I finally had the opportunity to visit India.
By: Arif Rizvi (Ottawa, Canada)
My dear Umma-Jaan, Rizwan Bano (Naqvi) Rizvi, was born in the Bagla Mohalla of Amroha, on April 18th, 1934. Her father was Mohajir Husain and her mother was Husain Bano, affectionately known as “Bibanno”.
At a very young age, she left for Pakistan and ultimately arrived in Canada in the 1960s. Not once, but twice, she gave up her home, in search of new opportunities for her future family. Although she spent the better part of her life in Canada, Amroha was always in her heart. She often spoke of beautiful gardens and mango groves and how family and friends would congregate and spend quality time together.
I finally had the opportunity to visit India. Although time was limited, I was able to see my ancestral home in person. This could not have been achieved without the assistance of numerous Amrohvis, who went out of their way to help me.
When I arrived in New Delhi, I met with “Chotah Bhai”, Raza Jarrar. He was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule, and commute with me to Amroha. Towards the end of the three hour journey, Raza-Bhai’s cell phone began to ring continuously. As it turned out, family and friends in Amroha were inquiring about our status and when we would be arriving!
As we drove up to the main gate of Amroha, I felt a shiver, as it dawned on me, we were approaching my Umma-Jaan’s ancestral home – where she was born and where she lived. When we finally arrived, I received a true King’s Welcome!! Family and friends had all come to greet us in great numbers!! I have never received so much attention in all my life!!
I was travelling with three Canadian friends, who were also greeted very warmly. They were extremely touched by what they saw. They could not believe how kind and gracious the people of Amroha were. For those of us living in the West, this is not something we are accustomed to seeing very often.
We were brought from one home to the next. Each time, chai and snacks were served. Each time, we were greeted with smiles and hugs. When I mentioned how I would love to come back, they would say “You are most welcome!! You are most welcome!!”
As we approached yet another beautiful home, I inquired as to who we were visiting. Then it was exclaimed, “Yi aapka ghar hai”. I finally found my way to Umma-Jaan’s childhood home. Where she was born and where she grew up. It was an incredible experience that can’t be put into words. This was something I had dreamed of for a long time and Al-Hamdulillah, it finally materialized. I cannot thank everyone who helped me enough. May Allah swt reward you all.
Before long, we were scooped up and brought to a lavish, home-cooked dinner (truly, there is nothing like “ghar-ka-khana”). Again, my Canadian friends could not believe how warmly they were welcomed and treated like family. And they were quickly forgiven for handling the roti with their left hands!!
Later in the evening, we had the great privilege of visiting Dada-Ji’s Mazaar. We recited the Fatihah, we gave our salaam, we handled the scorpion without any harm, we observed countless devotees paying homage. Truly, this was a great honour.
Unfortunately, time was limited during this visit. Family and friends helped me experience as much as possible in a short time. When we reached Noda to pay respect to my great-grandfather, Dad Ali, it was quite late and dark and the entrance was locked. Because I had to head back for Delhi, we decided I would have to come back another time and really experience all what Amroha has to offer.
Upon arriving back in Delhi, I had yet another surprise. I had the pleasure of meeting my dear relative “Bullan-Bhai”. He told me wonderful stories of my Umma-Jaan’s youth. How my Nani-Umma had a peacock who used to dance for guests! Bhai-Jaan commuted over one and a half hours to meet me. He knew I was rushing to catch my plane to Udaipur. He said if he could only see my face, that would be enough. There is no need to expand further – this kind of gesture speaks for itself.
It would be impossible to name everyone who came to my aid throughout this experience.
I cannot thank the people of Amroha (family and friends) enough for their hospitality. It was truly a rewarding experience for me. To finally see my Umma-Jaan’s ancestral home and be welcomed so warmly, was extremely appreciated.
I would like to apologize to the good people of Amroha, for the very short duration of my visit. I really had no idea how much I would be welcomed. I had no idea how much there was to see and experience. I had no idea how many family and friends I actually had there. Poor “Lallan-Bhai” rushed to the Mazaar to meet me, as I did not have time to visit his home. I will not make that mistake again. Insha’Allah, I am planning my next trip, which will obviously be MUCH longer, if you will all have me again.
Finally, I would like to convey a small message to all Amrohvis living around the globe, particularly those (like me), who have not yet visited their ancestral home. Please make every effort to come home and see your people. And please do not wait as long as I did. Communicating via email and web sites is great, but there is no substitute for seeing and speaking with family and friends in person.
Truly, I am counting the days till I go back.