“Hi, I saw you in Chiplun three days ago.” Lulu, my parrot said.
“I had a whirl wind tour of Lote Parshuram to Agargule. Visited Chiplun, Govindkot to visit the temple of family deity Karanjeshwari, then to Guhagar to visit another temple – of Vyadeshwar, before landing in Agargule via Ratnagiri. Roots, it was in search of our roots!” I clicked on my laptop to open the photo album of the journey.
“What do you mean by ‘Roots’? Don’t tell me you did an Alex Haley. Finding your ancestors. Sounds so exciting.”
“It is exciting! The ancestral town of Patwardhans is Agargule. About 25 kilometres south of Ratnagiri. My uncle told me that my great-grandfather lived there. He also told me that the family owned a house there of which only the plinth remained due to decay.”
“Oh! So did you go in search of it?”
“It was more about seeing the place. Unfortunately we do not know the name of our great-great-grandfather. We do not know what great-grandfather did for his living. Perhaps agriculture kept them there.”
“Did you not learn it from your father?”
“No. I never asked. I feel bad about it. Now nobody of that generation survives to tell us the story. I always wanted to visit Agargule, and my interest got rekindled when I read the blog of M. [Name withheld deliberately] She had visited her grandparents’ home in Agargule.”
“Have you read Alex Haley’s Roots?”
“I haven’t but I have read its reviews. Perhaps the thought of visiting germinated several years ago when I read the review. Some thoughts are like chewing gum. You keep munching and chewing endlessly. Visiting ancestral village was one such thought for me.”
“And I saw your brother and cousin with their wives. So the family went in search….”
“Ha, ha! We are in our sixties. I have a feeling that when you cross your sixties you think about your identity. Your story is never complete without realising who you are.”
“I feel that the lineage gives you a context. Your story starts with your ancestors and ends with you.”
“Getting a bit philosophical? I think ‘story’ is the key word.” Lulu said as he nibbled at guava.
“You are busy in building career. You are busy in hundred activities. You don’t have time to tell stories of your past to our children.”
“And we also don’t have curiosity enough to ask parents about it. All this search of ancestry starts when we are old and the previous generation is gone to the ‘land of no return.’ Recently I discovered that my mother was born at Maindargi. I always thought she was born in Belgaum. I feel a sense of loss.”
“All is not lost. Government records might help you.”
“But records don’t tell stories. Records don’t tell who we were. Records don’t tell the time of trial and tribulation of forefathers. Records don’t tell their times and how they lived, and the choices they made.”
“Why is this important? Your world is different.”
“Knowing all this helps complete the story. Not knowing these stories makes our life like a quick pencil sketch. Knowing them makes it like a portrait in oil paint.”
“May be, you should write autobiography. And record your story. For the sake of posterity.” Lulu said as he winked at me.
“Ha, ha! That’s a good idea. It takes courage to write one.”
“There are stories which you would like to tell and there are stories which your children would like to listen to. And the two don’t always match!” Lulu laughed as he hopped on to my shoulder.
Lulu knows a bit too much!
Vivek S Patwardhan