Recently I came across a research journal related to Jammu and Kashmir, which for me is more a fairyland than a place where my ancestors lived. Growing up I’ve heard numerous stories about the place by Ami Jan (my grandmother), and my father. Although Ami Jan used to narrate relatively detailed accounts, but stories by Abu were mostly sketchy and depended more on a feeling that is in some way engraved into my own soul. Kashmir brings to my mind floating images of houseboats and shikaras, scent of mangoes and saffron, lofty breeze from River Tawi and the pine trees, laughter and happiness.
Coming back to the journal, I chanced to read about my ancestors that we seldom speak about. ‘Sheikh Sodagar and his Eminent Dynasty,’ the article that caught my eye with a very familiar name! The editor of the journal calls the article on Sheikh Sodagar, ‘one of the makers of Jammu and Kashmir State’ as a ‘forgotten chapter of our history,’ and rightly so, for the history recalled is the only history that remains.
My excitement grew manifold as I stumbled on the pictures of my father’s birth place, the haveli of Sheikh Sodagar at Julaka Muhalla in Jammu. Although the pictures are not very clear for we are accustomed to HD images now, yet my father grew excited to see the balcony picture, and the entrance into the haveli, as well as the windows that my grandfather had gotten added to the haveli.
Furthermore, this article has lifted the fog from a few blurred images in my mind; mostly names that I had heard in my childhood.
Following are a few treasured pictures we have at home.