this foreign land all of them took their last breath.”
Her son Sundarlal (Lal Bahadur Setimore) looked at her nostalgic expression and sadly smiled, “Whenever somebody from village visits her, she is becomes emotional like this.” He says he has no memory of village but feels connected through his mother’s constant mentioning of it.
Among the 150 people in Bijayawada who are originally from Jhumlawang Sundarlal’s family is among the very few families who are considered economically stable. “We are surviving, for now” he said, “But, I can’t afford to fall sick. If it happens then surviving will be a very difficult thing to do.” He owns a shop and sometimes does extra job as security guard. He is not learned man but his son Bharat Kumar and daughter Pujita are studying in college.
Almost all of the Jhumlawange in Bijayawada are working as security guard. Some of them are doing double duty to earn bread for their family. However, they are not compromising in their children’s education. “No matter how difficult it gets, we are not compromising with their education,” said Nim Bahadur Sunar (son of Aashbir Sunar ‘Aashe’). His children (two daughters and a son) are studying in school. Like Sundarlal, he also has no memory of village as he was born and brought up in Bijayawada. But, he has the images of village from stories his parents told him. He also knows that he has some ancestral land in Jhumlawang so after he retires he wants to go back there and make a living. “My children want to go and visit right now but I need to save money, make plans and go ahead,” he said, “It’s going to take time but I see myself in the village where my parents came from.”
Kamal Ramjali, whose great grandparents had come to the city in search of work and had stayed here, have been making plans to visit Jhumlawang. “Within few years I will visit my ancestral home,” he says, “I feel like it is calling me.”
These lingering memories, nostalgic feelings and connection to their ancestor land are shared by generations of Jhumlawange who have been here for more than half a century. They dream of going back home and living on their ancestors land. That dream, to some extend may sound too much of a romanticized to be true as they have settled their life here to some level. May be because they are aware of it that they are always enthusiastic about knowing what is happening in the village.
“It’s one way of connecting ourselves to our ancestor land and relatives,” Bharat K. Setimore said, “We feel connected to our root.” It’s with this desire of knowing more about the village and if possible to be able to help in village’s projects he was interested in the establishment of JVF-Nepal’s Vijayawada Committee, Andhra Pradesh, India. He is holding the position of General Secretary in the branch committee that was formed in September.
A 16-member JVF-Bijayawada committee was formed with the purpose of ‘keeping-in-touch’ with relatives back home. While it will be difficult to help monetarily for JVF-Nepal’s different projects in village they are trying their best to be of some help in making village ‘a role model’.
“Our best wishes are always there,” Nar Bahadur Ramjali (Narlal), President of JVF-Bijayawada said, “Apart from wishes, we are also trying to collect some fund for building ‘sajha-ghar’/Cultural Center.” He has been in Bijayawada for more than 20 years but has visited home twice in between
“We are extremely happy about all the development aspects happening in the village,” Narlal added, “It feels even better to be able to participate in village development this way.” He said through the committee they will be keeping in touch with whole Jhumlawange around the world and try to take part in development work of village projects.