Muzaffarpur has different connotations for different people. It was near the world’s first republic of the Licchavi clan near Vaishali. It is famous for colourful lahthi (lac based) bangles and juicy shahi lichis. It is where Baba Garibnath mandir exists- where Lord Shiva is worshipped as the guardian of the poor. To other people, the constant music of mosquitoes singing in your ears prompts them to rechristen the city Maccharpur instead. The lanes are choc-a-bloc with so many jeweller shops that I often wonder who buys all that gold.
I returned to Muzaffarpur after 30 years. To me, Muzaffarpur is the place of my childhood memories- of spending time with my grandparents during my summer vacations. Of eating basketfuls of shahi lichis with my cousins. Of wearing frocks and been driven around on bikes with my favourite Munna and Pappu bhaiyya to see the campus of LS college. Of enjoying masala dosas and mango shakes at Bharat Jalpangrah, and of raiding my grandfather’s cupboard to find English novels which no one else cared about much. Came back to find nostalgic memories crashing to the floor. All that remained of my childhood memories was a tall overhead water tank. My grandfather’s house is gone and is replaced by a non-descript set of apartment buildings. Thankfully despite the things that have changed around us, my cousins and the warmth in their heart remains the same. Thank God for small mercies!