In the Nimar region of Madhya Pradesh, breathes Khandwa, a city which has the soul of an old woman, forgotten and fading away. The walls of this city celebrate beauty in simplicity. The roads are half-built, half-balanced on breaking bridges. The assets are slowly becoming a liability and the people are victims of capitalism, hardly having time to make art, never trying to renovate the abode of artists who once crafted glory and always minding their own business.
The lanes of Khandwa have more ancient memorials than budding homes creating memories. People always leave but their memories stink wherever they once giggled or grieved. Whether it is the legendary singer who left his haveli or the ordinary five-year-old boy who left his little hut, Khandwa weaves them both into tapestries, columns of newspapers, books, and whatnot. Whether it is an abandoned printing house or the magazine that was once a luxury to read, Khandwa carries the weight of its words on its
shoulders pretty well.
The One and Only- Kishore Kumar
zindagi ke safar mein guzar jaate hain jo makaam
wo phir nahi aate
wo phir nahi aate
In Khandwa's Bombay Bazar area, stands a huge two-storey tall haveli- Ganguly House,
where a legendary singer was born on August 4th, 1949. Kishore Kumar was one of the
finest and most incredible Indian artists. He could sing to express grief and even had a great
command over songs that make us laugh. He took yodelling to another level and when on
camera, captivated his audience with his livewire performance. His residence which once
celebrated his melodious voice, now sits idle, silent and abandoned. No one from Kumar's family cares to visit the place or to initiate the making of a museum (a proposal by the
residents of the city) as a tribute to the legend.
The walls of the haveli are blackened narrating the story of light decreasing into darkness and the ceilings have cobwebs hanging through them. Years of neglect have resulted in the Ganguly House turning into a haunted place since Kishore Kumar left it. It is now just a remnant of his beautiful journey and a souvenir of his past where he began from scratch. Today, we all miss his songs, his roleplay, his sarcastic slang in various movies but who remembers the dilapidated home he belonged to in the middle of an unpopular city.
The only occupant, Sitaram who is equally broken, has no family to take care of and no money to support himself, hence he has been taking care of the house for more than 25 years. When asked, he says that no one cares to upkeep the abandoned abode. He hardly gets his salary which is not more than a thousand rupees or two, merely sufficient to meet his daily needs.
The government has put much effort to preserve the singer's legacy and pay respect to his talent. On Indore Road, on the outskirts of the city, Kishore Kumar memorial is built out of Rs one crore. It has beautifully decorated gardens, well-maintained paths and rare pictures of Kishore Kumar on the outer boundary wall. The memorial is open for the public to visit and etch it within their hearts as a souvenir. But unfortunately, the Kumar family never showed interest in it and no one ever visited it to show their love for the singing legend. The city is left with overflowing emotions and an unforgettable tale.
kuch log ek roz jo bichhad jaate hain woh hazaaron ke aane se milte nahi
umr bhar chahe koi pukaara kare unka naam
woh phir nahi aate
woh phir nahi aate
A Museum of Art- Makhanlal Chaturvedi
Born in Bavai village in Hoshangabad on 4th April 1889, Makhanlal Chaturvedi (also known as Pandit Ji) was a great leader, poetry enthusiast, beautiful writer and a popular name. He resigned from the post of working as a school teacher to take part in freedom struggle and journalism. His famous magazines that moved people with words were "Prabha" and "Karmaveer". In 1959 he was honoured with the degree of 'D Lit' which is short for Doctor of Literature and in 1963 government of India honoured him with Padma Bhushan award.
Chaturvedi's poems and stories are humongous, giving us a picture of the long-gone times, especially when the British treated Indians as their servants. They are published in various books and also introduced in hindi literature of today's course books. The magazine Karmaveer was printed in Khandwa (also known as the writer's. Karmabhoomi). From the house located on Jawaharganj Road, from which his printed Karmaveer, was sold in 2006 and is now replaced by a modern complex. Khandwa couldn't take care of the memories of the writer who is only in memories today. His poems have always prisoned our hearts just like the narrator was prisoned in Kaidi aur Kokila and has given us a voice as well. His work also asks us to reply to him.
The city has erased the remnants of the impeccable writer and the new residents, the new generation hardly knows about it. No one however can fill the void Pandit Ji has left in our life with his sacred poems and revolutionary works. His words will adorn us and remind us of the freedom struggles time and time again.
The Lion- Saroo Brierley
Let us go back in 1986 when Khandwa lost a 5-year-old poor boy who grew up to be an extraordinary artist and a think tank. In the Ganesh Talai region of the city, lived the poor family of Saroo which had his mother Fatima, two elder brothers, Guddu and Kallu and a younger sister Shakila. Saroo, at the age of five, travelled to a train station with his elder brother Guddu and slept on a bench there. The next day when he couldn't find his brother, he boarded a train which brought him to Kolkata after the journey of a couple of days.
There began a new life for this little boy. John and Sue proved to be fun and loving parents and pampered Saroo like their own child. After he went to Melbourne for higher education, he was introduced to Google Earth by his friends. He then started searching for his home because the dreams and hallucinations of his family couldn't let him sleep. Saroo was searching for a small town in the seventh-largest country of the world. It was no less than looking for a needle in a haystack. He started marking train stations from Kolkata which were exactly a couple of days away.
Khandwa, 1600 kms from Kolkata was discovered once again after 25 years by Saroo out of the puzzle pieces of his memory at around 3 am one day out of nowhere. He then went to Khandwa, India in 2012 and finally got reunited with his mother and two of his siblings, Kallu and Shakila. When asked about Guddu, his family was in tears. Guddu died that day itself when a train ran over him and police found his body later.
In 2013, Saroo along with his adoptive mother Sue, came to India and was overwhelmed to have both of his mothers with him. Sue shared albums and incidents from Saroo's life which Fatima, his real mother missed. According to Fatima, her heart always said that Saroo will return one day so she never left that place and so it was true. His son, after 25 years came looking for home and it was a hell of a ride. Saroo did not know he had been mispronouncing his name for so many years until his family started calling him Sheru meaning Lion.
The Oscar-winning Lion, a 2016 Australian biological drama film is Saroo Brierley's story of struggle followed by the book A Long Way Home which is written by Saroo and Sue. It is directed by Garth Davis and is a 2 hr long film based on the true story of Saroo's search starring Dev Patel, Sunny Dev Patel, Sunny Pawar, Rooney Mara, David Wenham, and Nicole Kidman, as well as Abhishek Bharate, Divian Ladwa, Priyanka Bose, Deepti Naval, Tannishtha Chatterjee, and Nawazuddin Siddiqui.
Khandwa, a forgotten legacy has, at a point in time, grown artists that are remembered by the world. The city is an example of how dreams and determination can take you out of the box and make your life a remarkable one. At night, when the city sleeps, dreams are nurtured and at the break of dawn, it wakes up to celebrate everything it already has.
Khatija Khan writes and dreams. On days when the whole world is falling apart, words become her home. She is quiet in person and a chatterbox in her poems. Books, evenings, and ice cream are her ideas of heaven.
Khandwa - A Forgotten City