Four years ago, my family and I returned from Amroha, a small town approximately 100 miles from Delhi. We had to take the Emirates flight to the U.S. It was a sad and surreal day because bidding goodbyes were always difficult for me, especially with international travel and leaving behind loved ones, as you never know when you could meet them again.
I was visiting my in-laws with my husband and daughter in India. My mother-in-law had taken ill and had to be moved from Lucknow to Amroha, her hometown. The distance was nearly 260 miles and approximately a nine-hour drive.
Amroha has a population of 198,471 people, roughly equal to Montgomery, Alabama. Located in Uttar Pradesh, the city boasts of a magnificent and spiritual past because of the presence of Sufi Saint Shahwilayat’s tomb.
The Saint’s tomb has a special and unbelievable feature. The devotees believed that even a poisonous insect-like scorpion validated the sanctity of the Saint’s tomb by refraining from attacking the followers. I witnessed this myself by keeping a scorpion in my hand, and it did not sting.
The real treasure of Amroha is the warmth, which bound me forever; I still remember my first visit to Amroha. As I first stepped into the Amroha train station, wading through its clustered neighborhoods and narrow by-lanes, gazing at the many shrines that adorn the land; the city soothes me with an unwavering faith that resonates through every aspect. The city is immersed in the spell of spirituality and upholds its age-old traditions with unfaltering sincerity.
When I met my in-law's extended family, the love and warmth I got from them were immense. Though I couldn’t find leisure, luxury and comfort, compared to my home, I found tranquility, acceptance and serenity. On the other hand, the amorphous houses in Amroha depict the government’s inability to develop the place. The open sewage lines were why most people suffered from malaria or the dengue virus. The muddy and small streets were always packed with pedestrians, auto-rickshaws and cycle-rickshaws. Some streets in the city consist of clustered and narrow lanes, so it is best to explore the city on foot, and I really experienced this.
Both of the visits to Amroha were in winter, so I was not fortunate to gorge on the delicious mango, “Amawat.” However, I enjoyed the fresh green vegetables of the season, which came daily from nearby orchards.
My husband’s decision to renovate his ancestral home made everyone in the family happy; it was a clear sign that he would want to revisit Amroha. His mother left Amroha after she got married some thirty years ago, and, after the death of my father-in-law, it was hard for her to live alone in Lucknow with her only daughter, so she decided to move back.
When I saw the renovated house, I couldn’t believe that it was the same house from two years ago; from the main entrance door to the interior design, everything was new. We replaced the broken wooden door with a big, black steel door. The front room used to have a cement floor, which was replaced by a mosaic floor with big black and white stones. The rooms were spacious with walk-in closets compared to the old ones. My husband’s uncle had renovated the house with love and care and gave it a new and modern look. The original house had many childhood memories that my husband cherished, such as the noisy wildlife around the village, but even then, he decided to give a new look to the old memories.
Upon returning to the U.S., my mind was still in India, and just two days later, my mother-in-law passed away in peace; those eyes filled with hope closed forever.