Being the daughter of a bank employee on a transferable job meant growing up in different parts of the country, sometimes even small towns and cities. I grew up mostly in a small town in Jharkhand.
The small towns are definitely different from big cities, different but good. Life is not rushed like the big cities. Everything is at a normal pace and is peaceful. I spent most of my childhood years in Madhupur. It is a small town in the district of Deoghar. The best part of the small towns is the proximity. You have a doctor, a school, a marketplace, all within a mile radius. So, you get to save the transportation costs. Besides, that’s how big the main part of the town is.
There are no high rise buildings, no lavish hotels, no big restaurants, no traffic and the people who live there are contended and social. They care about each other. Instead of KFCs or McDonalds, there is a famous chatwala who serves piquant chats and samosas and delicious sweets. Instead of kitty parties, there is a gathering of all the neighbours in the mohalla. It was a happy phase.
I loved my school, Carmel is its name. We did not get to have an outing every weekend, but there were some places nearby, famous for its natural beauty where we went once in a while to. Growing up as a girl in a small town was no different from how it would have been in a big city. Of course, the mindset of people is more conservative and orthodox as compared to the big cities. Gossips and gossip-mongers are more to be found in small town. But thanks to our school, we have been instilled with a different attitude. Education does make a difference.
The other place I had lived there was Sahibganj. I admire Sahibganj for its natural beauty. On one side of the town is river Ganges and on the other side is a mountain. It is serene and beautiful with no pollution or traffic. The original inhabitants of the place are Santhals, the tribal people. But people from other places have migrated there for their own reasons. The Christian missionaries have done a tremendous job of setting up schools and hospitals in small town and the remote areas around the place.
So like Madhupur, Sahibganj has a school, St. Xavier’s. I completed my schooling from there. One of the unique characteristic of the place was that everyone commute by bicycle. Be it an elderly person, school going children, or teachers; everyone was a proud owner of a bicycle. In fact, I owned my first cycle there. I was overjoyed after having it. It’s an amazing feeling, riding bicycle for the first time without any help. It almost seems like you are flying. Every place and every phase of your life teaches you something.
I moved to several places after that and currently, I am living in Aligarh. It is definitely bigger when it comes to the size of the area than other places I have lived in. Aligarh is divided into two areas, University area and the main city area. The city is quite chaotic but the University area is clean and well maintained. Aligarh is famous for Aligarh Muslim University, founded by Sir Syed Ahmad Khan. In the past six years that I have lived here, there has been a lot of changes. There has been an influx of various food joint chains like Dominos, CCD, McDonalds etc. So thankfully we have a few places to chill. Other than this, I don’t think there is any difference between Aligarh and the other places I have lived in. It is comfortable and I like it here. But one thing that you definitely learn being from a small town is helping people, sharing and caring for them.
Fatima Hasan is a non conformist and free thinker. She likes writing and listening to songs. She is also an amateur singer.