Lucknow is the backdrop of my beautiful childhood memories. My nana, (maternal grandfather) Sharafat Ullah Khan, was a collector and I was born in the Haveli of Raja Suggur where he resided. They named me Rani as I was the first born in the big family.
In the middle of the Haveli was a Kathal tree which rose till the third floor. Monkeys frequented that tree often to eat the fruit. We had a big joint family, therefore our dining table had 20 chairs and a handheld cloth fan above it, operated manually by an attendant. We were not allowed in the kitchen so I would watch the fascinating activity by standing at the door step. Our cook Fakir Mohammed., had long hair tied by a red colour band. He used to cook on 7 to 10 cooking pans at a time, with the help of 2 attendants. Hot stones were used as fuel for cooking.
I remember sitting on the carrier of my mamu Shujahat Ullah Khan’s cycle and going for breakfast on the Gomti bridge. He always wore white. In the evenings, I would run to him after he returned from work and sit with him in the long drawing room, on the long sofa and listen to Binaca Geetmala.
(Narrated by Shaheen Suleman to her daughter Adeela Suleman)