Bobby Jindal's "rare leadership instincts" earned him praise in his ancestral village in Punjab, but the compliments were tinged with regret at the "indifference" the newly-elected Louisiana governor had shown towards his folks.
Khanpura, in Sangrur district, came into sudden limelight on Sunday as news channels flocked to the village looking for happy faces after Jindal's gubernatorial victory. But relatives in his ancestral home would have liked it more if Jindal came down to meet them.
Aunt Kailash Rani said the win was a "rare honour for the family and village" but the "real" cause of celebration would be news of his plans to visit Malerkotla, where Khanpura is located.
"He must learn from people like Ujjal Dosanjh (an Indian-origin MP in Canada), who makes it a point to visit his ancestral home and contribute to the development and welfare of village folk," she said. "We do hope that Bobby would find time to come to his ancestral village. If he comes, it would be the real reason to celebrate."
Villagers gathered at the family home as channels flashed the news of the 36-year-old Republican's win. Several were heard advising the family to ask Jindal to visit Malerkotla at least once.
Jindal will be America's youngest governor in office when he takes over in January. His father, Amar, immigrated to US in the early 1970s. He last visited the Punjab in late eighties.
While Jindal's father, who graduated with an engineering degree from Guru Nanak Dev University, left for the US, his three uncles — Shyam Lal, Bhajan Lal and Dharampal — stayed in Malerkotla.
Jindal's older cousin Gulshan said at the time his uncle Amar left for the US, he was too young and had "only few memories" of him.
The day undoubtedly was a "big" one for the family, Gulshan said. "We do not know if Bobby was missing us. But we miss him badly." "Unaware of the joy here among us, he may be sitting across seven seas, but for us he lives in our hearts. And we believe our love will bring him back to the village once," Gulshan said.
Earlier in the day, the family obliged some photographers and distributed sweets. "Bobby's win is certainly a matter of pride and needs celebration but what is the use if every time these celebrations turn out to be a one-sided affair," Gulshan said.
"We, along with the villagers, always celebrate Bobby's achievements but never get any response from him. The last time we saw him or heard him was way back in the late seventies," he said. "
Hum unki yaad me diye jalaye jaate hain, jinhe roshni ka ehsaas hi nahin